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Santa Anita 2.0: technological elegance


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Keith Brackpool speaking to media in Frontrunner


The new top exec of Santa Anita Park,  Keith Brackpool, says a frightening and tiny percentage of  people even know that the iconic 79-year-old track even exists, let alone visit the Great Race Place. Although he praised marketers for doing a good job of attracting people to the venue by staging concerts, festivals, etc., the chairman of track owner Frank Stronach’s California operations said, “We’ve done an appalling job of getting them to come back a second time.” Further, he told a gathering of media Tuesday (Sept. 24, 2013) that the horse racing industry’s lack of staying current with modern food options offered to customers “has been embarrassing.”

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Brackpool shows new 9-panel video board to guests


All the marketing in the world isn’t going to attract customers until you have a satisfactory product to offer when they get to the track, Brackpool noted, just days before the opening of the Autumn Meet this weekend at the track. Therefore, Brackpool is taking big strides to change all that, beginning with the estimated $15 million spent this summer on the addition of visually striking and elegant new design elements, high-tech video monitors of all sizes, a new food and beverage area offering a refreshing variety of options, a new private area for VIPs and high-rollers, and a sports book “lounge” for attendees to hang out and be able to watch multiple sports while monitoring and betting on horse racing. The room has a giant X-shaped counter and giant TV screens filling two walls. A walk outside on a new balcony allows visitors to watch the horses leave the paddock area and enter the stadium walk-through below them. Brackpool even forsees a change in federal laws within five years that would allow betting on all sports at places like Santa Anita, allowing the area to potentially become a full-fledged sports book.

<Story continues with more photos below the following 3-minute video highlights of Brackpool’s speech and media tour of the renovations…>

YouTube video version below..

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Get the Flash Player to see this content.The iconic Chandelier Room, which will not be officially complete until just before the Breeders’ Cup Nov. 1-2, has had a major facelift — opened up, spruced up, and a new balcony overlooking four remaining chandeliers that have mirrors above them.

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Huge mirrors also hang above the bar reflecting the magnificient San Gabriel mountains in the background of the race track. The first thing visitors now see when they step off the elevators on their way to the Chandelier Room is a stunning mural-sized black-and-white photograph of the track circa 1930s that wraps a curved wall. Spanning the distance between the two famous staircases is a new balcony overlooking the Chandelier Room, and a wall of windows that creates more light in the room than ever before, and leads to a new seating area just on the other side. Officials say the room will no longer be rented out for high school proms but will be offered as a high-priced rental venue. It has yet to be decided whether the semi-formal dress code will be revised.


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Gone is the recently-created Arcadia Suite — the ornate and comfortable private indoor/outoor terrace area for betting’s elite now renamed after the late longtime beloved shoeshine man Eddie Logan.

Many seating areas have been opened up and expanded with modern furniture and decor in the Inner Club House Mezzanine, Turf Terrace, and box seating area. The area in front of the Director’s Room has been expanded forward to allow better viewing, and is fronted by a long painted glass version of the familiar friez of race horses on the track’s facade. 


A new food area offers multiple serving areas featuring new options such as a chopped salad bar, noodle bar, hand-carved sandwich station with prime rib, and a juice/smoothie bar.

With the exception of the Chandelier Room, almost all of the new features are expected to be open and accessible beginning this weekend.

— By Scott Hettrick

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