Saturday, July 11, 2009


Every year we take Mom to the horses for her birthday. And every year there are less people in the stands, less races on the track. We all kind of collectively determined that this was our 10th year in coming to the races. Naturally we retold our memories of that first year when it was hot, hot, hot and full of people, kids and horses. There was a carnival for the kids and more bbq and bacon wrapped hot dogs then you could shake a stick at. Firework stands flanked every exit from the parking lot. We bought a few boxes on the way out, and rode home most likely a bit pink, smelling of dirt and hay, still clutching racing forms and a couple extra dollars. I couldn't order a beer or bet that year.

What a difference a decade makes. Recently the last legal roadblock to development of the land was removed. Sadly it will only be a matter of time until Hollywood Park shutters her doors and the big machines move in to tear her down and cart her away. I will not be surprised, but I will be haunted. I learned to ride a horse early in life. I love the big, skittish creatures. I love the romance of the track. In second grade I discovered and read the novel Man O'War. I fell in love with a country so obsessed by horses that it spilled over into places like Tijuiana where men could gamble and ladies were rarely seen. Horse fever gripped the nation and gave us something to believe in as the Great Depression washed across every acre and stole fortunes and futures and splintered families.

This year there were so few people, it was quiet. I could have ordered a beer, but without summer's carefree communal attitude, what was the point? And the fireworks? One lone stand with 3 customers, on the 4th of July.

Everything changes.

* Hollywood Park Race Track

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