Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Andy Jauregui's Ribbon

1934 Hoot Gibson Ranch Rodeo | Saugus, California

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April 22, 1934 — Andy Jauregui's contestant ribbon from the 1934 Hoot Gibson Ranch Rodeo in Saugus (future Saugus Speedway), granting him access to the chute for the calf roping competition, which he won.

Jauregui (1903-1990) was an important rodeo stock provider and Placerita Canyon ranch owner (both working ranch and movie ranch). A world champion in steer roping (1931) and team roping (1934), he was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame in 1979.

Ribbon by Western Badge & Button Co. of Los Angeles. Linen, 2x6 inches with safety pin and maker's label on back.

Click to enlarge.

Rodeo Success.

More than 21,000 spectators saw a good exhibition of the rodeo sports at the Hoot Gibson Ranch Rodeo, Sunday afternoon. The road from Los Angeles swarmed with cars from early morning until the hour of opening, the last few hundred cars going back to the city on account of the sel-out of seats, which was complete an hour or so before the opening time, 1:30 o'clock.

While no records were broken, the participants in the different events gave good examples of the old-time cattle country Western sports. The results of the events are as follows:

Cowboys' broncho riding — Peter Knight, Calgary, first; Hank Schneider, Hanford, second; Eddie Woods, Emmett, Idaho, third; Johnnie Scneider, Livermore, fourth.

Steer riding contest — Smoky Snyder, Kimberly, B.C., first; Eddie Woods, second; Fox O'Callahan, Newhall, third.

Bareback horse riding contest — Frank Schneider, first; Smoky Snyder, second; Hans Starr, third.

Wild horse race — L. Logue, Newhall first.

Wild cow milking contest — Richard Merchant, Kirkland, Ariz., first; Ducky DeSwan, San Pedro, second; Mike Stewart, Prescott, Ariz., third. Time, 31.4s.

Cowgirls' relay race — Vera McGinnis, Burbank, first; Dorothy Hunt, American Falls, Idaho, second; Mabel Strickland, Burbank, third.

Cowboys' calf roping contest — Andy Jauregui, Newhall, first; Joe Yanez, Ventura, second; Dick Robbins, Tempe, Ariz., third. Time, 28.2s.

Bull-dogging contest — Howard Brown, Paso Robles, first; Hans Starr and Johnnie Schneider, tied for second.

Cowboys' pony express race — Mike Schelton, Cheyenne, Wyo., first; Fred Hunt, second; Speck Craig, Hanford, third.

Cowgirls' steer roping contest — Betsie Bolando, Kernville, and Dolores Steelman, Newhall, tied for first place. Time, 14s.

About Saugus Speedway.

The future Saugus Speedway was built originally as a rodeo arena in 1927 by Roy Baker, brother of shoe magnate C.H. Baker.

Roy Baker purchased the 40-acre property east of Bouquet Junction in 1923 for the purpose of breeding and selling show and pleasure horses. To that end he imported saddle brood mares from Kentucky and studded them with a pedigreed, chestnut-colored saddlebred stallion named Peavine McDonald (b. 1910), which sired five pedigreed mares and four pedigreed colts between 1920 and 1936. Baker advertised that he had 2,500 acres of grazing land and also offered training and boarding services for outside horses.

Probably to attract horse buyers to his ranch in faraway Saugus, Baker staged rodeos. Some references suggest he built a 12,000-seat arena in 1924, but this is dubious. (Promoter Bob Anderson organized a local rodeo in 1924, but its exact location is unclear, and it wouldn't have had grandtands.) Anderson did hold the annual rodeo on Baker's property in April 1926. That December, Baker and Anderson started construction on a new stadium, complete with partially covered grandstand seating and a quarter-mile oval track. When it opened May 1, 1927, it seated 18,000 fans, and thousands more had to be turned away for lack of room.

Over the next decade, ownership of the arena would change hands three more times.

As with a majority of the American populace, Baker was hit hard financially by the Great Depression of 1929 and was forced to sell the stadium to cowboy actor Hoot Gibson in 1930. Gibson continued to hold rodeos at the stadium and drew a Hollywood crowd including famous actors such as William S. Hart, Harry Carey, Tom Mix, and John Wayne. He also used the stadium as a movie set or leased it to other companies for film making.

But Gibson felt the effects of the Depression, as well. In September 1933 he appeared in a Los Angeles courtroom and pleaded poverty, saying he had no assets with which to repay a $2,500 loan. He testified that he owned a one-third interest in Hoot Gibson Inc., which owned the Saugus rodeo, and that it was in arrears.

In 1934, Gibson sold the stadium to Paul Hill, owner of the Western Livestock Stockyards, who continued to call it the Hoot Gibson Rodeo. As with his predecessors, however, the stadium brought Hill financial hardship when it was hit by the Great Flood of March 2, 1938. Heavy rains that year caused a river of water to flow down Soledad Canyon and filled the ranch home and arena with mud and debris. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the "old buildings ... collapsed during the March floods" and the arena was built anew.

Nonetheless, Hill lost the ranch sometime after the April 1938 rodeo. According to Reynolds, the property was repossessed by the bank. In 1939, ownership passed to William Bonelli, and it was renamed Bonelli Stadium.

Bonelli, a professor of economics at Occidental College, continued the annual rodeo tradition for a number of years but introduced auto racing in 1939 on a more frequent schedule; ultimately auto racing became the primary draw and Bonelli renamed the arena Saugus Speedway. Occasional rodeos and circuses continued until at least the late 1960s, auto racing until 1995. The facility was sometimes used for concerts before the grandstands were removed in 2012 (the originals had been replaced in 1955). The venue continues to host an outdoor swap meet.

LW3668: 9600 dpi jpeg from original ribbon obtained in 2019 by Leon Worden. Provenance: Jauregui acquisition of 11/13/2019. Photo file.
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