The Sport That Will Captivate For Spring

Things to watch on the big screen this spring or buy tickets for:
Baseball games. Check.
Basketball games. Check.
Classic ESPN. Check.
TNT. Check.
ABC. Check.
Horse racing … CHECK!
Yes, I do mean horse racing. What happened to our generation? Some of us are so stuck on the NBA playoffs and Major League Baseball games that we forgot one of the most popular sports in the 20th-century. Horse racing.
Way back in the 1970s (if we even consider that a long time ago), horse racing was the place to go to spend a night on the town with a date or some pals. More than 60,000 people used to fill up the boxed seats and stands in anticipation for such horses as Secretariat, Affirmed and Seattle Slew. Who?
All three of these horses won the prestigious American Triple Crown, which translates to the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.
Now, one of the only really big, BIG events covered by my non-cable television is the Kentucky Derby. Myself, as well as hundreds across the country, stared at the television screen waiting for the race to start. And they are OFF! There they go down the stretch. It’s neck-and-neck but it’s Smarty Jones who wins the race!!! Well, something like that.
OK, after a minute of watching the screen in anticipation, the race is over. It’s time to press the ‘jump’ button and resume watching the big game. That’s about all the horse racing some people might see for the rest of the year. But what happened. Why don’t we care as much about it as other generations used to?
Who knows, perhaps the sport just faded away in the background of the Magic Johnson and Larry Bird era. No offense, but even Mr. Golf himself, Tiger Woods, has made a beautiful yet boring sport grand again. Does that mean we need a new spokesperson like a jockey or horse in order to get some attention?
Last week I spent my whole Saturday afternoon at Hollywood Park watching horse races. A majority of jockeys used to be Caucasian but now a greater part of them are from south of the border. I even saw African-American jockeys. As a newcomer to the sport, I would have never guessed that underneath those lime green helmets and sunshine yellow uniforms existed a diverse group of athletes. Size sure does matter in horse racing. I love it! Any one of them could be the next poster boy for the sport.
Yet, I still don’t think that’s the answer. The sport is still there and supporting itself but we should try to advert our eyes toward Santa Anita and Hollywood Park for a change instead of the awe-inspiring Staples Center.
Before the Lakers moved ‘Downtown,’ they used to occupy the Forum in Inglewood, which was close to Hollywood Park. Now it’s just the Park that remains. Wait, it’s not just the Park, but it is a casino as well.
Who wouldn’t mind gambling for a couple of bucks if you’re at the ripe old age of 21? I placed two bucks on horse number one to show and I won! You can really make a buck if you gamble on the right horse. Or if not, then mosey on down to the Hollywood Park-Casino, alive and buzzing in 1950’s architecture. At night, the lights glow like old Hollywood in hot pink and turquoise.
The reason why I mention the Park is to entice those students who stick to their motto, ‘Irvine is boring.’
Well then go and visit Hollywood Park on a Friday night where their sports bar, ‘Longshots’ serves soda pop, beer and hot dogs for a dollar each. As much as a penny pincher I may be, I have to say, it’s a good deal. I mean a bargain.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to promote anyone, but the sport of horse racing itself needs us. Who knows