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THE LAST HURRAH

Posted by on 11/11/2013 8:55:54 PM

Some are still trying to wish the inevitable away, but the truth of the matter is that Hollywood Park is on it’s last legs and will be closing the doors for good on December 22 and there will be some sad faces in Inglewood.

Long-time online sports betting site players have enjoyed this venue for decades and the memories are palpable.

Before we get into what we will all be missing, know that this track is as safe as a synthetic track in the country. It plays fair, meaning you can win from anywhere with the right kind of pace, but generally one wants to maintain contact with the leaders early to have the best chances of success.

Traditionally some barns have excelled on this side of town and those stables should be watched this meeting.

Of course, the usual suspects like Bob Baffert, John Sadler and Doug O’Neill will have solid success here basically because it’s pure numbers. But there are some smaller barns than can get the job done.

Last season, Marty Jones, whose father Gary was one of the best California horsemen of all time, sent out 20 starters. Five won and 6 others ran in the money.

Julio Canani and Tom Proctor will do it with quality rather than quantity. At least year’s winter meet they sent out a combined total of 13 starters and 6 reached the winner’s circle with happy endings.

Janet Armstrong is far from a household training name but she won with half of her 4 starters last winter at this meet.

Several trainers only sent out one runner and won with that horse. They are Dennis Ekins, John Martin, Andy Mathis, Ken McPeek and Todd Pletcher. Watch for those names in the entries.

As far as what has happened at Hollypark over the decades, it was not unusual to see movie star legends like Alfred Hitchcock, Elizabeth Taylor or John Wayne taking in the action at this venue.

One of the events that changed the national complexion of racing was the day that J.O. Tobin ran away and hid from Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.

And he just didn’t nip the Slew; he beat him by 16 lengths.

For loyal locals, maybe no more important horse was Native Diver, who won the Gold Cup 3 years in a row.

I’m happy to say I set the morning line for the Daily Racing Form and was in attendance in 1984 for the inaugural Breeders’ Cup. And that day you have a little bit of everything including disqualifications, one that cost me a ton of cash.

You never forget those tough beats.

The great Laffit Pincay Jr. became the all-time winningest rider at one point and he left that track that day with a prize that was faster than the horses he was riding. The prize was a white Porsche.

More recently, Lava Man duplicated the feat by Native Diver winning the Gold Cup in hat trick style and fans will never forget the late charge of the great Zenyatta, who was unbeaten at this track.

With Hollypark near history, the entire California structure of racing will change. The dates Hollywood had were ideal for the climate in Southern California as it is too hot in the summer to race at Santa Anita not to mention the smog factor.

Anita, Del Mar and Los Alamitos will divvy up the Hollypark dates in the future, but if one gets a chance to travel to L.A. before the end of the year, don’t miss the pleasure of attending this legendary emporium.


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