Santa Anita Park in Arcadia welcomes back fans Friday with new safety measures

ARCADIA, Calif. (KABC) -- Santa Anita Park in Arcadia reopened to the public Friday, a little more than a year after closing due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Santa Anita's opening comes one day before the 84th running of the Runhappy Santa Anita Derby, one of the highlights of the track's annual calendar.

Attendance will be limited to 20% in accordance with local health orders, and fans must purchase tickets in advance, which will include an assigned seat. Tickets must be purchased in "pods" of two, four or six seats.

No individual tickets are being sold. However, the track will offer "bring your own seat" admission on the infield, with tickets available in quantities from one to six. For those tickets, attendees can bring their own lawn chairs, food and beverages -- but no alcohol. All tickets must be purchased in advance, with no walk-up purchase permitted.

The track closed to the public last March 27, but like other California racetracks it has continued to hold races without fans in attendance.

"Racing is always fun. You connect with the horse and to me, it's all about the experience that I get, but there's nothing like racing in front of fans. We love their energy, we love the excitement of it," said retired jockey Aaron Gryder. "We come out here and we love to see people that enjoy this sport and can see these beautiful horses run."

Meanwhile, the Los Alamitos Race Course will also reopen for live nighttime racing. Fans can get reservations at the Cypress track by calling 714-820-2681.

City News Service contributed to this report.
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