Say Goodbye to Hollywood

 (By Avalyn Hunter)

For Hollywood Park, the long goodbye already has begun. While the venerable plant will keep the doors open for its fall meeting, that's it. Seventy-five years of racing history will come to a close when the lights shut down Dec. 22.

The handwriting has been on the wall for some time, of course. When Bay Meadows—owned and operated by the same company—fell to the developers' bulldozers in 2008, it became clear that Hollywood's days were numbered. In an increasingly crowded part of Southern California where land has long been at a premium, the plant is now more valuable for its acreage than for the revenue it can bring in as an operating track. And so the memories of Citation and Noor, Swaps and Round Table, will fade away beneath housing, office space, and asphalt.

Horsemen will adapt—they always have—and other plants in Southern California already have plans to expand racing dates, training facilities, or both. The California breeding industry is not likely to see much impact either, so long as the total number of racing days available stays reasonably stable. But one hopes Hollywood will not be forgotten entirely. Perhaps the monument marking the remains of Native Diver and commemorating his three consecutive victories in the Hollywood Gold Cup could be moved to the new park that is supposed to be part of the development complex, or else to Santa Anita or Del Mar. And perhaps the remains of Landaluce and Great Communicator could be moved, too, rather than simply being paved over and forgotten.

If Hollywood must pass, at least a little of its history should be preserved, to be seen and remembered.


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My heart is heavy. I live here in Southern California and watching Hollywood Park being plowed under is something I never thought would happen. I had hoped that those of us who love this sport and these grand horses would pull together as a team and save the track. Was I fooled. I shall never forget going to Hollywood Park as a young teenage girl in love with the mighty Seattle Slew and begging my parents to take me to see a real live Triple Crown winner. It was my first time to the track and I can still remember the excitement I felt and trembled with glee as I saw Seattle Slew parade in front of me. Yes I watched him lose that day in the Swaps Stakes but I saw a living Triple Crown winner in person. I watched Alysheba and Ferdinand battle in the Breeders Cup Classic and stared at Declans Moon and Giacomo in the Hollywood Futurity. The remains of the great Native Diver, Landaluce and Great Communicator must be removed and reburied hopefully at Santa Anita as these majestic animals do not deserve to simply be paved over for strip malls and housing. Shame on the Thoroughbred industry of California for allowing the demise of this once great track and further shame if they dare allow those three horses to be forgotten under pavement.

13 May 2013 6:53 PM
Paula Higgins

I totally agree with the above post from Alysheba4ever. Extremely sad to see this happen.

13 May 2013 10:36 PM

Make it hooray for Hollywood,. what

about the Swaps statue w/ Shoe up

and the Gold Cup winners behind it ?

14 May 2013 12:01 AM

Is there any sort of campaign going on to move the remains of the champions to a safe resting place? Another track or perhaps the cemetery at Old Friends as was done for Noor?

I would gladly contribute towards that.

14 May 2013 12:25 AM
Mister Frisky

Spent many a morning there 40 or so years ago watching the workouts.Best adult memory, 1990 Gold Cup,a stretch duel between Sunday Silence and Criminal Type.

14 May 2013 12:31 AM
Shelby's Best Pal

I am very sad too.  I loved standing in the paddock area watching the horses and riders up.  Zenyatta danced there.  I watched Real Quiet, Gentleman, Siphon, and Budroyale to name a few favorites.  Just very sad.

14 May 2013 6:56 AM
Jon Tucson

Even though we knew this was coming I always thought somehow the developers wouldn't win. But cash talks, etc. I am old, so my in person memories revolve around the greatest horse I have ever seen in person. His home was Hollywood Park. The California Comet, the Black Horse, Native Diver. He was so special even the other horses knew it. He loved the camera, and would stop and pose for his fans, during his morning workouts. I used to go to Hollywood Park to watch the workouts, and be up close with the horses. When he set foot on the track you didn't need a saddle cloth with a number, or a program to know he was there. I saw all three of his Gold Cup wins in person. I knew I was watching something very special. History bears me out. You never had to worry about where in the field your horse was, if you picked Native Diver. Harry Henson would just say..."And there they go. Native Diver is going to the front". And that's where he usually stayed! I hope the developers and racing people get together and do something decent with the remains of Native Diver,Landaluce and Great Communicator, and not just callously pave them over and cover them with asphalt. I don't have my hopes set too high.

14 May 2013 8:51 AM

The sad day approaches.  I had hoped that providence would intervene and avert the inevitable.  But, alas, it is not to be.  My uncle, Marty Fallon, trained Hillsdale, who virtually owned Hollywood Park in 1959, beating Round Table and everything else on the West Coast (except the filly Bug Brush).  So many great memories......    

14 May 2013 9:08 AM


After sending an email to HRTV, California Thoroughbred Breeders Association and TVG. I heard back from Martin Panza and this was his response. "Plans have not been finalized yet as to the three horses buried on the grounds. They will be moved to proper locations in the future. They will not be buried under a home or a parking lot".

Kindest regards,

Martin Panza

With that said, I highly recommend interested people to do the same to insure Native Diver, Landaluce and Great Communicator are moved and not end up under a parking lot of an office building. They deserve better.  

14 May 2013 11:19 AM

I was really hoping this day would not come. The Hollywood Park meet, and the Oaktree Meet at Hollywood Park, were two of my favorite seasons of horse racing to watch. For some reason Santa Anita and Del Mar are not the same...

14 May 2013 2:39 PM

Shame, shame, shame on the short-sighted city planners and political (bought and paid-for by developers) office holders that allow this type of irreplaceable history and entertainment to be demolished and lost for all time.  

I grew up looking at the lights at Bay Meadows from across the bay, and enjoyed my earliest days at a race track, right there; it made me sick see this great track close and the memories it held lost to the developers bull dozers. Nothing can justify this sort of corrupt government handling of some of our greatest moments in history in the area. It was too bad nobody ever declared the locations as historical building sites. That surely could have slowed or maybe prevented the lost of theses great race tracks. I don't think anything can replace their significance or experiences they offered to the areas in which they exisited. One of the greatest losses when Bay Meadows closed , was the thrilling quarter horse races they ran at night. It was great fun for everyone. Now we just sit at home in front of our computers at night, wondering why life has become so boring and lacking in human interaction except for the darn posting of texts to so called "friends" that only exist in some "cloud" of data that tracks and defines us in a meaningless world of computer crap.

I guess I was just lucky to have lived and experienced a real world in my life time, and feel sorry for the younger generations of today that live in a plastic device they hold in their hands, as they sit in walled in rooms that are built atop these once great racetracks.

15 May 2013 5:33 PM

The trainers and owners did this to themselves.   They thought that the public was just going to continue to show up to bet on drugged up horses and fixed races.  They thought the public was just going to continue to let them steal our money.   Well guess what trainers and owners, the public is losing interest in this once great sport because of your greed and corruption.   The whole sport is headed in the same direction as Hollywood.   How many other tracks would have already been closed if they did not have casinos propping them up?  

I'm sure there will always be a few tracks open but the sport has been ruined by the people who were supposed to be its guardians.

15 May 2013 6:53 PM
Fred and Joan

How said that this closure is happening! Hollywood Park should have been declared a national historic site thereby giving the owners some incentives to preserve and keep operating it as a race track. As small breeders in Oregon we have had a few of our horses race at Hollywood and we thought we would never get that far! California is going to lose a facility that is irreplaceable!

17 May 2013 1:49 PM

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