After year-long closure, Santa Anita reopens for 84th Derby

ARCADIA, Calif. (KABC) -- After being closed for more than year during the pandemic, Santa Anita Park is back open to the public.

Fans got to celebrate Saturday with the 84th annual Santa Anita Derby, held one day after the actual reopening.

The park is now operating with COVID-19 protocols in place, including restrictions on capacity, face mask requirements, socially distanced seating and contactless wagering.

Some fans were sure to show up early and check out the horses before the day's races began at noon.

"We're going to win some big money today," said racing fan Maria McCantz of Paramount. "Yes, we did miss being at Santa Anita."

Under COVID-19 regulations, Santa Anita Park could bring in fans at 20% capacity and tickets had to be purchased in advance.

By race day, the grandstand tickets were sold out.

While the sport continued during the pandemic, for those in the horse racing community, having fans back in the stands was extra special.

"It's a big day," said thoroughbred trainer Bob Baffert.

"I think the beauty is we have fans back. There's nothing like hearing those fans when they turn for home. The cheers. It's exciting."

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