(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.