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The Hollywood Turf Club was formed under the chairmanship of Jack L. Warner (of the Warner Brothers film corporation). The 600 original shareholders included many stars, directors and producers of the film world, such as Al Jolson and Raoul Walsh (two of the original directors of the board); Joan Blondell; Ronald Colman; Walt Disney; Bing Crosby; Sam Goldwyn; Darryl Zanuck; George Jessel; Ralph Bellamy; Hal Wallis; Anatole Litvak; Hunt Stromberg; Wallace Beery; Irene Dunne, and the late Mervyn LeRoy (director of Hollywood Park from 1941 until his death in 1986).

Following is a list of historic and important events which took place at Hollywood Park since its inception in 1938:

The legendary Seabiscuit was victorious in 1938’s inaugural running of the Hollywood Gold Cup, the track’s signature race which would be won 11 times by Thoroughbreds distinguished as Horse of the Year: 1938, Seabiscuit; 1940, Challedon; 1951, Citation; 1956, Swaps; 1957, Round Table; 1971, Ack Ack; 1979, Affirmed; 1987, Ferdinand; 1990, Criminal Type; 1995, Cigar; 1998, Skip Away. 

During World War II, Racing was suspended at the track. Hollywood Park was used as a storage facility from 1942-44 in association with the war effort, opening only for a brief War Charities meeting in November, 1944. 

Citation became racing’s first million-dollar earner by winning the 1951 Hollywood Gold Cup under Steve Brooks while making his final start. 

Harbor View Farm’s Affirmed became racing’s first $2-million winner with a victory in 1979 Hollywood Gold Cup under jockey Laffit Pincay Jr. 

Dotsam Stable’s seven-time Eclipse Award winner John Henry became the first horse to surpass $4 million in career earnings with a win in the 1983 Hollywood Turf Cup under jockey Chris McCarron. 

With a purse of $1,049,725, the 1983 Hollywood Futurity was not only the first million-dollar race for Thoroughbred 2-year-olds, it was the richest race staged for Thoroughbreds at the time. Sandy Hawley rode Gary Jones trainee Fali Time to victory for owners James L. Mamakos and Dr. Marc Stubrin. 

Before a crowd of 64,625 and an estimated 50 million viewers, Hollywood Park was host to the inaugural Breeders’ Cup on Nov. 7, 1984, handling a then-record $11,466,941. 

R.D. Hubbard gained control of Hollywood Park in February, 1991, following a lengthy proxy battle. Phase One of a massive facelift to restore the track’s “Lakes and Flowers” image began the next day. During his first meeting as Chairman of the Board and CEO, attendance increased 11.3% and handle rose 7.3%. 

The $20-million Hollywood Park-Casino was opened on Friday, July 1, 1994. Previously known as the Pavilion, the state-of-the-art card club/casino features California games and poker. It became an inter-track hit with simulcasts from within the State, throughout the U.S., and from Hong Kong. It is operated by Pinnacle Entertainment.

Churchill Downs Incorporated closed a $140-million transaction to acquire Hollywood Park on Sept. 10, 1999. The deal included the Hollywood Park-Casino, which was leased back to Hollywood Park Inc. (now Pinnacle Entertainment Inc.) for 10 years at an annual rate of $3 million, with one 10-year renewal option. 

The sale of Hollywood Park by Churchill Downs Inc. for $260 million to Bay Meadows Land Company was announced on July 6, 2005, sandwiched between dominating performances by Japanese filly Cesario in the American Oaks and by California-bred Lava Man in the 66th running of the Hollywood Gold Cup. Cesario, the first Japanese-bred to win a Grade I race in North America, cruised to a four-length victory in stakes record time under jockey Yuichi Fukunaga, while Lava Man won the Gold Cup by a record 8 3/4 lengths with Patrick Valenzuela up. The sale of Hollywood Park was completed Sept. 23 with F. Jack Liebau being named president of the Hollywood Park Racing Association. 

Cushion Track was installed following the 2006 Spring/Summer Meet, opening for training on Sept. 13, 2006. Purchased from Equestrian Surfaces of Burnley, England, and installed at a cost of more than $8 million, Cushion Track consists of synthetic fibers, elastic fiber and granulated rubber — all coated with a specially formulated blend of wax and mixed with silica. 

The Hollywood Park Racing Association and Betfair US, the Los Angeles based subsidiary of Betfair Group that also owns Television Games Network, completed a historic agreement March 13, 2012 intended to transform the customer experience for fans at the venue as well as online and on television. Under terms of the five year deal, Hollywood Park was renamed “Betfair Hollywood Park’’ in what is the first naming rights agreement for a horse racing venue in the United States.

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