Opening Day, Hooray: Santa Anita Park

Celebratory events aplenty are in store, plus: ponies, ponies, and more ponies.

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The mountains, the palms, and that classic Santa Anita view, plus really fast manes? Yep, opening day is here, or nearly. Make for Arcadia on Thursday, Dec. 26. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

    How will you mark your 77th? We'll guess you'll have some friends and family over, and enjoy some cake and barbecue, and reflect upon seven-plus decades of experience and anecdotes.

    You probably won't host several kick-up-the-track horse races or have a whiskey tasting or give away free calendars or invite over hundreds of people ready to fill out racing forms. But that's just the kind of 77th Santa Anita Park will throw when it again marks its traditional opening day on Thursday, Dec. 26.

    "Two Grade I, $300,000 stakes will highlight opening day festivities; the $300,000 Malibu and the $300,000 La Brea," say the Park people, but, as you might know, a day at the races is never simply a day at the races. A calendar with the theme of Flying Silks -- a reference to stable colors -- will be given away with paid general admission, and other non-trackian to-dos fill out the opening.

    Such as? Well, a whiskey tasting is set to fill some tables at the Chandelier Room, which underwent a recent sprucing-up. "(U)nlimited tastings of fine whiskeys," plus prosecco and posh eats, are on the menu at the swank sup-and-shout-for-the-ponies to-do. Tickets are $150 and trust: This'll be a full chunk of your Santa Anita day. The shindig gets going at 11:30 a.m., a half hour ahead of the first post time of noon.

    Eating and sipping, though, make up a big part of every Santa Anita day, whether you're going the hand-carved sandwich route in the stands or doing the bubbly thing at the FrontRunner.

    Yep, some people go Santa Anita to participate in the thrill of the horse race, but some come to dine, admire the beautiful animals, gaze upon that quintessential mountains-and-palm-trees backdrop, and get their eat on.

    However you choose to take in one of the planet's best-known horsey destinations is a-ok, of course. Santa Anita's been around for the better part of eight decades, and stalwart landmarks aren't known for being fussy or particular about how attendees enjoy what they offer.

    Plus, the day-after-Christmas-ness just makes it a pretty convivial setting, all around. There are more Opening Week happenings, though, if you're busy cleaning up the wrapping paper on Dec. 26 -- check 'em all out.

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