Friday, February 3, 2012
Horse racing is one of my favorite hobbies and Santa Anita is my favorite track. I was very anxious to see the first two episodes of HBO's mini-series, Luck, this past weekend.
In the past year, when visiting Santa Anita, you saw movie trailers parked by the entrance to Clocker's Corner. When you entered Santa Anita, there was a sign with what appeared to be some legalese from the movie company. The sign basically said that by entering Santa Anita, you are allowing the movie company to possibly catch you on film, whether you like it or not and you can't ask for any money if you are caught on film. These guys were serious about this long filming process.
Last weekend was the first two episodes of Luck and after watching the first one, I wondered to myself whether the general public was going to get lost in the dialog. The degenerate gamblers (And they remind me of The Stooges from Hollywood Park) talk in a vernacular that only a denizen of the track would get. There is Dustin Hoffman's character, who has just been released from prison and he has some backdoor deals going for putting a casino in place. Nick Nolte is an old time owner/trainer who appears to have found a horse that might run for the roses and Richard Kind is a jockey agent and after the first episode I can see that he is going to steal a number of scenes. I really like the fact that they have placed Gary Stevens and Chantel Sutherland in bit parts to really add to the realistic sense of the show.
All in all I really liked it because it was not a feel good story in the vain of Secreteriat or Seabiscuit. This is a story that is played out everyday at every race track. The average person will get a crash course into the handicapping dynamics of a race, the doping end of the game and the real life stuff of horse racing. The makers of this series are not shy about it, they put down a horse in the first episode and it was graphic.
This whole entire gritty show is played against the backdrop of probably the most beautiful race tracks in the country, Santa Anita. This race track is still carrying its art deco look of days gone by but the most breathtaking aspect of Santa Anita is the track's backdrop, the majestic San Gabriel Mountains.
If you have HBO take a look at this series. Who knows, you might want to take a ride down to the track and pick up a new hobby. If you are going to do this, I will give you a piece of advice, "Don't ever take a tip from a guy with holes in his shoes!"