Horse Racing Partnerships Reflect on Racing at Hollywood Park
For the last several years the owners of Hollywood Park, now named Betfair Hollywood Park, have been threatening to develop the land that the track resides on. This creates a troublesome problem for thoroughbred horse racing syndicates and thoroughbred horse racing in southern California as a whole. The majority of the current horse population resides at either Santa Anita racetrack or Betfair Hollywood Park for most of the year, and closing Hollywood would displace necessary barns that house half of the thoroughbred population in Southern California.
Hollywood Park was inaugurated in 1938 by the Hollywood Turf Club and has been a Southern California staple for thoroughbred horse racing since its inception. Its history is rich, hosting the inaugural Breeders’ Cup in 1984 as well hosting the event in 1987 and 1997. The track was also the venue for the first million dollar earning horse, Citation, who broke the mark in the Hollywood Gold Cup in 1951. Hollywood Park was also home to one of America’s most famed and loved mares of all time, Zenyatta.
With all its history and the state of racing today in conjunction with our current economic status, the owners feel that developing the land is more important than the future of racing. In 2005 Churchill Downs Inc. sold Hollywood Park for about $120 million more than they purchased it for 6 years earlier, to current owner, Bay Meadows Land Company. As part of the deal, Bay Meadows Land Company had to continue racing for at least three years after they purchased Hollywood. Since those three years have passed it seems like each year they threaten to close the track, but each year racing continues. Unfortunately, this year seems a little more serious, and real action has been taken by the CHRB ,TOC, and CTT to fill the likely void.
The biggest issue at hand is, where do all the horses that reside and train at Hollywood Park move to? In recent months CA trainers, owners, and the CHRB have been working with both Fairplex, that carries a couple weeks of racing in September, and Los Alamitos which carries mainly quarter horse racing, to help with this issue. Originally it was thought that the best solution would be to have one of these tracks expand the length of their race track so that dates could be added that would be lost from Hollywood. After months of speculation and rumors, it seemed like Fairplex was the best option but they have recently said that they would be unable to raise the necessary money to fund the track renovations, according to an article in the Bloodhorse. The article does state that Fairplex is happy to offer its stalls and facilities in any way that it can to aid in the housing and training of horses. This solves the biggest issue at hand for now, but Southern CA is still left with the end of April through the 2nd week of July and from the second week of November up until Christmas with no venue for racing. The latest tentative plan would be to extend Santa Anita’s Winter/Spring meet through July 4. Then, the Del Mar Summer meet would run from the second week of July and extend an extra week in September. Fairplex would run its normal meet, and following that, Santa Anita would pick up and run through earlier November where at that point Del Mar would pick up fall dates for the balance of the month, leaving a few weeks in December up in the air.
In recent years horse racing has been a haven for constant change and ebbs and flows in the economy. The news that this may be in fact the final year at Hollywood Park is not a surprise but still saddening to many racing fans and thoroughbred partnerships alike. For us at Blinkers On Racing Stable, we see Hollywood Park as a home, where we like to condition many of our young horses as they make their way to the races. A great example was Turbulent Descent, who resided at Hollywood Park even during the Santa Anita meet, Hollywood was her home. She broke her maiden there, and went on to win the Moccasin Stakes, and the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet all as a two year old. It wasn’t until her final race for the Blinkers On Partners that she raced at Hollywood Park again, after winning the G1 Santa Anita Oaks, G2 Beaumont and G1 Test Stakes, she returned to Hollywood to win the Desert Stormer Handicap. This made her a perfect 4 for 4 at Hollywood Park and an end to an amazing career with Blinkers On Racing Stable.
Horse racing partnerships around Southern California I am sure share similar memories with the track, but know that racing will continue whether Hollywood stays or not. As long as the game continues to bring in and retain people passionate about horse racing it will continue to grow and flourish. And in the end no one can say for certain at this point that this really is the final year at Hollywood Park.
Blinkers On Racing Stable, a leader in thoroughbred horse racing partnerships, brings together the finest in thoroughbred horse racing expertise with the best in business know-how, and above all, a team of people you can trust, to manage your investment. We are committed to helping you experience the joys of thoroughbred horse ownership. For more information on thoroughbred partnerships visit our website or request an information package about our partnership. Keep up with horse racing in California by reading our Blog, finding us on Facebook, following us on Twitter, checking us out on LinkedIn, or visiting our YouTube Channel!