One of Thoroughbred Racings’ most famous venues has been closed after the deaths of more than 30 horses so far in 2019.  The governor of California has stepped in and authorized the suspension of operations at famed Santa Anita Park at Arcadia, California.

Santa Anita is one of the most popular thoroughbred racetracks in the country attracting thousands of fans to the race and millions of dollars in wagering every day that the ponies run. The old track is home to various prestigious races each year including the Santa Anita Derby and the Santa Anita Handicap. The Breeder’s Cup Race has been run there many times.

Only a few weeks ago the owners of Santa Anita Park, The Stronach Group, decided to keep the facility open despite the mysterious loss of over 20 horses at the time. The situation has since gone from bad to worse. More horses have died and a Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer has been suspended from the track after 4 of his horses died in the stables at the track.

What is strange is that no one seems to know what is going on.  What is killing the houses?  Surely not their trainer.  How could this be happening? Speculation ranges from some exotic virus in the soil to venom from a poison dart frog. Well equipped experts have so far not come up with an answer.

Thoroughbred Horse Racing in the state of California is supervised by the California Horse Racing Board which apparently had to go to Governor Gavin Newsome and the California State Senate to get authority to suspend the track license at Santa Anita Park “to protect the health and safety of horses and riders”.

Spokesperson for the Stronach Group, Tim Ritvo told the press, “In whole, we feel confident in the track and we’re just being very proactive.  We want to do all the testing that needs to be done.  When we believe we’re in good shape, we’ll start to train over again”.  One might ask why they were not a bit more proactive before the governor and the senate had to shut them down.

And this has been going on for awhile now.  Back in early March all thoroughbred racing was cancelled after the 21st horse died since December 18, 2018 and only resumed on towards April.

A myriad of tests were done on everything from the horses, to the feed and even the soil on the racetrack, but no specific conclusions were reached.  No one managed to figure it out and, after racing resumed, horses began to die again.  Now the proud old racetrack is closed down and lots of folks are out of work.

Next up on the agenda at Santa Anita Park will be the return of the Breeder’s Cup on September 27th.  At least that is what is scheduled.  Surely the Breeder’s Cup Board will take a very close look at Santa Anita Park before allowing their popular annual race to be run there again in 2019.


nfl foodRemember back in the old days when ‘going out to the ball park’ meant eating hotdogs, popcorn and cotton candy.  You couldn’t even get a cold beer at most ball parks.  Sporting events were sort of like camping trips where everyone dressed up warmly and fans often resorted to bringing their own food and beverages, especially ‘beverages’.   

 Stadiums were mostly cold grey concrete structures everywhere under the seats and facilities were basic….at best.  Guys with strong arms used to carry Cokes….in glass bottles….up and down the rows of fans….they sold you a coke, poured it into a plastic cup and lugged the empty bottles away.  How times have changed!

 In the past ten years or so, America has gone ‘foodie’ crazy.  Chefs have become international celebrities and cooking shows can be found at almost any time of the day or night. This sudden food consciousness has given rise to a significant upgrade in the quality of food that most of us consume daily. 

 So the folks running Levi’s Stadium outside of San Francisco have raised the bar up a couple of more notches with what will be available to eat at their new beautiful stadium.  In fact, they have dedicated over 17,000 square feet of space in the new stadium to feeding the sports fans in style. 

 If you follow the food magazines, you have probably already heard of Chef Michael Mina.  The Michelin stared Chef has been featured in such prestigious publications as Gourmet, Food & Wine and Bon Appétit as one of the best and most original young Chefs in the country.   

 As it turns out, Michael Mina has been a huge San Francisco 49er fan for many years…as well as a season ticket holder since 1991.  When the team moved into its new facility the stadium managers brought in the popular Chef and gave him 17,000 square feet to work on with only one guideline…..”Make this place awesome”…..so he did just that.  

 Levi’s Stadium probably now has the most exotic, most varied….and most expensive…. stadium food of all the existing NFL stadiums today.  That was their goal to start out with.  Where else can a season ticket holder purchase a $5,000 a year tailgate pass that allows them to graze among several first rate restaurants there at the stadium and enjoy a wide variety of gourmet grub at each stop.  

Now $5,000 may seem a bit high for a single season pass, but, remember, the deal includes all that you can drink as well.  So, for some dedicated fans, it may turn out to be a bargain in disguise.

Actually, what transpired in Levi’s Stadium as the ‘cutting edge’ of stadium food has now become the norm in many upscale stadiums across the country, even to the point of holding food festivals and competitions before big sporting events.  Chefs everywhere are competing with each other weekly to see whose next presentation can be more outrageous than their last, which was already pretty outrageous!

So, Bon Appétit, and don’t forget the Tums!

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