12/12/2013 5:32PM

Hollywood Park: Remembering a grand track

Benoit & Associates
Vic Stauffer has been Hollywood Park's track announcer since 2001.

Vic Stauffer
Track announcer since 2001
“My favorite memory would be around Zenyatta. She changed horse racing, I think, or certainly resurrected it for a while. I always thought of her as being part of the Hollywood Park family. Her first two starts were here, and she [made] 8 of [her] 19 [starts] here.

“People will come up to me and say, ‘Your calls of Zenyatta, they were good calls’. I say, ‘They were good calls because all I wanted to do was convey what I was thinking and feeling when I watched her do her thing.’

“I had the privilege and the honor of being able of having a firsthand view.”

[Hollywood Park: What a run it had!]

Tom Ward
Steward since 1987
“The first Breeders’ Cup I worked was here in 1987. Miesque won and for some reason I had my field glasses on her when she hit the top of the stretch. In three strides, she was through a hole. I hadn’t seen anything like that before, especially coming from Northern California.”

Mike Smith
Hall of Fame jockey and regular rider of Zenyatta
“I’ve got several memories. One of the first was in the [1997] Breeders’ Cup, winning the Classic with Skip Away and the Distaff with Ajina in the same year. That hadn’t been done until Gary [Stevens] did it this year.

“Then, of course, there is Zenyatta. Getting on her in the mornings, there was no pressure. It was just her. She’d come out late and she’d dance around there. It was fun to get on her in the mornings. Everyone of her races, when she won, it was more of a relief than joy.

“I remember the first time I came out here and rode, it was a horse called Exclusive Enough for Jack Van Berg. I remember walking into the jockey’s room and seeing [Bill] Shoemaker, [Laffit] Pincay Jr., Eddie D[ellahousaye], Chris [McCarron]. Those guys seemed bigger than life to me.”

Jerry Hollendorfer
Hall of Fame trainer

“I think it’s a shame that a facility like this is going to go away. It’s a good facility to train. The barns are good. It cannot be replaced. I’ve had good luck here at Hollywood – when it was a dirt track and now synthetic. We won the [1989] Hollywood Futurity with King Glorious when it was a $1 million race. It was my first $1 million race.”

John Sadler

“I’ll end up fifth on the all-time list [of wins by trainers]. I’ve always enjoyed racing here. I’ve been here a long time. I feel like a regular. Melair’s season was pretty great. She beat Snow Chief [in the 1986 Silver Screen Handicap]. She won five races here and beat the boys.”

Jay Cohen
Track hornblower since 1988

“When Laffit [Pincay] broke the record, that was an awesome day. Getting to witness Zenyatta was fun. That may be the best horse I’ll ever see.
I hate to sound old, but I miss the days when [former track chairman R.D.] Hubbard was here. It was a party.”

Scotty McClellan
Jockey’s agent for riders such as Chris McCarron, Alex Solis, and Joe Talamo

“I started here and I won my first race here in 1972. I won a lot of great races. I went from a teenager to a 58-year-old man. I had so many good riders.

“McCarron’s retirement, that was a good day. That was a very special occasion.”

Bernie Schiappa
Owner of stakes winners Game On Dude, Ladies Din, and Silic
“It’s sad. It really is sad. I go back when there was harness racing at night. It was when I first started going out there.

“It was exciting to be across from the Forum when the Lakers played there.

“I was lucky to win a couple of Shoemaker [Miles] with Silic and Ladies Din. We had a lot of thrilling finishes. We won a couple of Gold Cups with Game On Dude. It’s sad that it’s going away. I feel sorry for the people that worked there who aren’t going to have a job.”

Don Robbins
President under CEOs Marje Everett and R.D. Hubbard

“I saw a lot of changes. Marje Everett was devoted to the industry. A lot of people criticized her for a lot of reasons, but no one could challenge her devotion. D was an incredibly creative person and an entrepreneur.”

Paul Reddam

“My oldest memory is seeing Spectacular Bid win here. I know it was 1980. There are so many memories. There are two that standout. Winning the [2001] Hollywood Turf Express with Swept Overboard. If you had taken a picture of the horses on the backstretch, you would have gotten 100-1 on the gray horse winning. He was 16 lengths out of it and got up by a nose.

“Winning the [2002] Hollywood Starlet with Elloluv at 30-1 was a shock.

“One of the first dates [with my wife Zillah] was the 1997 Breeders’ Cup.”

Mike Pegram

“I’ve been really lucky here. Real Quiet won the [1998] Hollywood Gold Cup. I won three [Hollywood] Futurities. The thing that really sticks out was [former track chairman R.D.] Hubbard tried to put us in the real world. I wish we would have followed him a little more.”

Bob Baffert
Hall of Fame trainer

“I’ve had a lot of wins here. It’s a shame that it’s going to be gone. There is a lot of history here. I first came here for the [1986]
Quarter Horse meeting and I was in awe of the place.”

Charles McCaul
Clerk of scales

“I started here in 1985 as the steward’s aide. I was assistant clerk of scales and then clerk of scales. I was the steward’s aide in 1987 when the Breeders’ Cup was run here and Ferdinand won. It was exciting to be in that winner’s circle. I was clerk of scales when the Breeders’ Cup was run in 1987.

“I remember the good horses – Affirmed, Zenyatta – I’ll leave a lot out – Flawlessy, Marquetry, Cigar.

“In my first year, when I was steward’s aide, Shoemaker put shaving cream on my hat. I saw it when I went outside. That was Shoe indoctrinating me. After I unsaddled the winner, I saw Shoe smiling. I knew it was him.”

Lynne Veitch More than 1 year ago
Very nice.
Lynne Veitch More than 1 year ago
& I love the picture of Vic Stauffer. He must have so many wonderful memories.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Vic Stauffer should be hired immediately to do the call at Santa Anita.
Kany Levine More than 1 year ago
Please God No.
pathagan More than 1 year ago
Wrona will be first in line to take over when Denman calls it quits.
craig More than 1 year ago
he should at least get the calls at fairplex, los alamitos, and the norcal fair circuit.
IRANIANMULLAH More than 1 year ago
California racing has come to an end. If this track with such history is easily wiped off the map. I just hope that day comes after I'm gone. The city does not have a football team so what did we expect? The land in southern california and the coast area is too valuable, racing may have a better shot near the inland cities such as Sacramento,
craig More than 1 year ago
sacramento? harness racing only.
James Pugliese More than 1 year ago
Truly a sad day for horse racing,I grew up near S.F and visited Hollywood Park several times with my father who has since then passed away. I can feel through both our hearts ,something very special we shared together is gone!
Bob More than 1 year ago
Kind of makes you wonder what's going to happen to Santa Anita and Del Mar? If a California track can't survive without slot revenues and the decision to close a track is based on the underlying value of the land, which was the case with both Hollywood Park and Bay Meadows, then you have to assume that the land where Santa Anita and Del Mar are located is much more valuable than the Hollywood park site.
Chuck Berger More than 1 year ago
Back in 1986 I raced a nice horse at Turf Paradise who won quite a few races for me. We shipped him in to Hollywood Park for one race. He didn't win, but I was proud to have raced him at the track