Jon and I were invited by Santa Anita Park to experience a day at the races. We were given comped items in exchange for sharing with you. Opinions are ours alone.
Time for another Date Day! This one coincided with our 5 year anniversary, and what better way to spend it than with a new experience! Santa Anita Park is located in Arcadia, CA and started as a small race track, but became more of what we see today, several years later. Much of the area by the Club House was recently renovated and offers an updated, modern look to some of the original architecture & design that is seen in other areas of the park. It’s impressive. But let’s get down to why we were there.
Jose is one of the Brand Ambassador’s from America’s Best Racing and welcomed us and showed us to the Club House box seats that had a great view of the track (as you can see in the photo above). Each box had a tv that offered updates on the standings of horses as well as display the current race when that was going on. I had no idea what to expect. As I mentioned, I had never been to a race track. Jon has been before, but he was just placing bets on whatever sounded good. We learned a lot from Jose and started betting smarter as the day went on!
Inside Club House bar with mixed cocktails, and tv screens to catch the races
Food choices in the new Club House section. There is also several locations that served a variety of beer & wine
My lunch choice: Pick 3. Offers Asian inspired noodles, as well as 2 more traditional Italian inspired pasta dishes. Don’t worry, I didn’t have anywhere near that amount of chili on my noodles! Jon chose a carved sandwich from Grade One.
Each race, as I learned, is not a one-time around the track deal. There are different lengths which result in different starting points around the track. This one race was a true traditional mile and the tractor pulls the starting gate into position on the grass. As the horses & jockeys race around, they turn into the dirt section to end the race. Santa Anita is also the only race track in the nation to have a right hand turn. The horses & jockeys start way back in the hillside, come down towards the track, then turn right to enter on and continue with the traditional left turns. And true story, it took Jon about 5 minutes to get my eyeballs to see back where they were starting. It was so far away. I was grateful for the tv in our box so I can see the horses close up the whole time!
Preparing for the one mile race
One thing I learned was how great Santa Anita Park is for families!! Jose told us we could bring the kids, but we wanted a date day. Outside the park there are stalls where the horses are before races, and where they are dressed in their numbers for the race. The Jockeys also prepare and dress and mount the horses as well. Once done, they come out from the stalls, enter this mini “track” to walk around and families can view the horses. We were welcomed into the center part, where we grabbed this photo.
Can you tell how lean this horse is? So muscular as well. Truly an awesome sight to see. The Jockeys we saw were also so trim. We learned there is an overall weight they must remain under. There are some taller jockeys but that makes it more difficult to remain under the limit. Jose’s wife was raised around horses. Her father is a Jockey (photo later) and is around the typical height of low 5’s. Her brother is several inches taller, and also a Jockey. She said he is so thin (but muscular) to be able to ride.
Horses are then walked in this “tunnel” to get to the starting point of the track. Here is a horse that can be seen by families and also available to pet. They do not currently race.
View at the general admission area. Here you can watch the race end and is located by the underground access tunnel to the family area on the center of the track.
After a few races, Jose showed us the big book of racing stats for the day. The one Jon is the simpler version. With the one I’m holding, it details out several of the last races and stats for the horses as well as Jockeys. We learned most Jockeys only know who they will ride about a week ahead of time. Horses come from all over and Jockeys can also travel. By learning more about how to use the stats, we did a better job at winning! Although there’s always a few surprises. Like when the last place horse (#5 – and also our pic to “show”) went all the way from dead last to first place! It knocked out our other choice (#9) from 1st to second.
So how did we end up? These four tickets were winners! But don’t think I’ll quit my day job yet. It’s a lot harder than we thought but it’s better than nothing!
While we had a great time, just the two of us, we’re very excited to return when Santa Anita reopens and meet up with our friends and their family. All children 17 and under are free to enter with adults, since they cannot gamble. With low costs to enter for adults, take advantage of the center area of the track. There are inflatable slides, bounce house, pony rides, and park-like play equipment. There’s plenty of grass space to bring your own chairs, blankets, etc. There’s concession stands, ability to bet on races, and you can walk back to the main grand stand to watch the races.
So for an inexpensive, fun family weekend idea, add Santa Anita Park to your list of things to see!