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Santa Anita Park

Cheryl Ann Quigley /

Located in Arcadia, Santa Anita Park is known for being home to some of the finest thoroughbred racing in the country. For those visiting the park for the first time, here is all you need to know about spending a day at the races.

Arriving at Santa Anita Park
As soon as you arrive at the Santa Anita Race Track, you will immediately notice the sleek Art Deco architecture, reminiscent of the 1930’s. With a backdrop of swaying palm trees, blue skies and the San Gabriel Mountains, this is definitely a scenic spot to be spending the day. You will usually experience quite a mixed crowd at this track, with everyone from first-time visitors to racing veterans to families enjoying a day here, and there are usually plenty of family-friendly activities taking place around the track.

Before and After the Race
There are specific routines that take place before and after each race, and while it is possible to simply follow the crowd, it is always a good idea to learn more about these beforehand. Horses are usually brought into the paddock area, which is just outside the track, about 20 minutes before the race, and this is the best time for spectators to enjoy a close-up view of each of the horses. Once the buglers begin to play the Call to the Post, the horses are ridden onto the track, each accompanied by a non-race horse to help keep them calm. After everyone has taken their positions, the race begins, with excitement levels swelling throughout the park. Once the horses have crossed the finish line, you can then wait to see them leaving the track if you so desire.

Of course, wagering on the races is a huge part of the day, although this is not necessary if you want to just watch the horses. However, if you do want to place a bet, it would be worth reading up beforehand on the different types of wagers available. When it comes to picking a horse, first-timers will usually choose the horse with the name that appeals to them the most, and there is nothing wrong with this, as even the professionals who spend days pouring over the stats often end up getting it wrong. While placing a few bets does up the excitement level of your day quite significantly, there is still plenty of fun to be had without gambling too.

Food and Drink
There are plenty of food and drink options to be found at Santa Anita Park, from fine dining to casual caf├ęs. The Chandelier Room is known for featuring some of the best chefs in LA, while the Turf Terrace is able to provide a view of the track while you eat. For those who are seeking some craft beer and fine wine, Farriers is the place to go, although the Bud Light Lounge also stands out for its views overlooking the Paddock Gardens and the Walking Ring.

Santa Anita Park underwent a major $15 million renovation a few years ago, and this transformed the park into a destination that is truly world-class. With such a beautiful setting combined with the contagious excitement of each and every race, a day at the Santa Anita Race Track is guaranteed to be one that you will remember.

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