Many celebrities will meet at SoFi Stadium in Englewood, California, when the Rams and Bengals meet in the Super Bowl on Sunday. And while the stadium is only two years old, the location is no stranger to charm.
Built on a site a few miles east of Los Angeles International Airport that was once home to Hollywood Park, the stadium is an Art Deco-style racetrack that infused the sport of royalty with Hollywood royalty.
Backed by a group of contributors that included prominent Hollywood players such as Jack Warner, Samuel Goldwyn, Walt Disney, and Bing Crosby, the track opened on June 10, 1938, effectively becoming a national holiday among the studio group.
The 265-acre Lakes and Flowers Trail, as it was fondly referred to, was a place to see and be seen, especially in the members-only turf club, which was frequented by stars such as Cary Grant, Joan Crawford, Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney, Bob Hope, John Wayne, Alfred Hitchcock, Tony Curtis and Carol Burnett, to name a few. As the stars watched over the runway, flamingos inhabited the stadium.
The track has also hosted many famous racehorses and jockeys. In 1938, the year it opened, the Seabiscuit won its first Gold Cup. In 1951, the Citation Triple Crown winner added the Gold Cup to his resume, becoming the first million dollar race horse. In 1977, Seattle slaw exited its Triple Crown campaign, upset in the Swab Stakes. In 1979, Certain won the Gold Cup becoming the first horse to be valued at $2 million. In 1984, the inaugural Breeders’ Cup was held in Hollywood Park. He came back in 1987 and 1997. In 1999 at the track, Lafitte Pinky Jr. surpassed Bill Shoemaker’s record for jockey wins.
In 2007, she debuted a horse named Zenyatta, owned by record producer Jerry Moss and named after The Police album Zenyatta Mondatta. She went on to win 19 races in a row, eight of them in Hollywood Park. As its streak and legend grew, electrics at the racetrack were like the glory days of old.
On December 22, 2013, he played the last trumpet “Call to the Post” followed by “Hooray for Hollywood”. California Chrome, the fourth California bred to win the Kentucky Derby, won the final bets race. On May 31, 2015, the iconic amphitheater was demolished, making way for a 298-acre mixed-use development that includes the stadium, hotel, retail and commercial space, condominiums and park land.
Nowhere to be found is the statue of Shoemaker and Swaps, a California native who won the 1955 Derby and set four Hollywood Park records, three of which were world marks, that once graced the club’s entrance and were intended for development.
But some remnants of that old Hollywood era remain. The flamingos were taken to a nearby zoo. The graves of famous horses buried on the track were moved to other trails or farms. The ficus trees that were scattered on the grounds near the stadium have been replanted. Pincay Drive, in honor of Pincay Jr.’s victories. , which came into Hollywood Park more than anywhere else, intersects east and west between Crenshaw Boulevard and Prairie Avenue.
And the show continues — and the celebrities who go along with it, of course.
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