It was 1938, and the owners of the track were the moguls of the film world. An oval that was only fit to be in the land of the stars, had taken its rightful place.
The same year saw Seabiscuit take the inaugural Gold Cup. It would be an innovator with the “binocular patrol” which would change the way races were patrolled by stewards for the future. It is hard to imagine that it is going away. The way of the dinosaur, the Edsel, and 10 cent a gallon gas. They are tearing down paradise and putting up something called “Hollywood Tomorrow.” What the hell is that exactly? Another mall-housing-condo-complex?
I made my first trip to California this past October. I stretched my neck through the small window to see a beautiful oval called Hollywood Park. As silly as it sounds, I had a small tear in my eye as we were going out to the Breeders’ Cup. I couldn’t believe I was seeing the track I had read about as a kid in the Form. There it was, and there it went. We landed, and I held that thought as I walked in a sea of humanity at the airport.
Citation made his final start there.
The Lakeside Turf Course, featuring four chutes, opened on May 10, 1967. Old Mose, with Jerry Lambert up, won the first race on the course.
Sunday racing was introduced to Californians at Hollywood Park on April 15, 1973. (The legislation was introduced under Gov. Ronald Reagan’s administration.)
Harbor View Farm’s Affirmed became racing’s first $2-million winner, with a victory in the 1979 Hollywood Gold Cup under jockey Laffit Pincay Jr.
Dotsam Stable’s seven-time Eclipse Award winner John Henry became the first horse to surpass $4 million in career earnings, with a win in the 1983 Hollywood Turf Cup under jockey Chris McCarron.
Hollywood Park became the first track to host a second Breeders’ Cup, setting a handle record of $14,352,515 on Nov. 21, 1987. The national handle of $36,398,366 was also a single-day standard.
The $20-million Hollywood Park-Casino was opened on Friday, July 1, 1994. Previously known as the Pavilion, the state-of-the-art card club/casino features California games and poker. It became an inter-track hit with simulcasts from within the State, throughout the U.S., and from Hong Kong. (It is operated by Pinnacle Entertainment).
It is leaving for good. I guess in Hollywood this is when the credits roll. The names, the legends, the records; all held at this wonderful place. It gave so many pleasure, brought more people together, and gave fathers and sons things to talk about on the drive home. When it is gone, I will miss it without even being there. I will watch the Friday night racing card which still amazes me at my age. I cannot believe that an icon can go away. The many ballparks, racetracks, and other sporting venues are leaving. I guess the younger generation won’t miss it much. But, there are a few of us that will always remember the old days, a simpler time. The time when you could grab a beer with the sun on your face, and root like heel for that grey nag in the fourth.