This year, 2008, marks Hollywood Park's 70th Anniversary!
Hollywood Park opened it's doors in 1938 as the Hollywood Turf Club. Warner Brothers executive Jack Warner was the first charmain of the Club. Several Hollywood luminaries including Bing Crosby, Walt Disney, Samuel Goldwyn, Joan Blondell, Irene Dunne and Mervyn LeRoy (who also served as director of Hollywood Park from 1941 until his death in 1986).
Architect Stiles O. Clements and landscape architect Edward Huntsman-Trout designed the Streamline Moderne style clubhouse in 1937. Fred Barlow, Jr. designed later additions.
Great Hollywood stories abound, as in 1951, when Citation won the Hollywood Gold Cup becoming the first horse to win $1- million. In 1979, Affirmed won the Hollywood Gold Cup and became the first horse to break the $2-million mark. Then came the great John Henry, who in 1983, became the first million dollar horse by winning the Hollywood Turf Cup.
Hollywood Park hosted the inaugural Breeders Cup in 1984 and two more Breeders Cups in 1987 and 1997. During the 1987 Breeders Cup, the on-track attendance was over 64,000 with an on-track take of well over $14,000,000 and in 1997 it saw over 51,000 on-track attendance with a handle of over $79,000,000.
Laffit Pincay broke the record for most wins, surpassing Bill Shoemaker as the winningest jockey of all time, on December 10, 1999 in the sixth race that day with his mount Irish Nip. This was his 8,834th win - one more than Bill Shoemaker's 8,833 wins he had accumulated when he retired in 1990.
Many Triple Crown winners graced the grounds of Hollywood Park - Affirmed (1978), Seattle Slew (1977) and as far back as Citation in 1948.
Often referred to as the "Track of the Lakes and Flowers", the infield lakes were dredged in 1991 during a revitalization project. The Garden Paddock was also constructed in 1991 and the finish line was relocated to its original position, (which had been moved prior to the first Breeders Cup), allowing the fans a closer view of the action. Hollywood Park was the first California track to install a synthetic racing surface in 2006. The paddodck area was redesighend in to the "Europena" style paddock area that we see today.
a The first Hollywood Gold Cup was won by Seabiscuit in 1938. The great Round Table won it in 1957. Native Diver won 3 consecutive Gold Cups in 1955, 1956 and 1957. Lava Man, the only other horse to have matched Native Diver's record, captured three consecutive Gold Cups in 2005, 2006 and 2007. The Gold Cup is one of the most prestigious races in the world, ranking along side the Triple Crown, Breeders Cup and Santa Anita Handicap. Other great races held annually at Hollywood Park include the American Oaks and Cash Call Mile which are also held during the Spring/Summer meet with the Gold Cup.
Some of the greatest horses in history have raced at Hollywood Park as evidenced by the names of all the Hollywood Gold Cup winners engraved in this wall commemorating the winners. As you exit the Club House, this is what you see. When you leave the parking lot and travel north, you will notice a street named after the great Kelso and Laffitt Pincay, Jr.
Monument and burial site of the great Native Diver for all to see as it is the centerpiece of the walking ring.
Final resting place of Great Communicator (left) and Landaluce (right). As you look out over the infield from the grandstand/clubhouse, look for the horse and rider topiary which can be seen to the right towards the clubhouse turn. At the base of that little hill are Great Communicator and Landaluce. Although the public is not admitted to the infield, we had the special privilege of touring it on a lovely sunny morning.