Breeders’ Cup: Santa Anita Park

The Great Race Place

Santa Anita park hosted its first breeders’ cup on November 1, 1986. A World Championships record crowd of 69,155 were on hand to witness Hall of Fame jockey Laffit Pincay, Jr., atop dark bay stallion Skywalker, lead the Classic from start to finish that day. A record $34,884,790 was wagered across North America on the race day program. In the following decades, with off-track gambling legal in California and as online sports books grew in popularity, further moving bets away from the track, Santa Anita Park was forced to adapt to boost attendance and stay solvent. Extravagant renovations and fancy touches throughout the track, combined with record purses and the breathtaking backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains, kept Santa Anita one of the world’s premier racing destinations. Recent additions have further elevated the track experience, including an upgraded clubhouse, a revamped Chandelier room, exclusive Turf Club areas, audiovisual improvements, and new culinary delights—there’s even a hidden speakeasy for guests in the know.