On a sunny afternoon in late September, I found myself off to the races at Santa Anita Park to experience the thrill of horse racing. Let me start off by saying that I knew next to nothing about this sport besides the fact that the horses usually have funny names and women in attendance like to wear big hats. To be honest, I was here for the food… a common theme on my blog! To be more specific, the Guest Chef Series was taking place in the recently renovated Chandelier Room to celebrate the Autumn Season! Although, it was almost 100 degrees that day which just proves that seasons don’t exist in Southern California, but I digress.
The Guest Chef Series hosts a catered menu from a popular Los Angeles restaurant starting at noon until five in the evening. A $65 ticket to this event includes entrance to the Chandelier Room, a glass of champagne, endless amounts of food, live music, and a daily racing program and wagering tip sheet. All of this plus perfect views of the race track (or giant tv screens if you want to hide away in the air conditioning) kept me very happy all afternoon.
The restaurant being featured on that Saturday was Barrel & Ashes, a BBQ joint in Studio City. They served quite a bit of food but I kid you not, all I remember is the fried chicken. All anyone was talking about all afternoon (okay, besides the horses) was the fried chicken. Basically, it was perfection and even though Studio City is about an hour in traffic from where I live, it would definitely be worth the drive. But fingers crossed they open one closer to LAX! I really like the concept of the Guest Chef Series as a way to bring people to Santa Anita who normally wouldn’t consider spending an afternoon at the races.
The atmosphere in the Chandelier Room was extremely energetic and entertaining, with everyone socializing and sharing their tips on which horses are the best bet. I bonded with a mother and daughter who were visiting for the first time and simply placing bets on horses based on which names they liked best. I wouldn’t endorse their strategy but they did surprisingly well and I was happy to cheer along with them!
Anyone is free to visit the paddock where all the beautiful horses are waiting and where the famous owners, trainers, and jockeys meet. All of this is located in front of the park, right across from the famous Seabiscuit statue, which I was very proud to know something about, thanks to the 2003 film with Toby Maguire. What I didn’t realize was that they filmed the movie at Santa Anita Park!
Initially, I came for the food, but I really did stay for the horses. Cheesy moment, I know. I especially enjoyed watching a female horse called Beholder, beat all of the male horses in the last race I saw that day! Next Saturday, the 24th is the last day of the Guest Chef Series before the Autumn Season ends. Alternatively, LA Weekly is hosting a Brunch at the Races event this Sunday as well and I’m happy to be giving away two tickets to one of my lucky readers! You can read more details about the event here but all you need to do is leave a comment on this post and follow me on Twitter as well as LA Weekly. Easy!
Have you ever spent a day at the races, or worn a ridiculously large hat to cheer a group of horses on? Let me know in the comments below!
*Note: I was invited to experience the Guest Chef Series. Opinions are entirely my own. I would only ever recommend something that I actually enjoyed and support!