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Friday, June 18, 2010

Santa Anita Racetrack

I'm one of the few people in southern California who didn't watch the Lakers beat the Celtics last night. I knew LA won, though, when at about 3 minutes to 9 o'clock my quiet little block erupted with cheers, fireworks and party horns.

I'm thrilled with the Lakers' win. Even if no one got any sleep last night, everyone in LA will be in a good mood for a while. But I admit I'm not much of a sports fan, though I couldn't take my eyes off the equine athletes working out at the Santa Anita Racetrack yesterday morning.

I don't know why it took me so long to get around to going to Clockers' Corner, where you can enjoy breakfast while watching the horses work out on the track against the backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains. I thought about posting a photo of them (horses and mountains), but the Altadena Hiker did a good job of that not long ago. Plus I love the deco style of the stands. The place was built in the 1930's and still has that feel of that bygone era about it. I kept expecting to bump into Bing Crosby.

Some older area residents may not remember Santa Anita so fondly, as it was used as a Japanese American internment center from 1942-1944. From what I gather, the part of the park that was barracks is now the Westfield Santa Anita Shopping Mall.

I found two references on the web about the track's owners, Magna Entertainment, having filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. I don't know what this means for the future of Santa Anita Racetrack, but it was bliss to sit there yesterday and watch those gorgeous animals reach speeds akin to flight.

Each sport has its own history, its language, its in-crowd--its world. And although I've never been much of a sports fan in general, I'm drawn to the arcanities of certain sports. There's nothing like a baseball game at Wrigley Field, for example. And now that I live in the San Gabriel Valley, I'm glad the Santa Anita Racetrack is still here to enjoy.

27 comments:

Shell Sherree said...

What a lovely track! Bing Crosby, indeed... There's something about the traditions of certain sporting events that I do find stirring, even when I don't follow the sports.

Kim said...

I wonder how many films needing a racetrack set have used Santa Anita, with its close proximity to Hollywood. It is certainly photogenic :-). Glad you enjoyed dining and watching there.
And congrats to the Lakers and all their fans. To come out the victor between those two fab finalists must truly make everyone beam with accomplishment. I used to follow UCLA and Lakers basketball when I was a teen and young adult. Class acts and amazing players.
-Kim

Katie said...

This photo makes me want to dress up and wear a big hat and go cheer on the horses! I had no idea it was such a pretty place. Have you read Seabiscuit? Even if you don't know or care much about horse racing, it's an amazing book (and features Santa Anita). It's also a good history or early California.

Petrea said...

Bing was around during the Seabiscuit days, although he was more often at the Del Mar track, Shell. His Wikipedia entry has an interesting section on thoroughbred racing.

Kim, that may be countless, or the listing at the Santa Anita Wikipedia page might have been more thorough. Seabiscuit, of course. They even have a Seabiscuit tram tour.

The Laker party in Pasadena went late into the night. We could hear it from our house. Horns honking, people cheering. Sounded like a good time. People need to have a good time and be happy right now. Too bad both cities couldn't win.

altadenahiker said...

I like the empty stands -- in the morning they look hopeful.

Almost any of the old movie with a racetrack scene (aside from steeplechase) was shot at Santa Anita.

Bellis said...

When they were filming Seabiscuit, they appealed for people to populate the stands. I so regret being too lazy to get there by 5:30 am.

I love "...reach speeds akin to flight." How can you write so well with all that partying going on around you?

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Margaret said...

Love clocker's corners. What a great way to spend a morning.

Margaret said...

By the way, Katie, there is a Seabiscuit tour!

Michael Coppess said...

There is a lot of history in that place and I like just wandering the grounds outside the stands. I was there earlier this year for the races and thought the crowd was way down. I wonder if a downturn in patrons has put the track on financial skids?

Pascal Jim said...

Its the most beautiful location to win, place and show in Southern California. Even losing $ you are still impressed with the setting. Clockers Corner is great but Frontrunners is where I hang.

Travel by train to Opening Day at Del Mar is also great fun. "Where the Turf Meets The Surf". Each racing Day Bing Sings (via recording)

Pascal Jim said...

P.S. Opening Day at Del Mar is where many hats are displayed worn by Ladies and Gentlemen....

Petrea said...

The crowds were down at the mall, too, Michael. What's the cost of admission? Is it high? Even if you don't bet it seems it would be fun to watch the races.

I just got an email from a friend who agrees with Pascal Jim that Del Mar is historic and lovely, so I have to check that out, too.

Best Mobiles, you need to come to one of my seminars on blogging. (If not mine, then someone's!) There's a better way. ;)

J+P said...

Ouch. Too bad Best Mobiles uses a robot to blast blog-comments. Maybe the robot needs a seminar, too. Then the blog might reach speeds akin to print.

Anonymous said...

There are a couple nice books about Seabiscuit which will give the reader a great feel for the period. The best known is Seabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand, upon which the recent movie was based.

Also Seabiscuit: The Saga of a Great Champion by B.K. Beckwith. I believe it was written in the 1940s and has an the "over-the-top" style sportswriters often used to describe the heroes to populace who usually only had to newspapers and radios for news of the outside world.

Anonymous said...

Check www.santaanita.com
and you will find admission is very reasonable. Under the "On-Track Dining" there are listed numerous dining venues, including breakfast at "Clockers' Corner," some of which may be worth a picture. Or not.

PS: I'm an unabashed race fan and would like more people to show up at the tracks for what is always a nice day, rain or shine.

mark said...

Santa Anita is a very classy racetrack. No one in the universe calls a better race than Trevor Denman. Santa Anita is probably the most beautiful racetrack in the world. You took a very nice photo, I like it. And for the basketball fans in L.A. I want to remind them that the Lakers originated in Minnesota, The Land of 10000 Lakes. The Minneapolis Lakers won 5 NBA titles while in Minnesota. The original NBA franchise fee for the Lakers was $15,000. Times have changed.

Mister Earl said...

A friend of mine had a birthday party lunch at Santa Anita. I think it was in the area inside the track. I really want to go to Clockers for breakfast one of these days.

Yes, race track betting is down and tracks and race promoters are hurting. There was an article about it in the LA Times not long ago.

I used to live right next door to Del Mar race track at Coast Highway and Via de la Valle. Lots of old movie star names connected with that. The stars pretty much built that track, I think. My land lady had a lot of good stories, like the time a jockey brought a sick horse to his apartment to care for it overnight. She made a lot of money from jockeys' tips.

Petrea said...

Ha ha, J. You mean you don't think Best Mobiles crafted that personal message for me?

I don't know if my two Anonymouses are the same, but thanks for your comments. I've always thought I'd like to try the fancy restaurants at the track when I'm feeling flush.

That answers the question I've been asking myself today, Mark. Why "Lakers"? Why not "Mountaineers" or "Beachers"?

Good story, Mister Earl. I remember reading about Bing Crosby and his friends and Del Mar. I've got an image in my brain of horse races, sunlight and creased white pants.

Anonymous said...

For just about the price of one ticket to one of the franchised team sports, one could take the entire family to a day at the track. Yep, sounds like a good plan in these cash-strapped times. In this case, Anonymous like race horses, art, Ohio River steamboat history and is questing for a pair of beautiful shoes to fit a square foot.

Petrea said...

Ha ha, Anonymous! Sounds like you've got a plan.

Pascal Jim said...

So... Excursion time...who would like to take the train to Del Mar on opening day?

Diana said...

I had never heard of Clockers' Corner, so thank you for introducing me to yet another cool thing to do in the area!

Petrea said...

Diana, I think you'll like it. Nothing fancy, but there's nothing like it.

Pascal Jim, when's opening day? I just might be up for it.

USelaine said...

I lived not far from this track for a few years of my childhood. I even attended kindergarten at a school named for a jockey - Longden, but I never went to the track itself.

I now live near the ranch where Seabiscuit "retired" and is buried. The Hillenbrand book was a very big deal up here, and the subsequent enthusiasm enabled the current ranch owners to invest in restoration of the historic buildings, and form a nonprofit foundation for its continued protection.

Dina said...

You get to sit and see the horses working out?? Great! My kind of place. Great idea.

Petrea said...

Elaine, some nostalgia: Steve Scauzillo has just started Temple City Daily Photo. Longden School is in his purview, I understand. Maybe if you ask nicely he'll take some pictures.
http://templecitydailyphoto.blogspot.com/

Dina, if you click on the link to Altadena Hiker in this post you'll see some good pictures of the horses working out.