Closure of Betfair Hollywood Park after 75 years
California-based racecourse Betfair Hollywood Park has confirmed its closure after it was announced that the venue is to be converted into a residential and retail development.
According to the Associated Press news agency, the track played host to its final horseracing event on Sunday, ending 75 years of racing at the venue.
The track welcomed horseracing greats such as Seabiscuit, Zenyatta and Seattle Slew during its lifetime.
Jack Van Berg, a Hall of Fame Trainer that has raced in California for 41 years, blamed other cities and the state itself for the track’s demise and said he plans to relocate to Oaklawn Park in Arkansas following the closure.
“I just think it’s a pathetic thing,” he said. “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. I’ve had enough. I don’t like California racing anymore. I don’t like the way they run it and what they do.”
Betfair Hollywood Park is the second major California racetrack to close in recent years following the closure of Bay Meadows near San Francisco in 2008, which was shut down after 74 years to make way for a similar development.
The future of Betfair Hollywood Park had been in question since Churchill Downs sold its Hollywood Park Land Co. in 2005.
At the time of the sale, the new owner said that racing would continue at the venue for at least three years while an effort was made to revitalise the sport’s business model.
However, the track suffered from declines in wagering and attendance, while state-wide initiatives to install slot machines at the track also failed, despite it already boasting a poker card room.
The 260-acre site will now be turned into 3,000 housing units, 25 acres of parkland, and a retail and entertainment district.