History

1886: Horse with Sacramento pedigree wins Kentucky Derby

James Ben Ali Haggin owned most of Rancho Del Paso in northern Sacramento County and used its 64 square miles to develop what became the world’s largest and most successful horse breeding farm.
James Ben Ali Haggin owned most of Rancho Del Paso in northern Sacramento County and used its 64 square miles to develop what became the world’s largest and most successful horse breeding farm. Bee Archives

1886: Ben Ali, owned by James Ben Ali Haggin, wins the 12th Kentucky Derby. Haggin owned most of Rancho Del Paso in northern Sacramento County where he developed a successful horse breeding farm. At one time he owned 1,000 thoroughbreds.

Haggin was the son of Ferah Temple Haggin, a prominent Louisville, Ky., attorney. He came to Sacramento in 1850, and by 1860 was a successful attorney in San Francisco.

His partner and brother-in-law, Lloyd Tevis, was sued in 1862 by the owner of 44,374-acre Rancho Del Paso. Tevis won and he and Haggin acquired the land, which is bordered by the American River, Northgate Boulevard, Manzanita Avenue-Fair Oaks Boulevard and Rio Linda’s U Street. They sold it in 1910 for $1.5 million.

Haggin’s legacy here is very apparent: Ben Ali Temple and Activity Center, across from Hagginwood Park; Ben Ali School; and at least seven Haggins or Hagginwoods, including Haggin Oaks Municipal Golf Course. And streets are named for his horses – Frienza, Dixieanne and Salvator.

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