From Endurance to Dressage
Racing Into the New Year
We spent yesterday at Santa Anita watching the ponies run. My husband has become an avid racing fan and even does a fair amount of mobile betting. It's the one equestrian activity that I can get him to do eagerly.
Santa Anita Park is just a few minutes south of Pasadena and the Rose Bowl Stadium, nestled beneath the San Gabriel Mountains. My experience with Thoroughbred racing is limited to the tracks I've seen on TV, and this one. I may be biased, but with its art deco architecture, Santa Anita has to be one of the prettiest race tracks. The park was first opened in 1934.
Racing fans are actually looking forward to next weekend's races. California Chrome, 2014 Horse of the Year, will be running in the 1 1/16 miles San Pasqual Stakes at Santa Anita Park. Yesterday, he drew quite a crowd as he put in one last workout running 6 furlongs in 1:10.04. We got to the park just in time to see him run.
After a (less than stellar) lunch trackside at the Turf Terrace where we watched the first two races, we finally made out way to our box seats. Don't get too excited. Box seats are cheap at Santa Anita on regular race days. A box for four costs $60. The view is great, and equally as important, access to the paddocks, food, and betting is super convenient.
When we got to our section, we were stopped by an usher who directed us to see another usher. I hate getting hassled about seats; we're good readers. It's not that hard to follow the signs to your section and box. Instead of showing us our box, the usher quickly apologized for the inconvenience, shoved four drink tickets in our hands, and upgraded us to a box reserved for season ticket holders. It was a gigantic upgrade as it placed us almost directly in line with the finish line. We're not sure what happened, but box seats had sold out for the day, so maybe someone over-sold the seats.
One of the things that makes Santa Anita Park so much fun is that the crowd can get really, really close to the horses in the paddock.
From the paddock, the horses walk down a short path to the Riding Oval and from there they go through the tunnel and out onto the track. Even on a busy day, like the Breeders' Cup, it's easy to follow your horse from naked to running.
There were nine races on Saturday's schedule, and we of course made bets on all of them. My husband is the more aggressive bettor, so he usually comes home with more than he started. Even after paying for lunch and tickets and drinks, he still came home with $200 more than he started with. Me, I keep my bets small, $5 - $6 a race. I only had winning tickets for the last two races, but it's fun just to have a horse to root for.
If you've never been to a horse race, you should go. It's a lot of fun, and it's surprisingly cheap. And if you live anywhere near me, you should definitely check into a trip to Santa Anita Park!
1/3/2016 04:57:18 pm
It is fun, isn't it? It's a long day since it's a two hour drive each day, but we enjoy it. :0)
1/3/2016 05:00:25 pm
Santa Anita would be a bit of a drive for you. You could make it an over-night trip though and go to both weekend days! It takes us just over two hours to make the drive. This weekend's traffic was particularly heavy coming home, so it took at least two and a half hours (maybe more) to get home. It was worth it though.
1/3/2016 08:26:27 pm
I'm so glad that you guys ended up with good seats and had fun. I'm so in love with that track, it really is a beautiful place.
1/4/2016 05:40:25 am
It is a pretty track, but like I said ... maybe they all are (except maybe Albuquerque?). We did have fun, and my husband is already stalking the web site for Breeders' Cup tickets (we went last time it was at Santa Anita).
1/5/2016 06:03:30 pm
California has fabulous mountains, and while I am used to them, I still appreciate them. Sitting in the grandstands at Santa Anita IS a real treat. No matter how many times I've seen that view, I never grow tired of it.
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About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
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Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
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