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March 28, 2010

Horse Racing at Santa Anita Park

Horses racing to the finish at
Santa Anita Park, California

© John Corney
All rights reserved
In my native New Zealand, horse racing is a much bigger deal than it is here in the U.S. Every New Zealand city and almost every small country town has a racetrack. Growing up, Saturdays were dominated for me by the radio tuned to "the races", starting with the drone of the early morning scratchings being read and my mother marking up the "Best Bets", one of the national racing papers. With the scratchings duly noted, final decisions were to be made before a trip in the car to the T.A.B. to place the bets. The rest of the day was then punctuated by the rhythm of housework, gardening, lawn mowing, and the races from the various racetracks around the country being called over the radio at loud volumn by the famous and familiar voices of New Zealand's race commentators.

My parents, grandparents on both sides, and several neighbors had a "syndicate" into which each member contributed the princely sum of one dollar every weekend. Each week one of the group would take their turn at bearing the awesome responsibility of picking the bets for the day. So much was horse racing part of the my family traditions that my younger brother Colin even became a jockey, with the encouragement and cajoling of our paternal grandmother once it was obvious to her when he was about 2 weeks old that he was a runt.

Somehow I was spared the gambling gene and the Saturday focus and din of "the races" only served to drive me up the wall and out of the house!

However, I wasn't put off by a recent invitation to go to the Santa Anita Park racetrack here in Arcadia, Southern California, when the intention was to go merely to gamble on potting a few good shots of the nags hurtling down the track to the finishing post. This was my first visit to a horse racing track in the U.S., and I discovered that the facility is something quite grand and colorful. I have uploaded a few of the shots that I took. I applied my "digital watercolor" treatment to the photos. They can be found in my digital watercolor print gallery.

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