ARCADIA, Calif. (March 9, 2017)–Santa Anita’s first-ever electronic starting gate, which housed the legendary Seabiscuit prior to his career-capping victory in the 1940 Santa Anita Handicap, has been completely refurbished and will be on display for fans to admire in the track’s East Paddock Gardens this Saturday, Santa Anita Handicap Day, at Santa Anita.
De-commissioned for decades, the 15 ton gate had been relegated to Santa Anita’s own “battleship row,” according to assistant starter John Lopez, who headed the renovation project.
“I had been looking at that gate since I was a little kid and I just decided this was something that needed to be done,” said Lopez, 59, who began working as an assistant starter in 1977. “It was just wasting away and I said, ‘You know what, I can do this.’ It’s like putting a model airplane or car back together.”
With Lopez heading the project that began this past May, he was assisted by Santa Anita’s Carpenter and Paint Shops, as well as the track’s Director of Graphics, Candice Coder Chew.
“The carpenters built the sign, the painters stripped everything down and brought it back to life and Candie was able to provide the numbers on top of the gate,” said Lopez. “I just put everything back together…It’s nice to see the ‘Old Lady’ come back to life again.”
The vintage starting gate, which was originally manufactured on-site prior to the 1939/40 meeting, provides a link to a legendary past that can be revisited by all on Santa Anita Handicap Day, this Saturday, at The Great Race Place.
First post time on Big ‘Cap Day, this Saturday, is at 12 noon. Admission gates open at 10 a.m.