Part of what was the Rancho Santa Anita, the Santa Anita Park was opened on the Christmas of 1934 in Arcadia and was the first officially established thoroughbred racecourse in the whole of California. Named after Anita Cota, a relative of the original owner, Claudio Lopez, the Santa Anita Park is arguably the most glamorous racecourse in CA, with the flashy building against the background of the San Gabriel Mountains. It has a dirt track that is one mile long and a turf course that is 0.9 miles.
The races, especially after the lifting of the ban on betting, became a favourite of Hollywood stars, some of them even entering their horses in the races. Even during the Depression, business in the racecourse was still booming, with the Santa Anita Handicap raking in more money than any other race in the country.
The Santa Anita Derby is just as much of a favourite, whose winner is also expected to take the Kentucky Derby trophy. The day is packed with a series of 10 races. Held in early March, the Santa Anita Derby is deemed the most important in North America for horses that are older than four years, especially during the winter season. The 1937 film ‘Day at the Races’ by the Marx Brothers was actually shot on Derby Day at Santa Anita.
The Breeder’s Cup has been hosted at the Santa Anita Park eight times, which is a record no other racecourse has attained. The Vox Populi Award at Santa Anita usually goes to the horse that stole the hearts of the public.
Seabiscuit, whose statue immortalizes the likelihood of chance, won the Santa Anita Handicap in 1940. He is a symbol of hope despite the odds. And that spirit is evident throughout California, the hope that dreams can come true and anyone can be a winner.