Former Pacific Coast Quarter Horse Racing Association President George Loeb, who along with his wife Shirley campaigned the 1979 Champion of Champions winner Mr Doty Bar, passed away due to kidney failure on Monday night in Murrieta, California. He was 90-years-old.
A native of Brooklyn, New York, George loved racing horses. In his heyday, George and Shirley were among the leading Quarter Horse owners at Los Alamitos and would be named the 1979 PCQHRA Champion Owners. The Loeb Family, racing out their Loeb Ranch in Menifee, California, would become one of the all-time leading Thoroughbred owners at the Cypress track. Shirley preceded him in death In December of 2003.
George met Shirley in New York City, but the couple would eventually venture west. First, they moved to New Orleans and then to Fort Smith, Arkansas and later to Houston, Texas. George worked at a ladies department store while in Houston that would later open up a store at the Lakewood Mall near Los Alamitos. George eventually ran a very successful vending machine business in Southern California and an outstanding stable of horses at Los Alamitos Race Course.
“We have lost one of our best in George Loeb,” said current PCQHRA President Dominic “Bud” Alessio. “George passed peacefully in his sleep (on Monday night). George is now celebrating with Shirley and telling us not to mourn his loss.”
“George was an important part of racing at Los Alamitos for a long time,” added track owner Ed Allred. “He liked to claim horses. He claimed Mr Doty Bar from me in the horse’s first start after recovering from a bowed tendon. We had the horse resting at my mother’s place before we brought him back to race for a $4,000 claiming price, which was higher than he had previously raced before the injury. George went ahead and claimed him and the horse eventually won the Champion of Champions at 22-1 odds, which is still the biggest price in the race’s history.”
While Shirley grew up around horses, George’s love affair with the gentle animals began with an impromptu visit to a PCQHRA sponsored horse sale at the track in the early 1970s.
"My wife Shirley knew how much I loved auctions,” George once said. “ I had just bought a boat at a sale so when I left the house to go with my friend Andy Johnson, Shirley told me, 'George, don't you buy a horse now.”
Johnson became embroiled in a bidding war for a horse named Marjorie Ruth so when he was about to stop his bidding, Loeb told him to keep on going with him as his partner on the horse.
"Shirley gave me heck," Loeb said. "But I told her, 'Shirley you told me not to buy a horse and I didn't buy a horse. I bought half a horse.' "
In 1978 and ’79, the Loebs campaigned the talented runners Mr Doty Bar, multiple stakes winner Elmer Go and the winning machine Drat It. During the 1978 winter meet the Loebs won 35 races in three months, helping John Cooper win the meet’s training title.
“In those horses, the Loebs had three of the best horses on the grounds and they claimed all three of them,” Cooper said. “Mr Doty Bar used to hit his legs when he ran. I built a boot for him to wear and that helped him not hit his legs. George was a great guy and great to train for. He was all for Quarter Horse racing and he was as good a representative as we’ve had in PCQHRA. He did a lot of good for us.”
In the 1990s, the Loebs raced Los Alamitos Invitational Championship winner Brotherly, a horse that George claimed for $8,000 after watching the Ed Allred-owned gelding walk to the receiving stall under a pouring rain.
"He loved to watch the horses come up to the paddock,” said trainer Charles Treece. “He saw Brotherly going to the receiving barn so he made up his mind that he wanted to claim. On the way up to the track he ran into Clancy Barham and George sold him half of Brotherly right there. Then we started going up the stairs and he ran into Mark Shannon, who asked him what he was up to. George told him he was on his way to claiming Brotherly and right away he asked Mark if he wanted a third of the horse. I started laughing because he had sold 2/3rd of a horse before he even owned him and before they had even seen him. He also liked the Allred Brothers’ horses. They would drop them and he would claim them.
“I started working for him in 1977 and I’ve worked for him all of this time,” Treece added. “We went through it all. He bred horses, but he really loved to claim horses. He would pick me up on his red Cadillac and we would go claim a horse. I remember back in 1979, he won the last race of the card three nights in a row. I will never forget how much he loved that.”
George once said: "Some people play the stock market, I play the horse market."
"It's true," Treece added. "There (were) times when we couldn’t decide on which of two horses to claim and George would say, 'I'll take them both.' “
Loeb was also proud of his time spent on the PCQHRA Board. He was proud to have worked with influential people like California Senator Ken Maddy, Lobbyist Jack Clifford and HQHRA Vice President and General Manager James S. Smith.
George Loeb is survived by his sons Randy and Sandy and his sister, Suzanne Kaskel. Memorial services will be held at Riverside National Cemetery on Thursday, December 12 at 10 a.m. For more information, please call 714-820-2690.