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Final stretch for 75-year-old Hollywood Park horse-racing track

by AirTalk

Groomer Byron Vasquez of Cerin Racing Stables washes a racehorse after a run on Friday morning at Hollywood Park Race Track. Each season, the team moves their staffers and horses to a different track. Cerin Stables just transported their 35 racehorses from Santa Anita. Maya Sugarman/KPCC

After 75 years of horse racing, Hollywood Park will have its last run on December 22 of this year. Track President Jack Liebau has told the California Horse Racing Board that Hollywood Park is not requesting 2014 racing dates and has notified current employees of the track’s closing.

Because of dropping profits, the land is going to be used for various new developments such as residential housing units, a park, a movie theater, offices and a hotel, according to the Associated Press.

"It had a neat history with the city's history and that's something that can't be replaced anywhere," said Steve Andersen, Southern California Correspondent for Daily Racing Form. "It's had a great role in horse racing as a vital venue in the spring and summer of each year...It really served well the people who lived on the Westside of town whether you were coming from Santa Monica or down to Torrance or Long Beach, so it was your local track for racing."

Hollywood Park opened in 1938 and once hosted Seabiscuit and the first Breeders' Cup in 1984. However, due to dwindling attendance at races, the rising cost of keeping horses and internet betting, the track has not been able to sustain itself. And it’s not alone—It’s the second horse racing track to close since 2008.

"I'm really surprised that it has gone all the way through to 2013," said Andersen. "In 2005, if you'd have said, 'OK lets have an answer how long will it go?' I would have said 2010. Of course that was before the recession hit, which made real estate and commercial and residential development almost impossible. Now they think they can develop this property in the next 12 months."

Can horse racing survive in California? What happened to the crowds that it once drew? What will happen to the more than 1,000 horses that the track houses?

Guest:

Steve Andersen, Southern California Correspondent, Daily Racing Form

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