Since it was established in 1934, Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California has been regarded as a sacred place by American horse racing fans. Its long 80-year history is decorated with the memorable winnings by legendary racehorses like “Seabiscuit”, whose story was adapted to the Hollywood film in 2003. Santa Anita Park is also known as one of the most competitive racetracks for jockeys in the world. Remarkable jockeys like Laffit Pincay Jr., Gary Stevens and Kent Desormeaux got their starts here.
Santa Anita Park is located in the heart of the majestic San Gabriel mountain range. Many consider Santa Anita “the most beautiful racetrack in the world”. The track consists of two courses. Inside is a turf course (Circuit: 1408 meters) and outside, the main course, is dirt (Circuit: 1609 meters, Straight: 274 meters). Some consider the best part of American horse racing to be racing in the dirt course. Japanese and American dirt courses differ in that American tracks look more like “soil” than “sand”. The give of the dirt is easier on the horses and prevents slipping when it rains. To make the races more interesting, the fences at every corner of the track incline on the inner side. Neck-and-neck races at corners always thrill the audience.
There are two horse race seasons a year in the US: late December to late April and late September to mid-November. The two biggest races at Santa Anita Park, the Santa Anita Handicap (early March: G1) and Santa Anita Derby (early April: G1), are exciting and produce record crowds of enthusiastic fans.
The Santa Anita Handicap has been the biggest and best-known race on west coast since its inception in 1935. It was at this race the ailing “Seabiscuit” rose from the ashes in front of 78,000 screaming spectators to win in 1940. Now the Santa Anita Handicap draws huge interest from race and industry insiders all around the world as the race that proceeds the Dubai World Cup (G1), the world’s highest stake race, which is held in late March.