A Day at the Races

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Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, CA
By Angela Rocco DeCarlo, copyright, 2010

While it doesn’t look like a scene from an old Marx Brothers movie anymore, a day at the races is still a fun enterprise, whether you know the score or not. Recently a group of school chums from Chicago wanted to try their luck. We spent a pleasurable few hours in the grandstands trying to figure out betting techniques, while discussing long-ago prom dates. Some were more successful than others in both the racing results and prom picks. Nothing to be done about the long-past prom, but it may be worthwhile to attend the free classes offered at the track for some assistance.

Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California, is approximately 14 miles Northwest of downtown Los Angeles, and about an hour from Orange County (location of Disneyland) and is noted for its picturesque mountain view setting. The current racing schedule runs from Wednesdays through Sundays with varied times for the first race. It’s best to check the day you want to go for the starting times. The first race can be noon, 12:30 or 1:00 p.m.

Good to know: on Thursdays seniors are admitted for free and on Fridays everyone is admitted for free – general admission – with the added incentives of $1 hot dogs, beer, soda, popcorn and coffee. There is a fee for parking.

The Park is a beauty and there’s plenty to see and do besides the actual races. The free Seabiscuit Tram Tour, which I took some years ago, was fascinating. It starts early – 8:30 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. – but is worth the effort. Reservations are required: (626) 574-6677. Tram pick up is at Clocker’s Corner and takes visitors to the stable area, receiving barn and paddock gardens. There’s a look at what is said to be racehorse Seabiscuit’s original stall and barn, and some areas used during the filming of the movie, Seabiscuit. I found the look inside the jockey’s room and silks room fascinating as “backstage” insights are always revealing. Locker rooms for any sport are utilitarian places giving a view of the working world of the athletes, not always a glamorous place.

For those who want to have a leg up on how the racetrack betting operates there are some free classes. On the day I recently visited there was “Beginners’ Seminar” at noon. The class was a 45-minute presentation covering the basics of using the facilities of the park. The class took place at the East Paddock Gardens. Weather permitting the class takes place every race day at Santa Anita.

Jim Guinn’s “Simple Techniques” classes are held every Sunday in the Baldwin Terrace from11:30 a.m. until the feature race of the day. The program includes early speed, current form, Beyer speed pars & Beyer figures, late speed on the grass, and much more. Extensive materials and free track programs are provided.Sessions are free.

“Big ‘CapDay” is Saturday, March 6, celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the race track. All fans, with paid admission, while supplies last, will receive a free 75th anniversary wall clock. There is a $500,000 guaranteed pick 4, which is billed as the payoff of a lifetime.

Santa Anita Park is a pretty place – good for reminiscing or dreaming of creating tomorrow’s fortune…good luck.

Santa Anita Park
285 W. Huntington Drive
Arcadia, CA91007

Angela Rocco DeCarlo, copyright, 2010

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