Watching the horses race at the Santa Anita Park racetrack is even more fun if you are drinking a Bloody Mary from the bar. That’s what I did with some of my friends and ordered the park’s famous Macho Mary cocktail. If you’re there, I recommend it but if not, I have recreated the recipe below:
This Bloody Mary Recipe was inspired by the ones at Santa Anita Racetrack
- 32 oz tomato juice
- 1 oz fresh lemon juice
- 1 oz fresh lime juice
- 2 tsp hot sauce (more if you like the heat)
- 2 heaping Tbsp prepared horseradish
- 2 heaping Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
- 1 heaping tsp celery salt
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- Other garnishes can include celery, pickled asparagus, a strip of crisp bacon, a cutting of rosemary, or just about anything else you can think of. One Bloody Mary I saw even had a small beef slider on a spear.
- Combine all ingredients in a pitcher with a tight-fitting lid. Close the pitcher, and shake vigorously. Prepare up to four days in advance. It's best if it marinates for at least 24 hours. To assemble the cocktail sprinkle celery salt on a board. Rub a lemon wedge on the rim of the glass. Turn the glass over and into the celery salt. Pour 2 parts vodka and 4 parts Bloody Mary Mix into the glass. Garnish with a lemon wedge, olives or any other vegetables you like. I used a pickled asparagus spear in the image above. (A crisp piece of bacon, celery, carrots, etc.)
If you want a healthy cocktail, this is as good as it gets
Mixed with a rich tomato-based vegetable juice, it has a garden of healthy vegetables mixed in. I used Trader Joe’s garden mix to make this Bloody Mary recipe and poured it into a frosty beer mug. Then, I garnished it with a lemon wedge, olives, and a stalk of pickled asparagus. You can get creative with Bloody Mary garnishes. I’ve even seen them with a hamburger slider stuck on a spear.
Santa Anita Racetrack
It had been ages since I was at a racetrack. I would occasionally go with my Dad and Grandfather when I was a kid. And Santa Anita Park was always one of my favorites.
The FrontRunner Restaurant
One of my friends was celebrating her birthday and decided to have it at the park’s luxurious FrontRunner Restaurant.
It has floor-to-ceiling open windows looking out to the track with a panoramic view of the San Gabriel Mountains and is one of the best places to sit if you are there.
It also has the 2nd longest bar in the world.
When the races aren’t running, the FrontRunner is used for conferences, private parties, and other events. If it’s hot outside, like it was the day we were there, it’s the coolest place to be.
Order their Macho Mary
The Macho Mary is the FrontRunner’s version of a Bloody Mary and is one of their specialty drinks. The mix includes citrus and part of the reason it’s so good is that they let it marinate for at least 24 hours. I learned some of their secret ingredients while participating in a vodka tasting that was being held while we were there.
The history of Santa Anita Park
Santa Anita Park opened in 1934 after parimutuel gambling was made legal in 1933. Movie studio owner and producer Hal Roach and Dr. Charles H. Strub, a San Francisco Dentist, built it in Arcadia, California. It’s about 45 minutes from Downtown Los Angeles depending on the traffic. It was preceded by an earlier racetrack located nearby that was erected by Elias J.”Lucky” Baldwin, in 1907. He owned a great deal of property in Pasadena, Sierra Madre, and Arcadia at the time.
The Old Turf Club
When I was a kid, we used to watch the races at the old Turf Club.” It still has plenty of 1930’s charm.
You can also eat and watch the races in the recently renovated and upscale “Chandelier Room.”
One of my favorite things to do at the track, (because I’m clueless about gambling) is to go down to the paddock to watch the horses getting ready to race. You can see them being fitted in an open stable at the front of the Park. A few minutes before post time, the jockeys will parade them quickly around the grass paddock and head off to the gate. In the center of the grass is a statue of Sea Biscuit who raced at Santa Anita Park before going on to win the Triple Crown.
Gotta love those jockeys
I remember watching Bill Shoemaker and Liffit Pincay Jr. race at Santa Anita Park. Today’s jockeys still hang out near the stable in the jockey room until their horses are ready to ride.
My method of betting is to watch the horses walk the paddock and then try to guess who will be the winner base on their spirit. It isn’t very methodical and rarely ever works for me, anyway. A man sitting with us at the Frontrunner told us about the time his mother got fed up with his dad because he teased her for going with her intuition rather than analyzing the stats. One horse had just taken a big dump on the paddock right before a race was about to start. She told her husband that it would win because it felt so much better now. The horse won and Bill’s dad never teased his mother again.
Thoroughbreds are stunningly majestic and magical to watch as they saunter in front of you. I know some people are opposed to horse racing, but as one of my friends mentioned, you can tell they love to race. Some have attitudes like “I’m the big enchilada. Watch me annihilate those other weenies.”
Because the FrontRunner Restaurant is at the top of the elevator, we only went down to the paddock once. It was more of an effort to go down than I remember as a kid and it was blazing hot outside. Instead, we had more Bloody Mary’s, champagne, while we munched juicy grass-fed burgers. What a lovely way to spend a Sunday.
The horse community comes through during a disaster
There was a huge brush fire in the San Gabriel Mountains near the track the week before we were there and communities of people were evacuated with not much time to do it. 200 horses also had to be rescued. Two rival horse transport companies and workers from Santa Anita Park drove up into the treacherous hills to remove the animals from the fire zone. They were taken to vacant stables at the racetrack and to the Fairplex in Pomona. A feed company donated food and supplies. The entire horse community jumped in to help.
A Warning – Santa Anita Racetrack has experienced numerous mysterious horse deaths in recent years due to shady medication practices. New regulations have been put in place to resolve the situation. Otherwise, the future of horseracing and racetracks will be in serious jeopardy.
If you love horses you may also enjoy reading my post: The Fiesta of the Spanish Horse at the Los Angeles Equestrian Center
What is your favorite racetrack? Please leave a comment below.