The 2013 Autumn meet at Betfair Hollywood Park was affirmed during the California Horse Racing Board meeting Thursday, January 17 at Santa Anita. The live portion of the 33rd Autumn season is scheduled to begin Thursday, Nov. 7. The season will conclude Sunday, Dec. 22.
The 2013 Spring/Summer meet, which will commemorate the historic track’s 75th anniversary, will commence Thursday, April 25 and continue through Sunday, July 14.
Marge Everett, who past away last year, was chairman of Hollywood Park until 1991. Marge was raised in a race track family and upon college graduation in 1939, she became part of the Chicago race track scene. A friend of live horse racing, Marge would be pleased that Hollywood Park is still maintaining live racing dates. In the small world department, Marge’s husband, Webb Everett participated in Kentucky Derby Tours www.kentuckyderbytours.com when he was a racing secretary at Santa Anita Park.
Hollywood Park opened to horse racing in 1938 as the Hollywood Turf Club. Its chairman was Harry Warner of Warner Brothers, and its 600 shareholders included Hollywood luminaries, including another Brother, Jack. Harry Warner, Al Jolson and Raoul Walsh were members of the founding Board of Directors and Mervyn LeRoy was a director from 1941 until his death in 1987.
Hollywood Park closed from 1942 to 1944 due to World War II, where it was used as a storage facility. In 1949, the grandstand and clubhouse were destroyed by a fire; the rebuilt facility reopened in 1950. I have a vivid memory of meeting Ray Bolger (he played the scarecrow in ‘The Wizaed of Oz’) at Hollywood Park’s Turf Club as a child, and him showing me part of his dancing from ‘The Wizard of Oz’. I talked about it for years! Heck, I’m still talking about it!
In 1984, the race track was extended from 1-mile around to 11⁄8-mile around. It became a challenge for many jockeys who did not want to miss the finish line (ala Bill Shoemaker at the Kentucky Derby). A card club casino was added to the complex in 1994. Churchill Downs, Inc. bought the facility for $140 million in 1999.
In July 2005, Churchill Downs Incorporated sold the track to the Bay Meadows Land Company for $260 million in cash. Under the terms of the deal, the company, which operates Bay Meadows in San Mateo, was to continue thoroughbred racing at Hollywood Park for at least three years. According to Bay Meadows officials, the continuation of Hollywood Park as a racing venue after that depends on California allowing more gambling, like slot machines, to the track.
Some of the Hollywood Park land has been sold to real estate developers to build a new housing community called the Inglewood Renaissance. Development began in 2005.
In 2010, Hollywood Park played host for the first time to Oak Tree Racing Association who had always been at Santa Anita Park.
Tags: Bay Meadows Land Company, Betfair, Bill Shoemaker, California Horse Racing Board, Churchill Downs, Hollywood Park, Hollywood Turf Club, horse racing, jpckeys, Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Derby Tours, Marge Everett, Oak Tree Racing Association, race track, racing secretary, Ray Bolger, Santa Anita Park, The Wizard of Oz, Webb Everett