12/22/2013 11:40PM

Hollywood Park: Nakatani wins track's final race

Benoit & Associates
Woodmans Luck and jockey Corey Nakatani head to the winner’s circle after the last race in the history of Betfair Hollywood Park on Sunday.

INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Jockey Corey Nakatani was greeted by a large and enthusiastic crowd when he rode Woodmans Luck into the winner’s circle after the last race in the history of Betfair Hollywood Park on Sunday evening.

But the veteran rider was not in a festive mood. He barely smiled while Woodmans Luck fidgeted before standing still for the photo.

For Nakatani, winning the last race at the 75-year-old venue was no cause for celebration. He went through the motions over the following 10 minutes while signing autographs, posing for pictures, and conducting interviews with television crews. The smiles were brief, occurring when he saw old friends and acquaintances.

“It’s sad,” he said minutes later in the jockeys’ room. “It’s hard to say. It’s been a great place to be. To see it go, it’s hard.”

Hollywood Park, which in 1984 hosted the first Breeders' Cup, is scheduled to be demolished for commercial and real-estate development in 2014. The racing dates once held by Hollywood Park will be transferred to Del Mar, Los Alamitos, and Santa Anita next year.

All that will remain of Hollywood Park is memories.

Sunday, the track announced a meet-high attendance of 13,283, small in comparison to major stakes days at Del Mar and Santa Anita, but the highest here since 25,837 attended the Oct. 2, 2010 program when Zenyatta extended her unbeaten streak to 19 races with a win in the Lady’s Secret Stakes. The track stopped charging admission in early afternoon, making it difficult to determine actual attendance.

Nakatani won Sunday’s 11th race by a nose on Woodmans Luck, closing from off the pace to catch Depreciable, who led by 1 1/2 lengths with a furlong remaining. Woodmans Luck, who paid $13.60, races for owners David and Holly Wilson and trainer Vladimir Cerin. Together, the owners and trainer won such famous races at Hollywood Park as the 2000 Hollywood Gold Cup with Early Pioneer and the 2004 Shoemaker Mile with Designed for Luck.

On Sunday, the Wilsons arrived early to walk around the grounds and soak in the final day.

“We came early and walked around the downstairs and the backstretch to drink it all in one more time,” David Wilson said in the winner’s circle. “It’s bittersweet to win the last race.”

Wilson, who owns a chain of car dealerships, said he is optimistic that a change in the Southern California racing landscape will lead to growth for the sport.

“Hopefully, this is a wake-up call for all of racing,” he said. “Sometimes, things have to fall apart for things to come together.”

Sunday’s program had a big-day feel. The Turf Club was at capacity and bustling with activity. By midafternoon, the box-seat area was full, and sections of the grandstand unused for years were occupied.

Track President Jack Liebau said the track ran out of programs by 2 p.m. and that concession items were sold out by midafternoon in some locations. “We ran out of everything,” he said.

Lines for bets and concessions were 10 to 15 deep in some places, much longer than on any other recent day.

“There are 100,000 people that have never been here, and they’re using up the tellers,” said Mel Brooks, the famous director and actor.

Brooks, seated with friends in the Turf Club, has been a fixture in the front row of the Turf Club in recent years. He said he will not be as frequent of a guest at Santa Anita.

“He will,” said his friend, Darryl Richard. “Right now, he’s sore. It’s closing, and this is near where he lives.”

Trainer Steve Knapp had his final winner at the track with Tribal Yodeler ($88.80) on Saturday. Knapp, who turned 57 last Wednesday, began running horses at Hollywood Park in the late 1990s but has a history with the track dating back to the 1960s.

“I’ve been coming here since I was 6 or 7,” he said. “I saw J. O. Tobin beat Seattle Slew [in the 1977 Swaps Stakes]. It’s a nice track, and I’ll miss it. I really liked the barn area.”

Liebau said the track finished the 27-day autumn meeting with a gain of “2 or 3” percent in average all-sources handle. He said further business data would be available in the coming days.

Rafael Bejarano led all riders with 37 wins, three more than Joe Talamo. Bejarano had four winners on Sunday’s 11-race program.

Bob Baffert won the trainers’ title with 16 wins, one more than John Sadler.

Mike Matern More than 1 year ago
lived in norcal from 1980-2000 and got to hp quite often--was at the 84 breeders cup-----best memory is in the late 90's running into trainer Jack Saip RIP who I knew from Gino and Carlo bar in San Francisco---he said come I will buy you a drink----who was he hanging with---no other than one of my hero's Mel Stute----never forget that listening to all the great stories----thanks Hollywood Park
Craig Mathews More than 1 year ago
I took a picture of the row of urinals in Tunnel 2 Truly unequaled anywhere. This should be in the Smithonian.......
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Talamo was beating the HAIL out of that horse, Dang!!!. Have not seen a beating like that since Calvin Borel took it to Rachel Alexandra in the Woodward. He really wanted that first place check of a 50k purse. Nope, he wanted to win the last race. He would of road for free.
Scot Morley More than 1 year ago
My Hollywood Park Memories as a kid from the 80's was going to the track with my dad, going to the infield, yes they had an infield I believe from 81 to 85......... Watching Landulcee, win the Lassie stakes in 82' by 20+ lengths, in a 6 furlong race. One of the most dominating performances ever. Watching the first Breeders Cup in 84, seeing Princess Rooney dominate. Seeing Wild AGAIN, Win the first classic at long odds. Going to the Pavilion of the Stars in the Mid 80's. That was suppose to make the place classy I believe. I remember my dad saying wow they are charging $15 bucks to get in to this...Then I moved out of state in 1990, came back in 2003 for a visit, and saw the 8000 people show up for Gold Cup day, mind you that would have been a mid week crowd at Santa Anita in the 80's..... Seeing the track slowly look like a run down building.... The surface was the best according to all trainers I have heard talk about it. It is too bad those hollywood elitist could not of put their money together and bought this place and renovated it.... Having a track right in this central location was great. Having Condos, and this so called glamor mall will be great, I'm sure people will come from Bel Air to go shopping at Bloomies and Neiman Marcus, in INglewood. Good Luck Bay Meadows land project. You guys ruined two historic tracks, the one up in Frisco, has nothing on it yet. I hope no one buys your condos!
Jordan More than 1 year ago
I tell you who was in a more celebratory, Vlado. He was walking around the crowd, talking and giving autographs 30 minutes after the race. Good for him. The Wilsons, Cerin, and Nakatani winning the finale were a good way to see the track off, or least the best we could do given who was in that finale.
Gene Martin More than 1 year ago
I'll tell you who wasn't with Vlado celebrating, his wife...
John Stevelberg More than 1 year ago
When the track announcer uttered the words "that's a wrap" after the final race - the only thing I could think of is "its about time". Everyone wants to say what a shame and words to that effect, but the truth is racing at the facility has been on the decline for over a decade. The most accurate words I can add are R. I. P.
Mike Malaspina More than 1 year ago
Try going to Delaware park and you'll regret mentioning this statement. Losing a track that runs stakes caliber racing is not good
702Raycing More than 1 year ago
It is sad... The only reason it was run down was the people who are tearing it down stopped putting money into it they made NO improvements to the place the just let it go down hill because they knew all along it was a waste of money because they are going to tear it down anyway. I bet when California came up with there STUPID mandate of switching to a synthetic surface they were not happy to have to sped a few million to get it done. They said all along if the can get vegas gaming they would fix the whole joint up because they would be swimming in cash. So u can't use the decline of the facility as the reason it is being or torn down or not sad. I don't blame the owners they see a chance to make a mountain of money and they are going for it. This is the greedy people in racing who allowed the track to fall in the hands of builders and not other horse people. Also in case I hadn't noticed especially on the west coast... There aren't people out there building race tracks right now or in the next 40 years So cal just lost 1 of 4 the exact same thing can happen to Del Mar or Santa Anita and then the entire so cal circuit would have to survive at Los Al ... Hollywood closing is not only sad but it's scary to.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
238 Acres of prime Horse Land in the Middle of Los Angeles, and a tribute to the greatest Thourobreds in History is being put down. The greatest stalls in America and the best place to hold a prime racing card in America. For what price? People are paying 10 times the price of that for a Baseball or Basketball team. Horses and Los Angeles need Hollywood Park. There will never be another place like it in all the world. You could allways see so many famous people there. It was a great meeting place for all lovers of Horses. This is a Political greedy crime here that is not making sense. Most of the new condos around Hollywood Park are in Forclosure. Its land vaule keeps up with inflation so why not keep it for Racing and public enjoyment? It's a Historic site that should not be ruined.
Bellwether4U More than 1 year ago
Ya got that right...ty...
Vince Lentini More than 1 year ago
because the owners are running a business not something for "public enjoyment"
Art Brown More than 1 year ago
Top 5 racetrack in all of America and I left a few benjamins there that I won't be able to come and get again. Sad for all of the racing industry and it didn't have to happen. If they let the slot machines come in it would be open forever but the Indian casinos are in the politicians pockets and that's a loss for us all.
. More than 1 year ago
every time I flew to LA, it was never open, only simulcast was. But I liked the place. Truly a shame. I'm hearing Los Al and Fairplex wants some of the lost business. I can't see it working though, I do not like Fairplex at all and Los Al can't see them going past 4.5f , that's a quarter horse track. Maybe Golden Gate gets better horses and higher purses as a result.
Bruce Eckhoff More than 1 year ago
Los Al is building a 1 mile track I believe.