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Hollywood before Santa Anita

Hollywood before Santa Anita

Down Mexico Way

(p.4) 1 Hollywood before Santa Anita
Hollywood at the Races
Alan Shuback
University Press of Kentucky

With pari-mutuel wagering outlawed in California in the 1920s and early 1930s and Prohibition in effect throughout the United States, newly rich Hollywood types flocked to Tijuana, Mexico,where racing, gambling, drinking, and the nightlife thrived at the Hipodromo de Tijuana and at Agua Caliente, a hotel-casino complex that included thenightclub where Rita Hayworth wasdiscovered and a racetrack where Hollywood whet its appetite for horse racing. The Agua Caliente Handicap became the richest horserace in the world, won by both Phar Lap and Seabiscuit. A horse owned by director Raoul Walsh won the Agua Caliente Derby, and producer Joe Schenck once dropped $100,000 on a single race.It was all captured in a mural executed by bandleader Xavier Cugat depicting the Hollywood elite frolicking in Tijuana.

Keywords:   Mexico, Tijuana, Agua Caliente, Hollywood social habits, horse racing

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