Hollywood Park Racetrack
Aerial view of Hollywood Park in 2006. The L.A. Forum is visible to the upper left.
|Location||Inglewood, California, USA|
|Owned by||Bay Meadows Land Co. (Stockbridge Capital Group)|
|Date opened||June 10, 1938|
|Date closed||December 22, 2013|
|Course type||Thoroughbred. Flat: Synthetic & Turf.|
|Notable races||Hollywood Gold Cup (G1)|
American Oaks Invitational (G1)
Hollywood Derby (G1)
Matriarch Stakes (G1)
Oak Tree Racing Association:
Yellow Ribbon Stakes (G1)
Hirsch Memorial Turf Championship Stakes (G1)
Ancient Title Stakes (G1)
Hollywood Park, later sold and referred to as Betfair Hollywood Park, was a thoroughbred race course located in Inglewood, California, about 3 miles (5 km) from Los Angeles International Airport and adjacent to the Forum indoor arena. In 1994 Hollywood Park Casino, with a poker card room, was added to the racetrack complex. Horse racing and training were shut down in December 2013 though the casino operations continued while a new state of the art casino building opened in October 2016.
The former horse racetrack area will be the site of SoFi Stadium, home of the Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers of the National Football League (NFL), when the stadium is completed in 2020. Until then, the Rams temporarily play home games at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Downtown Los Angeles and the Chargers play at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson.
Founding and early years
The track was opened on June 10, 1938 by the Hollywood Turf Club the racetrack was designed by noted racetrack architect Arthur Froehlich. Its chairman was Jack L. Warner of the Warner Bros. film studio. Prominent shareholders included Jack Warner's brother and fellow Warner Bros. executive Harry, Hollywood studio executives Walt Disney, Samuel Goldwyn, Darryl Zanuck, actors Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Joan Blondell, George Jessel, Ronald Colman and Ralph Bellamy. In addition to being shareholders film directors Raoul Walsh and Mervyn LeRoy were also founding members of the track's Board of Directors with Jack and Harry Warner and Al Jolson.
War closure and rebuilding
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. In 1984, the racetrack was extended from one mile (1.6 km) around to 1 1⁄8 miles (1.8 km) around prior to the first Breeders Cup race. Harness racing also took place at Hollywood Park.
By the late 1980s the racetrack Hollywood Park, though frequented by celebrities, was near the point of bankruptcy. As of 1989, a group of investors was working to buy Los Alamitos Racetrack in California for $68 million. Los Alamitos, owned by Hollywood Park, was still under its original ownership as of 1991, though a significant portion of the stock had been bought by external investors. RD Hubbard became CEO of Hollywood Park in April 1991, after having purchased a portion of the company's stock in late 1990. He was assisted in the ouster of the former chairman Marje Everett, who had run Hollywood Park since 1972, by company shareholder Tom Gamel and sports businessman Harry Ornest. In 1991 $20 million was spent improving the racetrack. That year the park earned its first profit in five years, and despite rioting in nearby Los Angeles in 1992, annual profits that year increased to $5.4 million. By 1993, the Los Angeles Times wrote that "shareholders at Hollywood Park... are enjoying substantial investment gains." A card club casino was added to the complex in 1994, as Hollywood Park underwent a $100 million expansion into Hollywood Park Casino, which opened in the summer of 1994. Also in 1994, Hollywood Park Inc. purchased the Arizona-based Turf Paradise Race Track for $34 million in stock.
In May 1995 after the departure of the Rams for St. Louis, the owners of the National Football League teams approved with a 27-1 vote with two abstentions, a resolution supporting a plan to build a $200 million, privately financed stadium on property owned by Hollywood Park for the Los Angeles Raiders. Then Raiders owner Al Davis balked and refused the deal over a stipulation that he would have had to accept a second team at the stadium. After the deal fell through the Raiders returned to Oakland, California.
Hollywood Park Inc. suffered losses in 1995, though at the end of 1996, Hollywood Park bought Boomtown, Inc. for $188 million. Boomtown operated and owned casinos in several cities such as Las Vegas and New Orleans. Boomtown merged with the casino operator Pinnacle Entertainment in 1998. Hollywood Park was purchased by Churchill Downs Incorporated on September 10, 1999 for $140 million. Churchill Downs acquired Hollywood Park-Casino in the process, which was in turn leased by Hollywood Park Inc. (later named Pinnacle Entertainment). The previous owners of the track renamed their company Pinnacle Entertainment to concentrate on its gambling interests.
Sale and later developments
In July 2005, Churchill Downs Incorporated sold the track to the Bay Meadows Land Company which was owned by Stockbridge Capital Group for $260 million in cash. Under the terms of the deal, the company, which at the time also operated 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 depended on California allowing more gambling, like slot machines, to the track.
Some of the Hollywood Park land was sold to real estate developers to build a new housing community called the Inglewood Renaissance. Development began in 2005.
New grass was planted on the turf course after Hollywood Park's spring-summer meet in 2005. Due to safety concerns, however, turf racing was not conducted for that year's autumn meet. As a result, several major stakes races that comprised Hollywood's Autumn Turf Festival were cancelled that year.
After the conclusion of Hollywood's spring-summer meet in 2006, it was announced that a second chute would be built inside the turf course to accommodate sprint races at six furlongs. This followed a similar move by Monmouth Park to build a turf chute for sprint races.
In 2010, Hollywood Park played host for the first time to Oak Tree.
Betfair/Hollywood Park Agreement
The Hollywood Park Racing Association and Betfair US, the Los Angeles-based subsidiary of Betfair that also owns TVG Network, completed a historic agreement March 13, 2012 intended to transform the customer experience for fans at the venue as well as online and on television. Under terms of the five-year deal, Hollywood Park was renamed "Betfair Hollywood Park in what was the first naming rights agreement for a horse racing venue in the United States.
Closure and redevelopment
On May 9, 2013 in a letter to employees, Hollywood Park president F. Jack Liebau announced that the track would be closing at the end of their fall racing season in 2013. In the letter, Liebau stated that the 260 acres on which the track sits "now simply has a higher and better use", and that "in the absence of a favorable change in racing's business model, the ultimate development of the Hollywood property was inevitable". It was expected that the track would be demolished and replaced by housing units, park land and an entertainment complex, while the casino would be renovated.
On December 22, 2013 at 6:11pm the final race was run with Woodsman Luck taking first place, Depreciable in second place and Danderek in third place, concluding 75 years of near-continuous racing in Southern California. The complex was demolished in 2014 to make way for a new residential complex.
In 2014, Stan Kroenke, owner of the NFL's St. Louis Rams, purchased a 60-acre parcel of land adjacent to the track property and The Forum with the intentions of building a National Football League stadium on the land. Kroenke's 60 acres was not big enough for an NFL stadium and parking, but his announced partnership for the neighboring track land with Stockbridge Capital Group, would fold the stadium into the larger office/retail/residential project planned for the track site by master planner Hart Howerton.
On February 24, 2015, the Inglewood City Council approved a plan to build an 70,000-seat football stadium on the site in anticipation of the St. Louis Rams moving back to Los Angeles (which was the team's previous home from 1946 until 1994). And on May 31, 2015, with the Inglewood mayor on hand sporting a Rams cap, the grandstand was reduced to rubble in a flurry of timed explosions.
On January 12, 2016, the NFL voted to move the Rams back to Los Angeles by a vote of 30-2, a move of the Chargers followed. In October 2016, the last part of the former track, the Casino, was demolished and a new Hollywood Park Casino was opened next door. Construction of the new stadium and redevelopment of the former track site began in earnest.
Notable events at the track
- In 1951, Citation became the first million-dollar-winning horse by winning his final start, the Hollywood Gold Cup.
- On July 3, 1977, recent Triple Crown winner, Seattle Slew, finished fourth in the Swaps Stakes, a major upset.
- Niatross wins the American Pacing Classic in a world record 1.52 1/5.
- Hosted the inaugural Breeders' Cup in 1984 and also hosted the event in 1987 and 1997.
- 1991 introduced Friday night racing on 12 Fridays during the summer meet.
- The Quarantine Barn, with four, six-stall sections, was constructed adjacent to the main stable gate for the 1992 Autumn Meet. This facility permits international shippers to come directly to Hollywood Park upon arrival at Los Angeles International Airport.
- The 3,000-square-foot (280 m2) Noble Threewitt/Charlie Whittingham Horsemen's Lounge opened in December, 1993.
- On December 10, 1999, Laffit Pincay, Jr. surpassed Bill Shoemaker's all-time record for race wins by a jockey.
- Cesario (JPN) becomes the first Japanese-bred, Japan-based racehorse to win an American stakes race in nearly 50 years, winning the July 2005 American Oaks.
- The race course is replicated in the 2013 video game Grand Theft Auto V.
The track had a 1 1⁄8-mile (1.8 km) dirt oval, plus a 1-mile 145 foot (1.654 km) turf oval. The track regularly seated 10,000 people. A new Cushion Track racing surface was installed in September, 2006 to replace the existing dirt, making Hollywood Park the first track in California to meet the California Horse Racing Board's guideline that all tracks in the state replace dirt surfaces with a safer artificial surface by the end of 2007.
These races were the graded stakes races run at Hollywood Park. (All turf stakes listed below were put on hiatus during the 2005 Autumn Meet.)
Grade 1 :
Grade 2 :
- A Gleam Invitational Handicap
- American Handicap
- Bayakoa Handicap
- Beverly Hills Handicap
- Californian Stakes
- CashCall Mile Invitational Stakes
- Charles Whittingham Memorial Handicap
- Dahlia Handicap
- Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks
- Hollywood Turf Cup Stakes
- Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap
- Lazaro Barrera Memorial Stakes
- Marjorie L. Everett Handicap
- Mervyn Leroy Handicap
- Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap
- Winter Stakes
- Sunset Handicap
- Swaps Stakes
Grade 3 :
- Affirmed Handicap
- Ack Ack Handicap
- Cinema Handicap
- Generous Stakes
- Hawthorne Handicap
- Hollywood Juvenile Championship Stakes
- Hollywood Prevue Stakes
- Hollywood Turf Express Handicap
- Inglewood Handicap
- Jim Murray Memorial Handicap
- Los Angeles Handicap
- Miesque Stakes
- Native Diver Handicap
- Railbird Stakes
- Senorita Stakes
- Vernon O. Underwood Stakes
- Will Rogers Stakes
- Wilshire Handicap
Ungraded stakes :
- Hollywood Park Casino, casino formerly part of the racetrack, still in operation in new facilities
- Bob Benoit (horse racing), general manager beginning in 1977
- Fast, Erik. "Hollywood Park Casino's Grand Opening Oct. 21". Card Player (October 21, 2016).
- Mazza, Sandy (August 9, 2016). "Take a peek inside the new Hollywood Park Casino in Inglewood before it opens". Daily Breeze.
- History of Hollywood Park, Retrieved October 20, 2012.
- SC Rewind: Hollywood Park, Standardbred Canada, Retrieved 11 June 2016
- Stallings, Dianne (August 26, 2010). "A complicated life". Ruidoso News. Archived from the original on June 19, 2015. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
- Christine, Bill (June 29, 1989). "Horse Racing : Get Out of Dodge: Hubbard Selling Interests in Kansas Tracks". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 19, 2015.
- Christine, Bill (February 19, 1991). "Hubbard Looks to Track's Future : Hollywood Park: He is working 15-hour days in his new role as president to get things ready for the April 24 opener". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2015-06-16.
- Christine, Bill (February 19, 1991). "Hubbard Looks to Track's Future : Hollywood Park: He is working 15-hour days in his new role as president to get things ready for the April 24 opener". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 16, 2015.
- Christine, Bill (November 17, 1993). "Change for the Bettor : Hollywood Park's Hubbard Fuels Innovation". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 6, 2015.
- "The day Al Davis walked away". espn.com. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
- "Churchill Downs Incorporated to Sell Hollywood Park to Bay Meadows Land Company; Racing Operations to Continue at Historic Inglewood Racetrack". businesswire.com. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
- The Orange County Register, July 7, 2005.
- "Inaugural Oak Tree At Hollywood Park Meet Will Begin Sept. 30; Zenyatta Scheduled To Return In $250,000 Lady's Secret On Oct. 2". Archived from the original on March 7, 2012. Retrieved October 20, 2012.
- Final Race at Hollywood Park on December 22, 2013 Video on YouTube (Retrieved May 8, 2014 from the OFFICIAL Hollywood Park YouTube channel).
- Vincent, Sam Farmer, Roger. "Owner of St. Louis Rams plans to build NFL stadium in Inglewood". latimes.com. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
- "Architect Paul Milana on Revitalization and Revival | Hollywood Park". www.hollywoodparklife.com. Retrieved 2016-04-11.
- "Inglewood approves stadium plans". ESPN. Associated Press. February 25, 2015. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
- Was this the greatest of them all?, www.harnessbred.com, Retrieved 11 June 2016
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