And they're off! (Horsing around at Santa Anita)Posted by vp19 on 2010.12.26 at 01:19
Current mood: nostalgic
Nearing their first wedding anniversary, Carole Lombard and Clark Gable enjoy a day at the track on March 2, 1940. Here's how the Associated Press caption that day explained it:
"LOS ANGELES, March 2 -- CHEERING HOME THE WINNER -- Clark Gable and his wife, Carole Lombard, were among hundreds of film folk who watched Seabiscuit establish himself as the all-time high money winner in turf history by capturing the $100,000 added Santa Anita Handicap, world's richest horse race, today."
Tens of thousands of everyday southern Californians joined the Hollywood high rollers in watching West Coast favorite Seabiscuit continue his dominance of the sport.
Carole and Clark were no stranger to racetracks, regularly playing the horses even during their previous marriages. In fact, here's a photo from Santa Anita in 1940 (don't know whether it was taken on the same date as the Gable-Lombard picture) showing Lombard's ex, William Powell, and his new wife, Diana Lewis:
Another Santa Anita habitue was Janet Gaynor:
Why are we focusing on Santa Anita? Because today, the famed thoroughbred track in Arcadia, Calif., opens its gates, 76 years and a day after it began hosting races. (It went dark for two seasons during World War II.) It's a southern California landmark, both for the great races -- and horses -- that it's hosted, and for its marvelous aesthetics that makes it among the jewels of the sport:
It should come as no surprise that a number of films and television series have been shot at Santa Anita, including the Marx Brothers' "A Day At The Races," Bob Hope's "The Lemon Drop Kid" and "A Star Is Born" (not the Gaynor version, but Judy Garland's). More recently, Santa Anita has been regularly used in the HBO series "Luck," starring Dustin Hoffman.
To honor its film and TV heritage, Santa Anita is giving away a commemorative 2011 wall calendar with images from these productions with paid admission today (it's $5 -- and with luck, you might make it up at the parimutuel window). Even if you don't wager, it's a fun place to visit, with the San Gabriel Mountains serving as a dramatic backdrop.
The gates open at 10 a.m. (Pacific), with the initial race at noon; if you live in the Los Angeles area, it's worth a trip. For more about today's promotion, including a home video of a visit someone made last February (the track has a wall of pictures showing its ties to classic Hollywood), go to http://dearoldhollywood.blogspot.com/20
Good luck -- and cash 'em, don't trash 'em.
Oh, and to get you in the mood for a day at the races, here's the famed "Fugue For Tinhorns" from the 1955 film "Guys And Dolls." I got the horse right here...