Goodbye, Hollywood Park, last meet coming November

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Rich in tradition!

As Billy Joel sang back in 1977 “Say goodbye to Hollywood, say goodbye, my baby.” Hollywood – so rich in tradition with so many great horses and races – say goodbye, my baby.

I was amazed the first time I set foot at Hollywood Park back in 1979. As a little horse bettor from little Waterford Park, West Virginia, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. Now, with the last meet coming in November, we will be saying goodbye to some very rich tradition. We, not Billy Joel, say goodbye to Hollywood.

In a very heated meeting in Sacramento, California, with some bad language being shouted out by CHRB chairman David Israel, who should have his mouth washed out with soap, the new dates were, as they say, tentatively set. Santa Anita will be running a huge meet from Dec. 26 to July 6 and Del Mar will get to run a five-week fall meet from Nov. 5 to Dec. 7 in 2014.

The Del Mar meet looks enticing but it will create some big problems for the horsemen and others making the trip to Del Mar as to where they will stay. Most of the folks who leave and rent out for the summer meet will be back in town, not to mention the expense of moving all the horses and personnel down there for a five-week meet.

The main concerns will be the stabling of the horses that were stabled year around at Hollywood, and how the Santa Anita turf course will hold up with such a long meet. They are talking about sending horses to Golden Gate for some turf races, just another big expense.

With Del Mar getting November dates they will be looking for the Breeders’ Cup in the near future and that would be a nice cause for the little five-hour road trip. You can usually find a room in beautiful Carlsbad, which is just a short ride to the track barring the usual traffic jams, but the ocean and sea air are worth it as we say goodbye to a rich tradition. Say goodbye to Hollywood!

As I sit here at my desk in the beautiful offices at GamingToday on West Post Road on this absolutely beautiful Memorial Day my mind strays to some rich tradition I had growing up as a kid back in Steubenville, Ohio.

On Memorial Day, my grandfather Frank Lamantia would pack up his 1948 Dodge and we would all load in early in the morning, head out to the cemetery and pay our respects to the fallen. We visited our family members who passed away as my grandmother would make sure all the grave sites were properly taken care of.

We would then head home and have a cookout in the backyard. A cookout back in the 50’s consisted of a little grill with hotdogs and buns. My grandfather would sneak to his truck and take a few sips out of the bottle he had hidden under the seat. If my grandmother “bangles” would find out he would pay dearly.

After the dogs were cooked – and I mean cooked with blackened skin outside – we would sit back and eat at least four each as we listened to the Pirates game on our trusty transistor radio. No cell phones or computers to bother us, just sit back relax and root the “buccos” in.

My father always had a little five buck parlay stuck in his pocket as he closely listened to the scores. My mother knew when he would win as he would say he was taking a little walk to burn off all the dogs. A little walk for him was three blocks to the cigar store to cash in his ticket.

Great rich traditions, and it is sad they seem to have passed away with all the high tech. It seems people just have no time and especially families have no time to spend with each other.

Just a line of thanks for all our servicemen and woman who fight for our freedoms and have such rich traditions. Thank you from all of us here at GT. Have a beer and a hotdog. Root those “buccos” in!

Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GamingToday’s horse racing and sports handicapper.  Follow Richard on Twitter @SabesBet. Contact Richard at [email protected].

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