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55,000 Furlongs to the Finish

Memories of Hollywood Park

It was nearly 15 years ago when I made my first visit to a racetrack. My grandparents were visiting my family in Los Angeles and we had a “down day” with nothing on the schedule. So my mother suggested that we all go to Hollywood Park. This was my introduction to the world of racing, and although it did not leave a lasting impression at the time, I would later revisit the foundation that mother had poured that day. For the more-than-causual race fan visiting the racetrack with family makes the entire atmosphere different


So as the sun sets for the final time on the historic Hollywood Park, I have found myself reflecting upon the significance of this track as it pertains to my love of racing. Many friends on social media have been discussing their favorite memories, races, or horses throughout Hollywood Park’s esteemed history. I have only been there once, and I cannot remember a single horse or race that I watched, but I do remember the anticipation as the horses went to post. I do remember the exacta that we hit when my grandfather said he added $1 dollar to his bet for me. I do remember hearing my mom cheering in ways I had never heard at Dodger games. It was the perfect introduction to the sport of kings.


My wife recently gave birth to our two twin boys, and as I was sitting in the hospital room this past Saturday afternoon, I had some down time of my own. So while holding my sleeping son Andrew, I opened my laptop, fired up my sling box, and turned to TVG. It was 15 minutes to post on the Native Diver Handicap. I was super excited that this would be Andrew’s first exposure to racing, and even though he will never remember it, I will. Blueskiesnrainbows was my choice for this race in my handicapping competition, so I was curious to see how he would do.


Before the start of the race, I was sure to turn my 3-day-old sleeping child toward the computer screen as if I was expecting it to elicit some type of response. When Blueskiesnrainbows won the race in wire-to-wire fashion, I raised my son’s tiny arms in the air so he could celebrate with me. My wife was shaking her head at me with a smile on her face, most certainly thinking how ridiculous I looked. It then dawned on me that my son’s first exposure to horse racing may not have been at Hollywood Park, but it still used the track’s classic backdrop as the setting. This moment instantly became my favorite memory of the track.


It is sad to think I will not be able to start a multi-generation tradition by taking them to Hollywood Park, but I am already beyond excited to share that first live racing experience with them, wherever that will be. The specific track is only one part of the equation. Other traditions, such as the anticipation of the race, grandparents hitting their exactas with help of a beginner’s luck, or dad’s embarrassing screaming and cheering will always be there. I can only hope that one day, my boys look back at this moment with as much joy as the first day at Hollywood Park was for me. 


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Older Comments about Memories of Hollywood Park...

Cocoa. I am sorry to say it about Suffolk Downs, but it is clear from their own comments no casino, no track.
Add to that list Emerald Downs, Fort Erie and a few others
Just because everyone is thinking it, Buckpasser, no reason to say it.
Well clearly Calder is the next one down and I doubt Suffolk Downs and Aqueduct will be far behind.
If I Get the money I will reopen Hollywood Park!
Hollywood USED to have an enitre weeks pagenat the week before the Gold Cup: special events along with the Goose Girl, special contests, seminars you name it. Once took a friend on the Wednesday before the race and he wondered why there were MORE horses in the then, trackside paddock, than there were entered in the race. I explained that they were most likely schoolers preparing to get usee to crowd noise. Right about the time I told him that (and this was when I was a big grandstander still wet behind my ears) old Harry Henson roared from the PA. Your attention is now directed to the paddock where the stakes star Ack Ack is preparing for his entry in the GOld Cup on Saturday." Never did see another t-bred who had such a chest! Just like a quarter horse.
Precisionist was one of the last TRULY adaptable ones since good old Forego and Ack Ack set the standards before him....I spoke with Mr. Hooper (TALL fellow) before this last run with good luck grettings even though I was aware that 10 furlongs was too long for him
My first track...lots of memories, including Vigors, Cigar, Landaluce, John Henry, Princess Rooney, Zenyatta, Real Quiet, the list goes on and on...inaugural BC Races, Pincay's and McCarron's last bow...etc. You will be missed.
I have seen a lot of races at Hollywood Park and many great horses, my favorite was probably Precisionist, but the greatest moments were when Zenyatta ran there her last year. The excitement in the crowd and the relief and joy when she would come back to win after it looked like this would be the time she would not get there was pretty amazing. Mike Smith would bring her back and stop in front of the grandstand then move down and stop in front of the clubhouse so all of the fans could cheer for the great mare. The chance to see a great horse in person is the reason I love horse racing and I am lucky to have seen some great ones at Hollywood Park.
Last time I was home at my sisters, from watching the tube one would NEVER know a track was running..Really poor newspaper coverage as well
  • illhaveanothertriplecrown · Sad to see it go. It was home turf to my favorite all time runner and it seemed to have a mystique about it that some parks dont have. Hope the fools in MA will see what can happen to a historic park so easily and grant the casino to Mohegan @ suffolk · 1428 days ago
I've been to over 40 different tracks across North America, but HOLLYWOOD PARK escaped me (being from East Coast never being in So Cal during a HP live meet). So there is one item on my Bucket List that will never get crossed off. Conrats and GL on the twin boys! ;)
Ack Ack winning the Gold Cup and the inaugural Breeder's Cup
Not much anybody can do about it...Sad...for us who love the sport in So.Cal.
Again congrats on the twins, Matt. I'm sure they will hear plenty about Hollywood Park from their Dad in years to come.

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Meet Matt Scott 

My horseracing journey began when I was 16 years old and my mom took me to Hollywood Park. Although I did not fully appreciate it at the time, the experience stuck with me forever. 10 years later, during one of my many international business trips to Hong Kong, I visited Sha Tin racetrack to watch the races. This is where my true passion began. 


Holding a masters degree in mechanical engineering, the puzzle of handicapping intrigued me. I have made a career of making decisions based on trends, patterns, and formulas, which is why I think I was initially drawn to the sport. However, I have truly learned to appreciate the horses and how magnificent they are as athletes. 


I currently live in San Jose, CA, and when not following racing, I like to spend time with my wife, mountain bike, and design high-speed bicycles that I build and race For reference, 55,000 furlongs is the distance from Hong Kong to my home in San Jose. Also, I have 1-year-old dachshund (aka wiener dog) that I am training to race in the annual Wiener Nationals held at Golden Gate Fields.   


The purpose of this blog is to help give people the viewpoint of a fan that is newer to the sport and eager to learn. I like to respectfully speak my mind, and often the ideas come out of left field, which could give a fresh perspective on a sport rich with tradition and history. hope to represent the many future fans that I wish to follow my footsteps into the Sport of Kings. 

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