Hollywood Park Racetrack
2012 SPRING/SUMMER MEET
- Dates: April 26 – July 15
- Hollywood Park 2012 Spring/Summer Racing Schedule: Thursday through Sunday
Hollywood Park Racetrack Information
Main track (Cushion): 1 1/8-mile oval with a 7 1/2-furlong chute
Length of stretch from last turn to finish line: 991 feet
Width of stretch: 92 feet
Banking on turns: 6%
Composition: Cushion Track
Turf track: 1 mile, 165 foot oval with diagonal chute
Length of stretch from last turn to finish line: 990 feet
Width of stretch: 64 feet
Banking on turns: 6%
About Hollywood Park Racetrack
Given its location, it’s not a surprise that Hollywood Park Racetrack is attended by the rich and famous. Located in Inglewood, California, between San Diego and Bakersfield, Hollywood Park has been in existence since June 10, 1938. On that date, Jack Warner from Warner Brothers studio formed the Hollywood Turf Club. Among the shareholders were Bing Crosby, Walt Disney, George Jessel, Wallace Beery, Irene Dunne and Mervyn LeRoy.
From 1942-44, the racetrack was closed because of World War II and was used as a storage facility during the conflict. In 1949, Hollywood Park battled a raging fire that consumed the clubhouse and the grandstand. After one year, the track was repaired and racing began anew in January 1950. One year later, history was made when Citation became the first horse to win a $1-million prize, a feat accomplished in the Hollywood Gold Cup.
On May 10, 1967, Hollywood Park unveiled a Turf course that featured four chutes with a total length of one mile and a width of 150 feet. In 1971, the track made history again when it introduced the exacta wager. This was a massive leap for horse racing as exacta wagers have become one of the most common types of horse bets on any circuit, anywhere. An exacta is when you pick the first two horses of a single race to cross the finish line in the exact order.
As Hollywood Park became more popular it was imperative that renovations be made to meet the expectations of horse bettors. In 1972, Hollywood Park doubled its Turf course, added a restaurant called “The Winner’s Circle Dining Room” and made upgrades to the stable area.
During the next 20 years, Hollywood Park broke many records and crossed many barriers in the racing industry. In 1980, it became the first racetrack to average more than $5 million in handle and in 1983 the Hollywood Futurity was not only the first $1-million race for thoroughbred 2-year-olds, it was the richest race staged for thoroughbreds at the time with a purse of $1,049,725.
In 1999, Churchill Downs Inc. purchased Hollywood Park for an estimated $140 million. The deal included the Hollywood Park Casino, which was leased back to Hollywood Park Inc. (now Pinnacle Entertainment Inc.) for 10 years at an annual rate of $3 million, with one 10-year renewal option. On-track handle was up 11.3 percent and on-track attendance up 2.1 percent during the 31-day Autumn Meeting of 2000 – the first under the stewardship of Churchill Downs.
Work began in 2006 to replace the Hollywood Park main track with an engineered Cushion Track racing surface. Cushion Track is a mixture of silica sand, synthetic fibers, elastic fiber, granulated rubber and a wax coating. The resurfacing project was completed on September 13, 2006, just in time for Hollywood Park’s fall 2006 meeting. Hollywood Park Racetrack was the first track in California to install a safer artificial surface, but Del Mar followed soon after with the installation of a Polytrack surface. In 2006 the California Horse Racing Board issued a mandate that all major Thoroughbred racetracks in California install synthetic surfaces on their main tracks by 2008.
Other Hollywood Park History
Hollywood Park is one of the nation’s premiere thoroughbred race tracks and it’s located next to the Forum in Inglewood.
Yet the name is still appropriate, since a surprising number of Hollywood celebrities are involved in the Sport of Kings. It wasn’t hard to spot a familiar face at the track, especially if you hung around the winner’s circle. And since a recent multimillion dollar facelift which added fountains, gardens, and a European-style walking ring, the historic “track of lakes and flowers” is indeed looking more like a verdant park.
At the racetrack’s beginning in 1938, many of the original shareholders at Hollywood Park were stars, including Al Jolson and Raoul Walsh (two of the original directors of the board), Bing Crosby, Walt Disney, Ronald Colman, Wallace Beery, Irene Dunne, Joan Blondell, Sam Goldwyn, Darryl Zanuck, George Jessel, Ralph Bellamy and Mervyn LeRoy (the man who gave us “The Wizard of Oz,” and who served as the director of Hollywood Park from 1941 until his death in 1986).
Many of the stars owned and raced their own stable of horses.
Telly Savalas, for instance, owned the renowned “Telly’s Pop.” (For a big race, Savalas once made a dramatic entrance at the track via a helicopter.) Bing Crosby not only owned race horses, but he was a shareholder in Hollywood Park and built the Del Mar race track near San Diego.
Fred Astaire loved the races, and actually married a female jockey in his latter years. Louis B. Mayer became so obsessed with his stable of ponies that he was given an ultimatum by M-G-M: produce horses or produce pictures. Cary Grant was such a regular at Hollywood Park that after he died, they named their new clubhouse the Cary Grant Pavilion. Al Jolson was an avid owner of racehorses, as was Michael Landon and even rapper MC Hammer.
Other owners of racehorses include actor Kevin Costner, quizmaster Alex Trebek (“Jeopardy!”), country singer George Strait, comic Tim Conway, and Nash Bridges’ Don Johnson (whose horse won $300,000 in one race.) Other celebs are friends of owners; some are simply big racing fans.
The racing program and the Daily Racing Form both list the owners of each horse, so you could sometimes anticipate the arrival of a particular celebrity in the winners circle. Other celebrities were actually on the Board of Directors at the park, such as actor John Forsythe, producer Howard Koch, and Mervyn LeRoy (who directed “Gypsy,” “Little Caesar,” and “The Bad Seed”).
But even without the Racing Form, spotting a famous face in the Winners Circle at Hollywood Park wasn’t hard. Over the years Cary Grant, Richard Dreyfuss, Michael Landon, Merv Griffin, Annette Funicello, Jack Benny’s wife, Mary Livingston, General Omar Bradley, John Forsythe, baseball manager Jim Fregosi, and Burt Reynolds & Loni Anderson (when they were still together) where known to be seen at the races.