Santa Anita

January 6, 2012
Rimrock California

Yesterday I went to Santa Anita with my wife, which is a large racetrack in the Los Angeles area. A racetrack is not a place I would ordinarily visit, but there are parts of my life that need to be filled out, so gradually I am going through and visiting many places that perhaps seem out of character for me. A racetrack is one.

As a child I would go to the fall fairs that took place throughout eastern Ontario in Canada and watch horse racing, particularly harness racing with the sulky carts. It’s been years since I’ve seen this. Usually horse-racing is associated with gambling, but at these country fairs there was never any gambling. Here at Santa Anita, however, it is only about gambling! Regardless, I wanted to see and feel the track. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, 85 degrees, perfectly sunny and with no wind. And this was January no less.

Indirectly I have horses. My wife has them, and I even ride occasionally, so I am a little attuned to the horse world. And believe me there is such a thing as the horse world! Every weekend horsepeople from all over southern california come my desert town with their huge trucks and horse trailers. I see this world regularly. Racehorses look nothing like quarter horses. And the jockeys look nothing like me on a horse. I was stunned by how beautiful, how precise and how petite these horses and their jockeys are. Everything was tight and squeaky. It was actually exciting to see the pageantry, the dressed horses and their jockeys. A racetrack is a perfect place to take photos, so it was a blast to shoot the horses charging around the track and to hear the oohs and aahs of the crowd as the horses crossed the finish line. It’s hard for me to say just how good this track, I haven’t seen other race tracks, but certainly with the mountains in the background Santa Anita was spectacular. I can see why people would want to come here to kill an afternoon enjoying the sunshine and have a bit of fun. Gambling is a rush! In fact being at this track reminded me of being in Reno. I could feel that same sleaze factor. There is a criminal element here. It’s just in the air.

I came to this place as an observer and to take a few photos, but mostly the people were here to gamble and in their eyes you can see the look, the burning calculations and desire. There is a gambler’s look and I could see it. It was an experience to observe this part of life and I had fun. Would I come back again? Perhaps. I’d like to take some more photos. But I’d like to go to some other sporting events and try taking pictures there as well. Perhaps I will try American baseball and basketball as my next shooting opportunity.

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