Larry would have loved the new fall race season - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Larry would have loved the new fall race season

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DEL MAR (CBS 8) - Anyone who watched our colleague Larry Himmel over the years knows the track was one of his favorite places to be. Now his legacy will last forever at Del Mar.

The new fall horse racing season kicked off at Del Mar Friday. The "Bing Crosby Season" will run for 15 days.

For more than three Del mar decades, amongst the horses and the hats, there was Larry Himmel hamming it up. If you wanted a sure thing at the track, you sent Larry to the ponies for punch lines.

"He was everyone's best friend, and just a great guy," Dan Smith of the Del Mar Racetrack said.

Smith has worked at Del Mar since 1964, and was Larry's friend for 40 years.

"It's just a big void. I miss him so much," Smith said.

In 2006, Larry looked like a kid in a candy store when the station gave him spending money to take to the track.

It didn't take a photo finish to tell you Larry made everyone feel like a winner at the track, including Saundra Blackledge.

"He was just so friendly. Everybody was a friend, nobody was a stranger. He'd walk up to you, 'Hi, how are you?' shake your hand… he was just a lovely guy," she said.

Longtime anchorman Marty Levin says Larry's love for racing ran so deep, he talked Marty into buying the cheapest racehorse they could find at Caliente.

"So we put up the money, we got a trainer, we saw the horse. The guy called and said the horse is going to run Saturday. We went down to Caliente. The horse ran, the horse won the race, and then the horse disappeared," Levin said.

He says he and Larry made $3 each on that horse, but Larry was more about passion than his pocketbook.

Friends of Larry's say when he didn't show up on Opening Day this summer, they knew he must've been terribly ill. Slowed by sickness no more, his friends will now have to meet him at the finish line.

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