== From Bloodhorse.com notes Corey Nakatani’s win in the final race was his 1,202nd at the track. That leaves him just eighth on the all-time list.
“That was really emotional,” Nakatani said. “It’s hard to really say that much. This has always been such a great place to be. After winning a bunch of races here, it’s hard to see it go. It’s pretty sad.”
== From the Associated Press’ Beth Harris, who caught up with 77-year-old Hall of Fame trainer Jack Van Berg: “I just think it’s a pathetic thing,” he said of the track’s closure. “It’s ridiculous to let something like this that so many people love and thrive on close. They did everything they could to kill racing.”
Van Berg, who has raced in California for 41 years, said he’s moving his operations to Oaklawn Park in Arkansas.
“I’ve had enough,” he said. “I don’t like California racing anymore. I don’t like the way they run it and what they do.”
== From the L.A. Times’ David Wharton, talking to a fan:
“It takes closing up to draw 30,000?” said Terry Howard, who lives down the street and attends racing daily. “Where were all these people before?”
Dick Van Patten’s eyes welled up as he stepped out of line at the Hollywood Park Turf Club will-call window early Sunday afternoon and approached the woman across the way who was taking admission tickets.
“Dickie!” she exclaimed as she saw the 85-year-old actor slowly came over.
“I just wanted to tell you how much I’m going to miss you,” Van Patten said to her.
People watch grooms prepare horses for a race on the final day of competition at Hollywood Park on Sunday. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Just about two hours later, there was Van Patten, coming down from his front row seat in Section 31 to take his rightful spot in the tracks’ winner’s circle with a sheepish grin.
The filly he co-owns, Tanquerray, made up five lengths with about a quarter mile left in the third race and, urged on by Corey Nakatani, blew past favorites Highly Rated and PrettyPriceyGirl for the victory by almost a length. It paid off at $12.60.
Those kind of conflicting emotions seemed to best frame the final day of thoroughbred racing at Inglewood track.
Sentimentality swirling with a building frustration, temporarily distracted by a winning exacta ticket. Or by someone renewing their wedding vows by the track chaplain. Or by a ceremonial flyover.
Oh, right, that’s just another 838 double-deck airbus approaching LAX.
NBA: LAKERS vs. MIAMI, Staples Center, Wednesday at 2 p.m., Channel 7 CLIPPERS at GOLDEN STATE, Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN, Prime:
Well, Tickle Me Zelmo Beaty: Forbes reports that for as much as the new PlayStation and Xbox will make gamers’ hearts beat faster this time of year, there’s something out there even more insane — the average secondary market ticket for the Christmas Day Lakers-Heat game has been going for $624, or 152 percent more expensive than the average price for a typical Lakers’ home game. Maybe there’s a way to play it on the home console instead, over and over, until the Lakers figure out a way to win. Most likely bought their tickets expecting another Kobe-LeBron matchup. Go to the dictionary and look up “coal, lump.” “Even with the spiffy holiday uniforms that will be christened on Christmas day, that’s a lot of money to be paying for what is almost a guaranteed loss,” writes Jesse Lawrence in the Forbes piece. Hey, we forgot all about that T-shirt jersey marketing thing they’re also trotting out. The Lakers, 21-18 on Christmas Day games as they inch closer to .500, have matched up five times against the Heat on this day – and lost the previous four. The latest was on 2010 at Staples Center. After holding the Lakers to 14 first-quarter points, the Heat ran off with a 96-80 win while James and Bryant were jawing at each other at one point. “Just asked him what he got for Christmas,” said James, who had 27 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists while hitting a season-high five 3-pointers. This year, LeBron might give Kobe the game “Operation.” Watch the tweezers as you’re removing the funny bone.
So why does the Heat have to travel all the way to L.A. to play this game, when they are the defending champs? A USA Today story posted Saturday said incoming commissioner Adam Silver would be trying to remedy that. It makes sense, right? Meanwhile, the Clippers are just building their Christmas Day resume. That includes last year’s win over Denver at Staples Center, which included Blake Griffin and Chris Paul showing up for a post-game press conference in hideous looking Christmas sweaters. Maybe the NBA’s other TV partner, TNT, has the right counter-programming idea for Wednesday. It’s running three “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies back to back to back, ending with “At World’s End.” At the day’s end, that may get more viewers.
Isn’t Hollywood is all about pretending? There was a time when Al Davis used to jangle the keys to Hollywood Park’s future, supposedly negotiating a 65,000-seat space with 150 luxury boxes at a price tag of about $200 million about 20 years ago.
It never happened. If it did, maybe we’d decide that Hollywood Park, the race track, was stepping aside for something better. But just like all the others on this mini-list, it seems as if all the talk generated around it possibly being built makes it feel as if it’s already come and gone.
If the list is pushed toward 100, include these
= Los Alamitos Race Track
= John Elway Stadium/Granada Hills High
= Washington Park/Chutes Park
= Olympic Velodrome/Cal State Dominguez Hills
= VELO Sports Center/Carson
= Encino Velodrome
= Santa Monica College track
= Raiders team headquarters/El Segundo
= Saugus Speedway
= The Matadome/Northridge
= Riverside International Raceway
= PGA West at La Quinta
= Wilshire Country Club
= Al Houghton Stadium/San Bernardino
We’re comfortable with slotting Hollywood Park into this tier because of all the criteria it meets. Coincidentally, it is in among some of the other formidable former L.A. sports landmarks that won’t be forgotten. If only we could have seen events at Gilmore Field, Wrigley Field or the Pan Pacific Auditorium: