Moments before Hollywood Park shut off its lights for good on Sunday, Todd Schrupp, one of the better announcers in sports, gave the storied race track a deserving sign off.
Tribute stories have all mentioned the legendary thoroughbreds–Seabiscuit, Citation, Seattle Slew, Affirmed (the last three Triple Crown winners)–that have raced at the famed track. Bing Crosby, Cary Grant, Walt Disney, Jack Wagner and a bevy of stars and starlets all graced the track during its glory days. The Breeders Cup was introduced there in 1984 before the Internet did not make it necessary for racing fans to wager at the race track.
Schrupp said he remembered the late Bill Schumaker, who came to the park every day in a wheelchair so he could be the first to congratulate Laffit Pincay when he broke his record for most wins by a jockey.
He mentioned that he was trying to get some perspective on what it means when a landmark of 75 years suddenly ceases to exist. He said “whether someone or something you truly care about has been in your life for one, 75, or 500 years… when it’s gone, it hurts.”
He said fans told him they needed to see the track one more time and another told him that he could see his dad running aside the horses. Race fans did not come to Hollywood Park to “remember a horse but to remember a moment in time or in your life.”
“This oval behind us is more of a memory-go-round than it is a race track,” he said.
He quoted lyrics from Vernon Reed and Tracy Morris: “You can tear a building down, but you can’t erase a memory.” And also from Peter and the Starcatcher: “It’s supposed to hurt. That’s how you know it meant something.”
“For 75 years, Hollywood Park meant something and the light of our collective memory will ensure that it always will,” Schrupp said to Billy Joel’s “Say Goodbye to Hollywood.”
It was a poignant farewell for all who have fond and indelible memories of being at the Hollywood Park race track with their parents–and grandparents. Horse racing fans found it so moving that they requested the footage of Schrupp’s farewell speech to be available online. Thankfully, TVG did just that: