Must stop at Santa Anita is a winner in my Derby

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Those of you who read my column on a weekly basis already know I am a professional sports bettor and handicapper. You also know I love to play poker and, of course, I love to eat. My other passion is horse racing and not just from the betting aspect of it.

Since 1986 I have owned, bred and raced horses back in Pennsylvania. To this day I still do. One of the things on my bucket list once I moved from PA was to go to Santa Anita and Del Mar. Well I can cross Santa Anita off my list.

If you haven’t been to Santa Anita it is a must for any racing fan. While staying in Arcadia my wife Lori and I went to dinner at The Derby Steakhouse. This was an absolute great place for dining, cocktails and just to see all the horse racing memorabilia. This is a food article and I will get to that in a moment but if you want to take a nice road trip Arcadia, California is only a 3½ hour drive from Las Vegas. I highly recommend going to The Derby restaurant after a day at the races.

What really makes this place cool besides the great food is the history it comes with. The restaurant originally opened in 1922 under the name Proctor Tavern. In 1931 the restaurant moved to its current location at 233 E. Huntington Drive in Arcadia. In 1938 Jockey George Woolf became co-owner in the restaurant.

Woolf, who got the mount on Seabiscuit when regular jockey Red Pollard was injured, won the historic match race over Triple Crown champ War Admiral. It was really cool walking throughout the restaurant and looking at all of the bookcases containing racing memorabilia both past and present.

On to the food. This place is your classic old school steak house with big red leather booths and waiters and waitresses dressed in formal black and white attire to attend to your every need. I started with a French Onion Soup and it was perfect. For our entrées the wife went with The Derby’s signature steak, the bacon wrapped filet. She absolutely loved it.

The filet was very tender and the bacon flavor provided that extra taste. Let’s face it, bacon makes everything better. For me I went with the Bone In Ribeye. To me, this is the most flavorful steak and you can never go wrong with that choice. My steak was grilled to perfection with great grill marks, extremely juicy and tender.

Our waitress Barbara was one of the coolest servers I have ever had, like having your grandma wait on you plus being a comedian. She took care of our every need with great service and had us laughing the entire meal. The table across from us was a large party celebrating a birthday and she made them Baked Alaska for dessert.

When she came to take our dessert order and found out this was our first time there and we drove in from Vegas, she made us Baked Alaska as well. It was quite a tableside show during the preparation and made for a very enjoyable evening.

The Derby was more than just a great place to eat. It was a great dining experience and a perfect way to end the trip. My highest recommendation at 3.75 Forks!

Marco D’Angelo is the senior handicapper at Pregame.com. He co-hosts FIRST PREVIEW every Thursday night at 11 pm on ESPN 1100 AM/98.9 FM. Follow him on twitter: @MarcoInVegas. Contact him at [email protected].

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