Santa Anita Racecourse was formally part of "Rancho Santa Anita," at first owned by the then San Gabriel Mission Mayor-Domo, Claudio Lopez, and christened after a widely recognized family member named, "Anita Cota." The farm was afterward purchased by the prominent rancher Hugo Reid, a gentleman of Scottish descent. Afterward, it was acquired by multimillionaire equine breeder and popular racer Lucky Baldwin. Baldwin originally built a racecourse contiguous to the current location in what is presently referred to as Arcadia, outside of the metropolitan area of Los Angeles, in mid 1904. It shortly after shut down in 1909 and set ablaze in 1912.
In mid 1933, California allowed parimutuel betting and several investment groups worked to register racecourses. In the San Francisco vicinity, a club headed by Dr. Charles H "Doc" Strub had trouble locating a suitable location. In the Los Angeles neighborhood, another group headed by film producer Hal Roach needed of further finances. These two parallel groups joined and the just formed Los Angeles Turf Club re-launched the racecourse on Christmas Day in late 1934, making it the very first racecourse in California then. Architect Gordon Kaufmann came up with its different buildings in a blend of Colonial Revival and a form of art deco referred to as Streamline Modern, painted principally in Santa Anita's authentic colors of Persian Green and Chiffon Yellow.
In its most illustrious days, the facility’s races drew top stars such as Betty Grable, Esther Williams, and many other top names. The stockholders included Bing Crosby, Joe Brown, Al Jolson, as well as Harry Warner. Under the management of Doc Strub, Santa Anita started numerous innovations that are currently standard amenities in the world of thoroughbred horse racing, like the widespread use of starting gates and photographic finishes for each event. It is motivating to observe that the accomplishment of photo finishing at Santa Anita essentially recorded an upsurge in dead heats. Santa Anita was so prosperous that in its initial year under Doc Strub's stewardship, it gave its investors a 100% bonus on their initial investment.
In early 1940, Seabiscuit registered a major win at the Santa Anita Handicap in his final start. Two years after, in 1942, sporting at Santa Anita was shortly suspended as a result of the Second World War, at which time the prominent amenity was utilized as an "assembly center" for Japanese Americans exempted from the West Coast. For many months in mid 1942, more than 18,000 individuals survived in horse stables and military barracks made on the venue, including celebrated actor George Takei, then a youthful man. Shortly after the racetrack was re-launched in late 1945, it survived the postwar years with marked success. A downward turf course, which gave it a noticeably European stylishness to sporting at Santa Anita, was included in 1953.
Because of its closeness to Los Angeles, Santa Anita has conventionally been connected with the film and television fields. The racecourse series in the Marx Brothers 1937 hit A Day at the Races were shot there, and widely liked The Story of Seabiscuit with Shirley Temple was also filmed on venue in 1949. Numerous stars, comprising Bing Crosby and MGM mogul, Louis B. Mayer, have brought their horses at Santa Anita Racecourse. Most notably, the 1958 Santa Anita Derby was graced by 61,123 fans, making the turnout of the historical event that day an unprecedented record crowd. The huge number of people had come to witness Silky Sullivan advance from 28 lengths away from the pace and still win—going away.
The highly transformative 1960s welcomed major renewal of Santa Anita Park, including a much-extended grandstand plus supplementary seating areas. In mid 1968, Del Mar Racecourse surrendered its fixtures for fall events. A group of racers and jockeys comprising Clement Hirsch chipped in and set up the non-profit Oak Tree Racing Association. This new racing outfit had no amenities of its own and leased Santa Anita Park for its maiden autumn events in 1969. The Oak Tree Association thus became the managers of the autumn race meetings at Santa Anita Racecourse.
This meeting normally operated from the final weeks of September up to the start of November. Numerous key stakes events were staged in the course of the Oak Tree Meeting, among them many preparations to the Breeders' Cup fixtures. The Oak Tree meetings shifted to Hollywood Park for 2010 although the California Horse Racing Board gave the fall sporting dates to Santa Anita in its exclusive right in 2011. These developments led to a renaming of numerous stakes races staged at the fall fixtures that were previously linked with Oak Tree. For instance, the Norfolk and Oak Leaf were in the process.
Groundbreaking success persisted at Santa Anita all through the 1970s and the 1980s. Around 1984, Santa Anita was the prominent location of top equestrian events at the historical1984 Olympics. The subsequent year, the racetrack set a turnout record of 85,527 individuals on the glamorous Santa Anita Handicap Day. Nonetheless, recognizing the likely revenue benefit to the State of California, the California Legislature extended off track wagering, bringing operating betting facilities within nearer driving space of the sporting-day courses. Although the Santa Anita race could still attract huge crowds, turnout numbers had reduced by a third. Merely 56,810 individuals were at the field for Santa Anita Derby Day 2007 to view a Grade I sporting function.
The Seabiscuit statue, fashioned by American craftsman Jame Hughlette Wheeler was elaborately hand-tooled by Frank Buchler, a German settler and the proprietor of Washington Ornamental Iron Company in Los Angeles. Washington Ornamental Iron Company set up all of Santa Anita's fundamental amenities.