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Galloping toward a friendlier Los Angeles County Fair

Yankee Dan suffered heat exhaustion after winning the fourth race of the first day of racing at Fairplex Park as part of the 73rd Racing Season on Friday. Outrider Jesus Camacho struggled to keep the horse calm as trainers doused the horse with hoses and buckets of water. It is uncommon for horses to suffer from heat exhaustion of such magnitude. / photo by Warren Bessant

John Bottala
Staff Writer

When most people think of the Los Angeles County Fair they think about the rides, games and deep fried foods while the racetrack is often forgotten.

The Fair, now on at the Fairplex through Oct. 2, also hosts horse races on the Fairplex racetrack, Sept. 9 through 25.

“The Fair is the only place where you can ride the ferris wheel, eat a corndog then bet on a horse race within the same hour,” said Joe Monte, Fairplex racing office assistant, said. “It is truly a great outing for college students.”

“This year we have made it easy for first-timers to understand how the racing game works,” said Kim Lloyd, the Fairplex’s equine manager. “We are going to have a beginners better’s program which will show people how to make a bet, and understand the horse racing game.”

“It was hard to get people to the track because they do not know what they are doing,” Fairplex staff member Stephanie Harris-Barretts said. “The beginners betting program will help solve the problem of people not understanding the game. I truly feel it will help to attract more people to the race track and understand the exciting game.”

A new outdoor bar called the Tiki Lounge has also been added right in the middle of the Fairgrounds beside the racetrack.

It is decorated like a relaxing tropical getaway with happy hour specials, gambling and flat screen TVs.

“We truly feel this Tiki Lounge will be a big asset to attracting newcomers to the race track,” Lloyd said.

“I really like what they have done to the new tiki bar area,” said Elizabeth Ellis, a senior broadcast journalism major from Chapman University.

“It is very appealing on a hot summer day to have a drink and cool off.”

The Tiki Lounge overlooks part of the fair and gives a great view of the racetrack.

At 4 p.m. Wednesday the bar offers twilight racing with a live DJ.

“People will be able to hang out in the Tiki Lounge and still get the fair atmosphere,” Lloyd said.

“The Tiki Lounge is awesome and it is going to be really fun on Wednesdays when the DJ is there,” Harris said.

The racetrack also features 35 different food trucks in the infield of the racetrack, which allows the opportunity to eat a variety of foods from deep-fried pickles to gourmet hotdogs and grilled cheese sandwiches.

“The food trucks are big for us because a lot of people follow the trucks with social media networks,” Lloyd said.

Car lovers will also love to spend a day at the races when the classic car show comes near the end of the meet in the infield.

“I think the classic cars would be a cool idea; it is always cool seeing cars you don’t see on the road anymore,” said Monrovia resident Cathy Hauk.

The Fair has focused on making the racetrack more appealing and friendly for students.

With new attractions like the Tiki Lounge, the beginners betting program, food trucks and the classic car show, horse racing could really gain popularity.

John Bottala can be reached at john.bottala@laverne.edu.

Race horses Kvell, jockeyed by Martin Pedroza; Lady’s Plan, jockeyed by Agapito Delgadillo; Warren’s Assassin, jockeyed by Jose Valdiva Jr.; and Quality Tocs, jockeyed by Daniel Vergara, compete in the second race on the first day of the 73rd racing season at Fairplex Park Friday.  Enlightened, a first-time competitor piloted by Christian Santiago Reyes, won the race. / photo by Warren Bessant

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