The event: The Breeders’ Cup, Nov. 1-2 at Santa Anita Racetrack, offering purses up to $5 million, attracting racing enthusiasts from all over the world and prompting the most fashionable patrons to top off in fancy hats or fascinators.
Of note: Hatless in a pretty printed day dress, Elizabeth Banks numbered among the more conservative spectators, a far cry from her character Effie Trinket’s ornate ensembles in “The Hunger Games.”
Banks said she grew up in western Massachusetts near Saratoga, where she first became interested in horse racing, later spending time at Santa Anita during the filming of “Seasbiscuit.” There to present Saturday’s final trophy, she and her husband, producer Max Handelman, spent the afternoon in the Trophy Lounge, perusing the racing program and placing their bets.
The crowd: Kristin Chenoweth, Toni Braxton, Jakob Dylan and Joan Osborne sang between the races. More VIPs included Jerry Ferrara of “Entourage,” John Ortiz of “Luck,” Bo Derek of “10,” celebrity chef Bobby Flay, sportscaster Jim Rome, baseball great Joe Torre, Denver Bronco Wes Welker, skateboarder Rob Dyrdek, actress Laura Bell Bundy of “Anger Management,” actor Jerry O’Connell of “Veronica Mars,” Montblanc North America President and Chief Executive Jan-Patrick Schmitz and Breeders’ Cup Chief Executive Craig Fravel.
Quotes of note: “We’re breaking the ceiling on tradition,” said Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora, before playing a Call to Post, Sambora-style. “It’s traditional for hundreds of years to sound the bugle. So when they asked me if I could do it on guitar, I said, ‘Of course.’ It’s appropriate and it’s not out of context because I’ve been a horse-racing fan all my life.’”
Describing how the racetrack is chosen for the Breeders’ Cup each year, Fravel said, “It’s a beauty contest.” Given the meet’s international appeal, Fravel counted among deciding factors the availability of quality hotels, fine dining and shopping venues. And of course, there’s the weather.
“The one thing we constantly get compliments on here is the weather,” he said, adding that next year’s meet will also take place at Santa Anita.
Side note: Chef Flay hosted Friday’s “Taste of the World” at the Huntington Library in San Marino, allowing horse owners, trainers, jockeys and others to sample foods and wines at 16 nation-themed stations.
“With great horses, we need great food,” Flay said.
Read more about Los Angeles social events at Society News LA.
[For the Record, 2:49 p.m. PST Nov. 4: An earlier version of this post misidentified Jim Rome as Jim Rose.]
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