Princess Abigail K. Kawananakoa, a celebrated breeder of racing American Quarter Horses and direct descendant of the Hawaiian royal family, will receive the diploma for her honorary doctorate from Colorado State University during a presentation Sunday at the 2016 LosAlamitos Two Million Futurity.
Kawananakoa’s Evening Snow won the inaugural running of Sunday’s event in 1995, when it as known as Los Alamitos Million Futurity. She has reigned among Quarter Horse racing’s most productive owners and breeders, with an empire unlike any other during the mid-1990s. In 1994 and 1995, Kawananakoa was voted AQHA Champion Owner based on the resounding success of her stable.
Fittingly, Kawananakoa, 90, will receive the diploma and a ceremonial commencement hood from Dr. WayneMcIlwraith, University Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedics and Founding Director of the Orthopaedic Research Center at Colorado State University. The princess and the esteemed equine orthopaedic surgeon are longtime friends and well-known figures at Los Alamitos; McIlwraith has conducted surgery on many of Kawananakoa’s winning horses to maintain their musculoskeletal health.
CSU officially conferred the honorary doctorate to Kawananakoa in May 2016, but she was unable to attend the Graduate School commencement ceremony in Fort Collins, Colo. The presentation was postponed to Sunday – the first time the princess, who resides in Hawaii,has traveled to Los Alamitos in several years.
Kawananakoa earned the honorary degree from CSU for her longtime support of global equine health and for leadership in preserving native Hawaiian culture.
For many years, the princess has directed her energy and philanthropic resources toward the preservation and perpetuation of Hawaiian language, culture and history, noted Dr. Mark Stetter,dean of the CSU College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. She also has been a lifelong devotee of horses, and as a young woman was a talented equestrian; this passion connected Kawananakoa to CSU and inspired her to promote research and teaching in equine musculoskeletal health.
For about 15 years, the princess has generously supported the CSU Orthopaedic Research Center, which investigates musculoskeletal problems and medical therapies for equine athletes, including racehorses. Because of similarities in the joints of horsesand humans, the center’s discoveries often translate into advancements in human orthopaedic care.
“Abigail has been a tremendous friend to the Orthopaedic Research Center, and I have personally appreciated our shared interest in the health of the horse. With her support over many years, we have been able to accomplish a great deal,” said McIlwraith, an international pioneer of arthroscopic surgery and joint disease research inhorses. “As our friendship has grown, I have been continually astounded by Abigail’s influence on the many cultural and civic projects she embarks upon. She is an incredible individual.”
She owns Lakeview Quarter Horse Farm in Nuevo, Calif., as well as ranches in Hawaii and Washington. The acclaimed horsewoman is best known as owner of A Classic Dash, winner of the1993 All American Futurity, the world’s richest Quarter Horse race. In 1995, her horse Evening Snow won the inaugural Los Alamitos Million Futurity.
McIlwraith operated on both racehorses, using arthroscopic surgery to remove bone fragments from their joints. A Classic Dash then retired to stud. But Evening Snow returned to the track after knee surgery, and in 1996 the racing world was agog when he becamethe first horse of any breed to sprint the quarter-mile from a standing start in less than 21 seconds.