Framework

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Workers, including Frederick Nelson, right, who has watered the grass at Hollywood Park for the last 12 years, watch the last race on Sunday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christina House / For The Times

A race fan takes one last look on the final day of racing at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Hollywood Park Starter Gary Brinson motions to the crowd as the horses enter the gate for the final race Sunday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Christina House / For The Times

Jockey Corey Nakatani, aboard Woodman Luck, smiles toward the crowd while winning the last race on the last day of racing at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Fans look at an empty track 30 minutes after the last race on the last day of horse racing at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Jockey Martin Pedroza hugs legendary fellow jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. on the last day of racing at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Bugler Jay Cohen plays for the last time on the last day of racing at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Jockey Mario Guiterrez waits to load into the gate in the last race on the last day of racing at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Jockey Rafael Bejarano signs autographs for fans during the last day of racing at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Justin Weine, 14, cheers for the horse his relative wagered on for him during the last day of racing at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Legendary jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. takes a picture with a fan during the last day of racing at Hollywood Park on Sunday.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

A horse runs the training track at the back side of Hollywood Park in the early morning.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Groomers prepare racehorses for a bath after early-morning workouts at Hollywood Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

A horse is exercised near the barn area of Hollywood Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Cats share space with horses at the Jack Van Berg barn at Hollywood Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Trainer Jack Van Berg, who has been training at Hollywood Park for 41 years, waits patiently for the early-morning workouts at Hollywood Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

A horse returns after finishing a race at Hollywood Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Felipe Martinez prays at his locker before his mount aboard Awesome T at Hollywood Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Horses break from the gate in an allowance race at Hollywood Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Friends dressed in vintage attire enjoy the races at Hollywood Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Horses break from the gate in the Native Diver Stakes at Hollywood Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

A handicapper enjoys a cigar while watching the races at Hollywood Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

A handicapper studies the program during racing at Hollywood Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Spectators watch televisions that simulcast races from other tracks at Hollywood Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

A man walks down a flight of stairs next to a display of jockey silks at Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

A handicapper studies a program during the races at Hollywood Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Members of the starting gate crew relax near an old goose boat before the next race at Hollywood Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

A lone handicapper makes a wager on a slow day at Hollywood Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Racing fans leave the track at the end of the day at Hollywood Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Horses race by empty grandstands at Hollywood Park in Inglewood.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Trainer Jack Van Berg, who has been training at Hollywood Park for 41 years, relaxes in his office before early-morning workouts at Hollywood Park.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

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The long goodbye for Hollywood Park

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The long goodbye for Hollywood Park

By Bill Dwyre

The Hollywood Park family will soon be homeless.

Richard Warren recalls the heyday when celebrities such as Cary Grant, Lucille Ball and Fred Astaire would linger in the box seats. Warren started working at Hollywood Park in 1948.

With the track’s final day, Dec. 22, looming, he has become, for the thousands who know him, a sort of symbol of past joy and current sadness.

“People stop to talk,” Warren says,  “and none of them — I really mean none of them — still believe they are going to tear this place down for real estate. We’ve all been told that, but nobody seems to believe it.”

But then, he talks about his frequent sighting of “eight or 10 people, walking around, looking at everything, and one of them has a clipboard.” That means, he says, they are taking inventory of the metal and copper that needs to be stripped before the wrecking ball.

It is a Thursday, a couple of hours before post time.

“This is our slowest day,” Warren says, keynoting the obvious. The slowest day used to be Wednesday, but they don’t even race on Wednesdays anymore, so Thursday inherited the label.

There is little to do, leaving much time to take a longing look around and longing looks back.

The track is as always. Sun sparkles off the lakes in the infield and giant airplanes drift overhead en route to LAX.

“We used to have 30,000 people on a Wednesday,” Warren says, “and then we could get it up to around 60,000 on Saturdays. People were everywhere, zipping around, talking, trying to get into these seats. The job’s a lot easier now.”

It takes a little coaxing, but Warren’s personal memory bank opens.

4 Comments

  1. December 20, 2013, 3:59 pm

    With the loss of Hollywood, Inglewood will take it's final death plunge. The only reason people even venture into Inglewood is to go to the track. All you have to do to see the future of this misguided development is look at the destruction of Bay Meadows by the exact same company. Bay Meadows Land Co. does not even have the money to complete that project. Years of vacant non revenue creating vacant property awaits Inglewood. Idiotic! People will not pay $600,000K to be surrounded by a crime infested area. Inglewood has one of the highest murder rates in Los Angeles county. Hollywood Park was safe because they had their own police force. A higher and better use of the land would been keeping the track and developing the surrounding land as a possible sports complex. Inglewood does not need another high density apartment/strip mall development.

    By: hoffmanamps
  2. January 8, 2014, 10:27 am

    Thanks Mr. Warren. I made my first play in 1948, won a 3 horse photo in the last with Silver Eagle. Great memories with great crowds. Seeing Costello, Grant, and so many more. I have the opening day program and still love to read it. I was there when the great Citation and Brooks won the Gold Cup have the picture hanging on the wall. The best racing ever in the 50's and 60's. My albums are filled with news paper clippings from 51' to 57',. Such wonderful names: Rejected, Imbros, Karim, Swaps etc. Memory Lane…..Thanks …The Legend

    By: larry antista
  3. February 14, 2014, 1:04 pm

    You are exactly right in your observation. The locals call Inglewood, "Inglewatts". No one wants to live there. No neighborhoods, restaurants, shopping. These photos made me cry.

    By: nancy
  4. February 14, 2014, 1:06 pm

    Thank you for these wonderful photos and interviews. What a mistake to tear down this beautiful and historic racetrack!

    By: nancy

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