While this December (the 25th), will mark the 80th anniversary of this venerable thoroughbred racetrack, which has hosted many champion racehorses and been the backdrop for numerous films, it is tomorrow, Friday, October 31st, and Saturday, November 1st, which are most important to the racing world at large. The Breeder's Cup World Championship With a purse of $5 million, it is touted as being the richest race in America.
With the closure of Hollywood Park last December (after 75 years) and more recently, the Pomona Fairplex, just a few miles east of here, Santa Anita has pulled into the lead as the remaining true champion of West Coast racing. Of course, further south remains San Diego County's Del Mar, which was said to be a favorite of Old-Hollywood's crooner, Bing Crosby, but there's something special about Santa Anita. My late cousin, Barbara, (who celebrated her birthday here on several occasions and who passed away shortly before the ponies returned to Santa Anita last Christmas) loved going from Santa Anita to Hollywood Park to Del Mar and back again. As far as being dedicated to something or someone, she could have easily stood shoulder to shoulder with any diehard Grateful Dead fan.
Our tour guide, Paige, who has worked at Santa Anita for over 30 years (she started at 16), definitely knows the ins and outs of The Park. The Seabiscuit Tram Tour leaves promptly at 8:30 & 9:45 a.m., on both days, and was more than worth the price of admission. (Oh wait, it was FREE! But you get my point.) The tour is about an hour and 15 minutes, after which you can have breakfast at The Clocker's Corner restaurant, just west of the Grandstand, or roam the grounds on your own and wait for the first race of the day at noon. I'm not much of a gambler, so I stayed for only two races, lost about $10 and swiftly left for fear of losing my shirt, as well as, my future child's college fund. Happy betting.
Santa Anita Race Track
285 West Huntington Drive
Arcadia, CA 91007
(Live Racing Resumes December 26, 2014 - June 28, 2015)
Seabiscuit Tram Tours:
(Saturday & Sundays, during live Racing Seasons)
8:30 a.m. & 9:45 a.m.
Thursday: 11:00 – 5:30
Friday: 11:00 – 5:30
Saturday: 10:30 – 5:30
Sunday: 10:30 – 5:30