Santa Anita’s First-Ever Hollywood Meet Begins Friday

Written By Dave Bontempo on April 20, 2023
Santa Anita is set to host it's first-ever Hollywood Meet for California horse racing, from

Hooray for Hollywood. California gamblers are set to embrace a formal new name for the next phase of California racing.

After a regularly scheduled break from live racing that concluded April 9, Santa Anita’s first-ever Hollywood Meet will begin Friday with first post time at 1 p.m. 

The 28-day Hollywood Meet will run through Sunday, June 18 and will offer fans and horsemen world class racing, as well as a wide array of dining and entertainment options.

Free parking and admission will be offered each Friday, along with $3 beers and $5 margaritas for those 21 and over. Gamblers can access all the action at the Arcadia facility, via simulcast outlets or FanDuel TV.

Hollywood Meet operation schedule

The Hollywood Meet, with the exception of Memorial Day weekend at the end of May, will operate like this:

Friday through Sunday will have a first post time of 1 p.m. each day.

The only exceptions will be the Triple Crown Saturdays of May 6 (Kentucky Derby), May 20 (Preakness Stakes) and June 10 (Belmont Stakes). First post will be at noon on those days.

Hernandez may become betting magnet

Santa Anita’s recently-concluded Classic Meet leaders, jockey Juan Hernandez, trainer Phil D’Amato and owners Rancho Temescal and Red Baron’s Barn, will all compete on a full-time basis at the Hollywood Meet. Horsemen get a fresh start in all statistical categories.

Hernandez has already been announced to ride in 15 of the races on Friday and Saturday, with Sunday’s program pending.

This will be an important consideration for bettors, as Hernandez will be the biggest name jockey at the meet. Gamblers may end up flocking to his horses and perhaps over-bet them.

Thus, bettors who like the horses Hernandez won’t ride may get a better price than normal. 

Weekend program overview


A nine-race card packed with a combination of mid-sized and large fields. Bettors have a puzzle in the 8th, which features 11 horses going six furlongs at the claiming $10,000 level. This could be the breeding grounds of a nice payout.


A 10-race card, highlighted by the $200,000 Californian Stakes at 1 1-8 miles, in race 9.

The $100,000 Kona Gold unfolds over 6 1-2 furlongs in Race 5.

A maiden special weights event on turf wraps up the card with an 11-horse field. Some of Santa Anita’s biggest betting returns occur on the turf in large fields.


A nine-race card highlighted by the $100,000 Siren Lure, 6 1-2 furlongs on the turf.

Golden state gamblers will follow one of their own

There will be a special California angle, too.

Golden State bettors can follow the exploits of Flavien Prat, one of the California circuit’s perennial leading riders. Prat has been announced to ride Angel of Empire in the Kentucky Derby. Angel of Empire won the Risen Star and Arkansas Derby races.

Prat chose to ride Angel of Empire, who will probably be the second choice at the Derby behind Forte.

When looking at Saturday’s feature events, a field of six goes postward at 1 1-8 in the Californian.

This is how the field shapes up, from the rail out.


This is literally a case of name-dropping. He’s been in with big names and he’s dropping in company.

He ran a gallant second behind Art Collector in the $3 million Pegasus at Gulfstream Park. Showing off his California form, he stalked near the front and vied for the lead coming for home. He was just beaten by a better horse.

He then finished third behind Stilleto Boy in the Santa Anita Stakes. He drops into a $200,000 slot and is a major fit here.

Kiss Today Goodbye

Kiss Today Goodbye has flattened out by being unable to win in eight tries since the San Antonio Stakes here in 2020.

However, he did manage one second in that time frame and it was at this distance. He figures to run from the back and would need many things to break right.

Mr. Impossible

Mr. Impossible has authored a circuitous route back here. He was close in ability to Defunded and ran second to him in 2021. He then flattened out, and couldn’t break through in stakes company. However, he comes off a win at synthetic at Golden Gate and now takes on Defunded again.

He’s not a likely win candidate but runs hard each time.

Midnight Mammoth

It’s refreshing to see a horse that has run 18 times as a 4-year-old. This is how racing used to be before the emphasis switched to breeding and stud fees.

Midnight Mammoth hasn’t won beyond allowance optional claiming, but represents the story of a trainer ambitiously placing a fit horse. He just won at 1 1-16 on this track at 11-1 by five lengths. It was probably the race of his life.

Now he seeks a parlay in moving up, and should be a speed factor.


Based on class, Parnelli hasn’t been able to win in stakes company and has been beaten by Royal Ship, who is also in this race.

To his advantage, did get a nice third at this distance after an excellent performance in the San Pasqual. He got a begrudging third at 18-1 after briefly taking the lead in the homestretch.

But that was three months ago. We don’t know which horse we get here.

Royal Ship

California fans know all about this hard-knocking 7-year-old. Royal Ship may have peaked in winning the San Diego at Del Mar last year, and has been going in reverse the last two races and was trounced by Defunded last October.

Nonetheless, Royal Ship was part of a quip by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert after the Pacific Classic at Del Mar. It was won by Horse of the Year Flightline. Country Grammer beat Royal Ship for second, but was so far behind Flightline that Baffert said Country Grammer probably thought he won.

Overview of the Kona Gold

Brickyard Ride and Anarchist figure to get a lot of play. Brickyard Ride has captured this race and won four in a row at one point. Anarchist nipped him at the wire in the San Simeon on turf. Now they return to the dirt.

Positivity ran second to Brickyard Ride at six furlongs in his last race, but that was at the start of 2022.

Sunrise Journey moves up in class after victories at the claiming and allowance levels.

Armagnac has been running in the middle of the pack, whether that’s the Preakness Stakes of 2022 or allowance company, in his last.

Overall, Brickyard Ride and Anarchist have proven the most in this field and that’s where the betting money will likely go.

Good luck finding your betting sweet spot!

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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo is a writer for PlayCA, and has covered the horse racing and boxing industry extensively since the 1980s. He was an award-winning writer at the Press of Atlantic City. As a broadcaster, he has won the Sam Taub Award for Excellence in Boxing Broadcasting, issued by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has called major fights for HBO, ESPN, Showtime, and other networks since the 1980s. He is in the New Jersey and Atlantic City Boxing Halls of Fame. Dave shifted gears to cover the emerging legalized sports-betting industry in 2018. He now serves as the go-to authority on horse race betting across multiple websites, including PlayCA and California Casinos.

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