Santa Anita racetrack sees sunny opening day, high attendance


The start of the 77th winter meet attracted nearly 30,000 people Thursday, that's up 10 percent from last year.

"I'm enjoying it, it's beautiful, the mountains, it's just the fresh air, this is not winter time," said Chanel Macklin of South Los Angeles.

The summer-like weather helped as Southern Californians basked under sunny skies and enjoyed the view of the San Gabriel Mountains nearby.

"I love coming to this course, the scenery - you can't beat it with the mountains in the back, that's why I get enjoyment out of it," said Jared Pasquariello of La Crescenta. "It's 80 degrees, 75 degrees the day after Christmas in Southern California - you gotta love it."

Officials believe the boost in attendance was also due to to the recent closing of Betfair Hollywood Park. The 75-year-old racetrack closed last Sunday. It will be turned into a housing and retail development starting next year.

Horse racing fans will have more chances to win as Santa Anita Park is extending its season by two months. Instead of closing in April, the horses will race through June 29.

"We''ll pick up the Triple Crown race days, and so we'll have live racing during the Kentucky Derby, so fans can come out to Santa Anita, watch the Kentucky Derby, but also bet on live Santa Anita racing, which makes it quite a bit of fun," said Nate Newby, VP of Marketing at Santa Anita Park.

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