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TURN OUT THE LIGHTS

Posted by on 12/18/2013 8:20:15 PM

Dallas Cowboys star Don Meredith was known for singing ‘turn out the lights, the party’s over’ when a Monday Night Football game was in the bag but they will be turning the lights out for good at Hollywood Park on Sunday December 22 and online sports betting site players will be losing an institution.

Runners that raced at Hollywood read like a who’s who of the game. 

Seabiscuit won the first Hollywood Gold Cup. Citation became the sport’s first millionaire racer when he won the same race.

Affirmed and the great Cigar stopped at Hollywood to perform their magic.

John Henry, Lava Man, Native Diver, Zenyatta all thrived at this Inglewood track, but Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew tasted defeat at the hands of J.O. Tobin in 1977.

Founded by the Warner Brothers 75 years ago, legends like Elizabeth Taylor, John Wayne, Richard Pryor, Walt Disney, Al Jolson, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart were frequent visitors but in the future the visitors to the 238-acre sight will be shoppers or residents.

Nostalgia comes into play here and there have been some super natural things that have occurred at Hollywood over the decades but the change to the complexion of the racing scene in California will be dealt a serious blow.

The Santa Anita meeting will be extended, as will the Del Mar meeting and that could be an iffy situation. The great thing about Anita was that it was perfect for the calendar. The weather is nice in the San Gabriel Valley through April and when the smog started to roll in, the horses rolled out to Hollywood.

That is no longer an option.

Del Mar is great for one reason because it is a niche meet. Everybody likes ice cream, but you can’t eat it everyday and Del Mar will run the risk of losing its niche status.

In prior years, horsemen, fans, handicappers looked forward to relax a little where the surf meets the turf but now it could become more of a grind.

Los Alamitos is in the process of expanding their track to a mile and they will have small meets there in the summer and the fall.

In the late 1970s Los Al also had a fall meet and it was a good one. Horses came from all over to compete but that was a different age. It’s hard to imagine the quality of racing at Los Al will be anything like the quality at Anita or Del Mar.

And you can’t fool the fans.

The people that made the track go round will suffer. There will be a trickle down effect that could be devastating.

Take the stance of jockey agent Vince DeGregory, who had handle the book for superstars like Angel Cordero and Laffit Pincay Jr., Degregory: “Corporations buy and sell racetracks like they are toys. People are going to be crucified as a result of this track closing. Where are they going to get a job after 40 years of working here?

Another one bites the dust.

In 1984, I was present at Hollywood Park for the inaugural Breeders’ Cup. I set the morning line for the Daily Racing Form for that first Cup and it was truly the dawn of a new era.

Some of the fixtures will be moved to Los Alamitos, which is in the process of expanding its track for several weeks of racing next year and some of the fixture will be auctioned off.


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