A Very last Hurrah for Hollywood Park

December 14th, 2013

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — “And now, women and gentlemen, Hollywood Park belongs to you,” the race caller, Joe Hernandez, stated above the general public-tackle program on June 10, 1938. Among the forty,000 folks who arrived for opening working day at Southern California’s latest racetrack have been the era’s largest movie stars, which includes Al Jolson, Joan Crawford, Milton Berle, Claudette Colbert, Bob Hope and Barbara Stanwyck.

Most of the track’s 600 unique shareholders had a immediate connection to Hollywood and the monitor chairman, Jack Warner. The keep track of alone, constructed in a bean subject, was eleven miles south of Warner Bros. Studios on Sunset Boulevard. About five months soon after opening day, Hollywood Park held its first Gold Cup, which turned the biggest yearly race on the track’s calendar. It was won by a horse named Seabiscuit.

Hollywood Park’s final race is scheduled for Dec. 22. Between the relative handful of very likely to witness the track’s last moments are people who nonetheless keep in mind the serendipitous synchronization of the golden eras of horse racing and Hollywood.

For a long time, they have labored at Hollywood Park, up-near observers of the individuals — the popular and the determined, the weekend entertaining-seekers and the each day gamblers with names like Frankie Eyelashes, Unwanted fat Eddie and Frank the Hat. They realized tiny of the horses, less of the hidden rituals in the backstretch stables that have undermined an industry, like the doping of possible champions and the discarding of unwelcome thoroughbreds. They just realized what produced Hollywood Park different from the rest.

Theirs was the sunny see from the grandstand — a collective memory of historical past and rumor, of movie star sightings and mob hustles, of cheats and thrills, of deafening extend operates and silent decay.


Each race starts with 34 common notes. And for 25 a long time at Hollywood Park, the bugler — formally, the “horn blower” — has been Jay Cohen.

He has performed “Call to the Post” — formally, “First Call” — a lot more than 85,000 occasions, listed here and elsewhere. He knows this since he keeps track in a notebook.

Monica Almeida/The New York Moments

Jay Cohen claims he has carried out “First Call” far more than 85,000 occasions in his profession.

“No a single arrives to the observe due to the fact of the trumpet,” Cohen stated. “But they all hear it when they are here.”

Including a dose of tradition and formality to the daily proceedings, Cohen wears a “coach guard” uniform. Hollywood Park purchased two of them in the 1990s, at $ four hundred every, prior to the track’s attendance descended into its lethal plummet. Cohen’s two-tone jacket is deep green with tan accents, and the tan trousers are tucked into using boots. He wears a tan best hat.

Cohen is also a magician, and his coat pockets are filled with novelties for gags and tips. The appropriate a single just lately held a miniature horse head, a gadget that tends to make a squealing audio, and a very small plastic nun. (“How numerous do I have in this hand? Nun!” The group groans.)

People request him to engage in a particular tune or to occur to their birthday celebration or to appear in their tv show or film. He was the bugler in the 2003 film “Seabiscuit.” About a dozen times a 12 months, he performs a funeral.

Cohen phone calls every single race with the common da-da-da, da-da-da, duh-duh-duh-duh chorus, adopted seamlessly by a next music. Only the very first race of the day is often the same: “Call to the Post” followed by “Hooray for Hollywood.”

Cohen knows countless numbers of tunes, and he performs to his audience. He honored Veterans Working day by enjoying military marches. When he places the actress June Lockhart, he will enjoy the theme from “Lassie” or “Lost in Room.”

He has considered challenging about Hollywood Park’s ultimate tune. He regarded the Looney Tunes send out-off, “That’s All, Individuals!” But it appeared a bit way too glib, even for a gentleman who boards the push box elevator and says to its operator, “Women’s lingerie, remember to!” Conversely, “Taps” would be way too bleak. This is a funeral for a area, a time, not a particular person.

No, the monitor will shut the way every working day commenced: “Hooray for Hollywood.”


Monica Almeida/The New York Instances

So several of jockey Laffit Pincay Jr.’s 9,530 profession victories came at Hollywood Park that a street was renamed in his honor.

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