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Native Diver was bred and owned by Mr. and Mrs. Louis K. Shapiro, who had claimed his dam, Fleet Diver, the daughter of Devil Diver out of Our Fleet by Count Fleet. Despite the fact that her immediate lineage included members of Blood-Horse magazine List of the Top 100 U.S. Racehorses of the 20th Century (Count Fleet at no. 5 and Devil Diver at no. 55), as well as the fact that Fleet Diver had just given jockey Johnny Longden his 4,000th racing win, Our Fleet's claiming price was $3,500. The Shapiros bought the mare in January 1954. Five years later, she produced Native Diver. He was by Imbros, himself a good racehorse, having set a world record in the Californian Stakes of 1954.
Native Diver's nicknames included "the Diver," "The California Comet" and "The Black Horse." Although he never won outside California or brought home any championships, he compiled more than thirty stakes wins. At a young age, Native Diver injured his back and therefore often ran while holding his head high to ease the strain on his spine. He was gelded to calm him down, but it seemed to make little difference.
At two, Native Diver won his first three starts by a combined margin of 233⁄4 lengths and was on his way to setting six career track records. He set three of those records while carrying 130 pounds. He was a versatile runner who could sprint at six furlongs or rate at nine, setting track records at both distances. He won stakes at six California racetracks, being the second horse ever to accomplish that feat.
Native Diver was still racing at eight years of age; his owners vowed to retire him when he started to slow down. Eight days after he won the Del Mar Handicap in 1967, equaling the track record, he fell ill with colic. He was taken to the equine hospital at University of California at Davis, and died there the next day.
Native Diver won 34 stakes races, was the seventh racing millionaire, and was the first California-bred to earn a million dollars. He is buried in the Garden Paddock at Hollywood Park under a monument designed by Millard Sheets. Upon Hollywood Park's closing in December 2013, his remains and the monument were to be moved to Del Mar with its location on the premises to be determined. On March 8th, the exhumation of the remains began led by University of Southern California archaeologists Lynn Swartz Dodd and Tom Garrison.
- "Linthicum, Kate (March 8, 2014), "A legendary racehorse will get a new resting place," Los Angeles Times(Los Angeles), archived from the original March 8, 2014 at 8:31 pm pst' http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-buried-racehorse-20140309,0,4586325.story#axzz2vNDqmlWh