After 75 years, Hollywood Park to host final races

In it’s heyday, celebrities such as Cary Grant, Lucille Ball and Fred Astaire would linger in the box seats at Hollywood Park, on Sunday, they will run their last race.

After 75 years, Hollywood Park will host its final races Sunday before closing for good.

Eleven races are scheduled for the track’s final day, beginning at 12:30 p.m. and ending with the $200,000 King Glorious Stakes for 2-year-olds.

The Inglewood racetrack, where Seabiscuit won the inaugural running of the Hollywood Gold Cup, has seen some of the greatest thoroughbreds in history race -- Citation, Swaps, Ack Ack, Native Diver, John Henry, Landaluce and Zenyatta, among them.

PHOTOS: The long goodbye


Formed in 1938 under the chairmanship of Jack L. Warner, of the Warner Bros. studio, the track was named by its film industry founders and meant to attract the rich and famous. Among its original 600 shareholders were Al Jolson, Walt Disney, Bing Crosby, Sam Goldwyn and Mervyn LeRoy.

Sunday racing debuted at the park in 1973, and a tote bag promotion drew a record crowd of 80,348 on May 4, 1980. The $1-million Pick Six was begun in 1998. California’s first synthetic track surface, the Cushion Track, was installed in 2006.

But the rise of Internet betting, simulcast wagering and changing demographics have put horse racing in Southern California in a precarious position.

Since the track was sold in 2005, developing the land has been the primary goal, especially since the business model for horse racing has been facing severe challenges from a dwindling horse population, lagging on-track attendance and continual industry infighting.

Pins commemorating the track’s storied history will be given away Sunday, and a closing day farewell gala will be held at the Turf Club.

The stable area will remain open for another month, and an auction is planned to sell off memorabilia and other racing assets.


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