Santa Anita History

When colorful early Californian E.J. "Lucky" Baldwin built a racetrack on his vast Santa Anita Rancho in the San Gabriel Valley just outside of Los Angeles in 1907, little could he have imagined its legacy. The story of Baldwin's Santa Anita racetrack and its modern-day successor, Santa Anita Park, is one of the world's premier Thoroughbred racecourses, which celebrated its 75th anniversary year in 2009-2010.

San Francisco dentist Dr. Charles H. Strub and movie mogul Hal Roach led the group who bankrolled building Santa Anita Park in 1934, a risky venture in the midst of the Great Depression. But from the start it was a success and a showcase for many of the finest Thoroughbreds, most esteemed owners, and greatest horsemen and jockeys in the land.

From Azucar to Zenyatta, equine stars have entranced fans with thrilling performances--Seabiscuit winning the Santa Anita Handicap, Affirmed using a Santa Anita Derby victory to catapult him to a Triple Crown sweep, John Henry taking two Big 'Caps, to name a few.

Johnny Longden's retirement on a winner, Bill Shoemaker's Legend's Last Ride, and Laffit Pincay Jr.'s seven wins in a day are just a few of the highlights of the jockeys at Santa Anita.

Additionally, accomplishments of such trainers as Charlie Whittingham, Bobby Frankel, D. Wayne Lukas, Bob Baffert, and Richard Mandella, and the contributions of a glittering roster of owners, including Calumet Farm, Charles S. Howard, Rex Ellsworth, Golden Eagle Farm, Bob and Beverly Lewis, and Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Moss, have helped to make Santa Anita The Great Race Place.

By Jane Goldstein