With a new year comes many beginnings, but one chapter in Los Angeles history will end this month with the closing of the historic Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif. It may be difficult to understand if you're not a native Angeleno, but the loss of the storied racetrack is the end of an era here in Los Angeles not to mention the golden age of Tinseltown.
The 75-year-old track was founded in 1938 by studio chief Jack Warner with founding shareholders like Walt Disney, Sam Goldwyn and actor Bing Crosby on board. One of the ideas behind the track was to make it a playground for the biggest stars and tycoons in the motion picture business. Names like Harold Lloyd, George Burns, Bob Hope, The Marx Brothers and Barbara Stanwyck were in attendance at the opening of the track.
I started visiting Hollywood Park with my father when I was a young girl in the mid 1950s. We'd go to the Turf Club and sit in the Turf Terrace that had an incredible view of the finish line. I may have very well been the only young lady in Los Angeles who could embroider, curtsey, set a French table service and read the racing form. My father was a racing fan and he taught me the art of picking a horse. He placed my bets for me but I always took great pride in picking my own horses. It was a fun little father daughter tradition that we shared for years.
Later, when I was married to Aaron, I bought him a racehorse and we named it "TV Aaron." I thought getting out to the barn would be a nice diversion for Aaron who was always working. We ended up with 16 racehorses including one we shared with Cary Grant and his wife Barbara. I designed the racing silks for all of our jockeys and quickly learned that horse racing was more than just a hobby, it was a business. With Aaron already running the busiest television production company in town, I found myself the COO of our horse racing division. Needless to say, managing the different trainers, jockeys and horses was very overwhelming. So not long after, I decided the Spellings would bow out of the horse racing world altogether.
Hollywood Park will be open until the end of the month then finally closed after an auction of memorabilia and artwork. I think I may take one more trip there to wander up to the Turf Terrace and look out at 2014 with the same excitement I felt at the beginning of all those horse races.
Happy New Year.
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