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Horse Racing: Side Track: Spanish laid foundations in Golden State; BACK ON THE RACING ROAD.

Byline: Nicholas Godfrey

ALTHOUGH American racing's west-coast powerhouse of southern California did not establish itself until the 1930s, the sport's roots in the self-styled Golden State date back much further.

Spanish conquerors arrived with stallions and mares from Europe and staged their own races in improvised straights. As early as 1851, recognisable racetracks were established in northern California, now only a second-tier circuit.

In 1873, multimillionaire gold prospector 'Lucky' Baldwin set up a stud on farmland near Los Angeles and called it the Rancho Santa Anita. A one-mile racetrack was opened in 1907, but gambling became a hot issue with politicians and, following Baldwin's death in 1909, there was no racing until after pari-mutuels were legalised in 1933.

The current Santa Anita, run by the Los Angeles Turf Club, opened to a crowd of about 25,000 on Christmas Day 1934. It is located in the LA suburb of Arcadia, near attractive Pasadena, just off the 'Foothill Freeway' (Interstate 210).
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:May 1, 2007
Words:160
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