‘I Love Lucy’: Desi Arnaz Bred Horses for Racing, Has Race Named After Him

by Joe Rutland

“I Love Lucy” star Desi Arnaz definitely loved horse racing. In fact, he loved it so much that Arnaz would breed horses for racing.

For Arnaz, who played Ricky Ricardo on the famed CBS sitcom, breeding thoroughbreds became a way of life. He and his second wife Edith would go into semi-retirement after moving to Del Mar, Calif. Arnaz owned a horse-breeding farm in Corona, Calif.

Being in Del Mar would allow the “I Love Lucy” star closer accessibility to Del Mar Racetrack. He would go there and watch the horses race. But the track also named the Desi Arnaz Stakes race in his honor.

‘I Love Lucy’ Star Followed His Passion For Horse Racing After Time On TV

Arnaz had the money to follow this passion in his life. The years of working on television with his first wife Lucille Ball, along with the success of Desilu Productions, gave him wealth.

Ball and Arnaz also put their earnings from the TV show and its home network, CBS, toward real estate properties in California.

Of course, Ball divorced Arnaz in 1960 after a somewhat acrimonious marriage.

But Desi Arnaz, who died on Dec. 2, 1989, at 69 years old, made a name for himself in front of and behind the television camera. His love of horse racing, too, allowed Arnaz to pursue it as he did after stepping out of the show business spotlight.

“I Love Lucy” remains one of television’s greatest sitcoms. The fact that this classic TV show has been shown almost continuously worldwide for six or seven decades is amazing. Ball played Lucy Ricardo, Arnaz played Ricky, Vivian Vance played Ethel Mertz, and William Frawley played Fred Mertz.

Classic TV Show Would End After Six Seasons, Lead Into Hour-Long Comedy

Putting together the show as a producer while also having scripts to memorize landed Arnaz under the pressure cooker of entertainment. Luckily, he had a way of learning his lines thanks to his photographic memory. This means he could read and memorize his scripts in one reading.

When lining up cameras and working behind the scenes, Arnaz could count on this ability to help him when “I Love Lucy” was shooting episodes.

Desi Arnaz and his costars would wrap up their six-season run on “I Love Lucy” on May 6, 1957. A decision was reached that 30-minute shows featuring the four main stars wouldn’t be done again. Thus, “The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour” premiered later in 1957 and ran for three seasons until 1960. The basic format remained the same with Lucy still getting into trouble and Ethel playing along with it. Ricky and Fred would be on the outside looking in during the hijinx.

Arnaz also would produce these hour-long shows. Everything, though, ended between all four actors after the show left CBS. Ball and Arnaz would split up, Frawley would go on to play “Bub” on “My Three Sons,” and Vance would end up on “The Lucy Show.”