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Hollywood Park Hosts Final Race

Published: December 22, 2013 10:59 pm ET

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After 75 years of horse racing, Hollywood Park, the Inglewood, California track that once hosted many of the sport's greatest standardbred horses, ran its final race ever on Sunday evening.

As the horses were loaded into the gate for the last time at the historic track, the crowd broke out in applause. And in fitting dramatic fashion, the winner of the $57,750 Auld Lang Syne, which was run at a distance of 1-1/16 miles on turf, was determined in a photo finish.

Depreciable and jockey Joseph Talamo took the lead in the stretch, but Woodmans Luck and Corey Nakatani came charging home to prevail in 1:41.66.

“Well, I made history. I won the last race and got the last set of days at Hollywood Park," said Nakatani, who received a three-day suspension from the stewards earlier on the card. "Kind of bittersweet. That was really emotional. It’s hard to really say that much. This has always been such a great place to be. After winning a bunch of races here, it’s hard to see it go. It’s pretty sad.”

Hollywood Park’s last winner is trained by Vladimir Cerin and owned by Holly and David Wilson.

"When they were coming down the stretch, all I could think of is how sad that it was over," said Cerin. "I didn’t think he could win from where he was. Nakatani has given us some fantastic rides this meet. I think this is the second photo finish he’s won for us like this.

"It’s almost hard to enjoy the win when you think this is the last race at this racetrack. When I started training here, I think it took me a year to win my first race and to have it end like this just seems surreal.”

The Hollywood Turf Club, which opened its doors on June 10, 1938, was formed under the chairmanship of Warner Brothers film corporation's Jack L. Warner, with 600 original shareholders including many Hollywood stars, directors and producers.

The Track of the Lakes and Flowers has since hosted a cast of legendary equine stars from the worlds of thoroughbred and harness racing including the likes of Affirmed, Albatross, Armbro Flight, Bret Hanover, Cardigan Bay, Citation, Fresh Yankee, Niatross, Rambling Willie, Seabiscuit, and Zenyatta.

Hollywood Park survived a racing hiatus during World War II and a fire which destroyed the grandstand and clubhouse in 1949. The track underwent numerous multi-million expansion and renovation projects and just last year was rebranded Betfair Hollywood Park.

R.D. Hubbard gained control of Hollywood Park in February 1991 beginning a $20-million reconstruction project, which opened July 1994. Hollywood Park was acquired by Churchill Downs Incorporated. in September 1999 and later sold to Bay Meadows Land Company in July 2005.

According to the Hollywood Park Tomorrow redevelopment project's website, Hollywood Park Racetrack and Casino will be transformed into a 238-acre community with a mix of residential, retail and open space under Wilson Meany Sullivan and financial partner Stockbridge Capital Partners.

(With files from Betfair Hollywood Park)


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