Santa Anita Derby Diary: California Getaway

Events / Travel

My goodness, it’s fantastic to be back at Santa Anita! This is one of my favorite racetracks in the country: it’s absolutely beautiful, the people here are so nice, and Arcadia, Calif. (where the track is located) is a fantastic town with lots of fun dining and nightlife options.

I arrived last night after a rather dramatic week in New York that included me being burgled on Tuesday. It’s never fun to come home after a day in the office and find your apartment ransacked. Fortunately, I am not exactly Miss Moneybags, so the poor thief didn’t escape with much. Thankfully, the NYPD came really quickly, and it turns out that the captain of my precinct is a big horse racing fan, so at least I made a new friend out of the affair! Unfortunately, it also meant that I spent most of Tuesday night and Wednesday morning trying to coax the fingerprint dusting powder from every surface and wall of my apartment. It … kinda worked. Sorta.

So it was with a huge sense of relief that I boarded my JetBlue flight to L.A. on Wednesday night. There’s nothing wrong with escaping your problems with a trip out of town; and when the destination is the Santa Anita Derby, well that just makes everything better!

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I arrived at about 9 p.m. California time, chucked my stuff into my hotel room and immediately walked over to the Derby, my favorite restaurant here. The place is awesome – it has a ton of horse racing memorabilia, and some of the sport’s brightest stars dine there on a nightly basis. Plus, the waitstaff are super nice and the food is amazing. It’s basically heaven.

Image via The Derby’s Facebook page

After taking down a quick bite to eat, I headed back to my hotel to grab some much-needed sleep and get ready for my first full day of Santa Anita Derby weekend.

I woke up bright and early thanks to some good, old-fashioned jetlag, so I decided that I might as well head over to Clocker’s Corner at the track to watch some horses get some morning exercise while I got my own work done. After all, why would I want to stay cooped up in an anonymous hotel room when the best office view in the world was just down the street?

As I settled in to get the Notebook organized, I was treated to the beautiful sights and sounds of Thoroughbreds training in the morning. I even got to meet Hoppertunity, one of the contenders in the Santa Anita Derby.

His exercise rider had tons of carrots, and he would stretch his neck all the way around to gently take them from her hands.

Hoppertunity is a totally sweet horse, and I think I’m a little bit in love with him. 

After that, it was time for me to settle back down and get the Notebook out. I’d basically drained my computer’s battery at Clocker’s, so I skedaddled up to the press box to finish up. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: the view from up here is possibly one of my favorites in all the world. It’s breathtaking.

After the Notebook was out, I decided to take the opportunity to walk around and just enjoy the racetrack. As I mentioned earlier, Santa Anita truly is a stunning facility, and so much attention is paid to details. The landscaping is perfectly manicured, the grandstand and clubhouse are always clean, and there’s free public wi-fi. No wonder I love it here!

I also saw my good buddy Reggie, the horse that pulls racing officials in a carriage. He’s an awesome horse, and knows how to strike a pose (especially if he thinks there’s a peppermint in it for him!) 

One of my favorite moments of the day was in the fifth race, when I realized there was a horse named Bobby Flay. He ran a very good race, eventually finishing a close second to Mr. Candy Boy. Considering my absolute and undying love of any kind of food (be it processed chocolates or gourmet suppers) it is a sin that I didn’t play those horses in an exacta. However, I couldn’t stop myself from getting punny on the ABR Twitter account:

I’m sorry. It’s been a long week.

After that, I decided to take in the afternoon’s races and enjoy a day at the track, which was a ton of fun and very relaxing after the Great Burglary Drama of 2014. So I went to the third story mezzanine, grabbed a beer, made a few bets and hung out with some friends. It’s really a wonderful way to spend an afternoon, and I can’t recommend it highly enough!

Thank you so much for stopping by, and I’ll be back tomorrow with all of Friday’s action out of the Great Race Place.

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