Southern California is horseracing country as much as the bluegrass belt of Kentucky. We have the Santa Anita, Los Alamitos, Del Mar and Hollywood Park racetracks, places that some of the Hollywood film stars of yesteryear liked to frequent. We can claim a lot of racing history.
When I was growing up in Indiana, my brother never missed watching the Indy 500, and I never missed watching a Kentucky Derby. May was all about horseracing for me, not race cars. Each year brought the hope of a Triple Crown winner, a horse that could gallop to victory in all three of the big races for 3-year-olds: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes.
But Triple Crown winners were few and far between. Sir Barton was the first winner in 1919, followed by Gallant Fox in 1930, Omaha in 1935 and War Admiral in 1937. The 1940s were a good time for horseracing, with Triple Crown winners Whirlaway in 1941, Count Fleet in 1943, Assault in 1946 and Citation in 1948. But those were all before my interest in racing.