Santa Anita Introduces "Seabiscuit" Tours
Date Posted: 7/23/2003 2:59:08 PM

Edited from a Santa Anita release

Santa Anita Park will offer free, guided tram tours of areas of the famed racetrack associated with the legendary horse Seabiscuit. The tours will begin Saturday, July 26, the day after the Universal motion picture Seabiscuit opens nationwide.

The tour will give fans a close-up look at Santa Anita's stable area, including "Barn 38," where Seabiscuit was stabled at Santa Anita from 1937 to 1940. The tour will also include locations where the movie was filmed.

The tours will be offered from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays only. Parking and admission are free. Free parking is available through Gate 8 off Baldwin Avenue.

Santa Anita Park will also offer Seabiscuit merchandise from its Champions gift shop, and everyone taking the tram tour will receive a free button that says, "Santa Anita Park, Home of Seabiscuit."

"We are offering this tour in response to requests from fans of Seabiscuit who want to see the places at Santa Anita where the great horse lived," said Santa Anita General Manager Chris McCarron, a Hall of Fame jockey who served as a racing designer and consultant on the movie. "There is no doubt, that to racing fans, Santa Anita Park is the 'Home of Seabiscuit.' "

Seabiscuit raced eleven times at Santa Anita, including his last and most famous race, his victory in the 1940 Santa Anita Handicap. His two narrow losses in the 1937 and 1938 Big'Caps attracted more than 130,000 fans.

Following the tour, patrons can walk to Santa Anita's historic Paddock Gardens and view the life-sized bronze statue of Seabiscuit in the Walking Ring.

Fans can also see the statue of jockey George "The Ice Man" Woolf, the jockey who guided Seabiscuit to a stunning victory over War Admiral in their famed match race at Pimlico in 1938.

Much of the new movie was filmed at Santa Anita Park, including the climactic scene in which Seabiscuit returns from a serious injury to win the 1940 Santa Anita Handicap. It was an extremely popular victory and solidified the 7-year-old horse's status as America's most beloved sports figure. Universal filmed for seven weeks at Santa Anita.

Santa Anita opens its Fall racing season on September 28. The Oak Tree at Santa Anita meeting continues through Nov. 9.

Seabiscuit is long gone, of course. He died at age 14 in 1947 at Ridgewood Ranch near Willits, Calif. But he is certainly not forgotten; Laura Hillenbrand's best-selling biography, "Seabiscuit, An American Legend," has been a bestseller for over two years, and the Universal motion picture is one of the year's most anticipated films.

Although it is more than 60 years since his exploits captured the hearts of America, the legend of Seabiscuit and Santa Anita remain inexorably intertwined.

Santa Anita Park is located just east of Pasadena in Arcadia. Use the I-10 or 210 Freeway and exit at Baldwin Avenue. For more information call 626/574-7223.

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