A crowd of more than 40,000 is expected for opening day at Santa Anita Park on Sunday, Dec. 26, which, along with advance ticket sales running well ahead of last year could portend not only a strong opening week at the venerable horse race track but also a boost to the local economy. “Whenever we’re able to generate big on-track crowds, it has an immediate effect locally on places like hotels, bars, restaurants, and other service-oriented businesses,” said Santa Anita president George Haines.
Santa Anita also contributes substantially to local employment. Haines said the track will employ and average 1,000 to 1,200 people per day, which he estimates is more than anyone else in the region on a seasonal basis. Opening day will find more than 400 mutuel tellers as well as 250 to 300 servers, bartenders, ushers and customer service people. Additionally, there will be about 15 Jockey Room valets, the same number of assistant starters on the starting gate, and 10 to 12 people operating heavy equipment like tractors and water trucks, which are required each racing day. Additionally, the track employs a full staff of union tradesmen, plumbers, electricians, carpenters, janitorial, plus staffing required in the broadcast center, racing office, marketing and graphics, press box and parking lots. “The overall economic impact of our live racing is felt not just locally, but throughout California and around the country,” Haines continued. “When you consider some of the integral components of our sport, from the point of conception, to the feed, the training, transportation and all of the people and businesses that work in and are affected by these various aspects of our industry, you begin to realize just how important a strong, viable Santa Anita is.”