Rocking Derby Day

Designer tacos and great races at Santa Anita

Wednesday, April 9, 2014 | 9:25 pm

A day of great food and great racing at Santa Anita.

On a sunny Saturday afternoon in early April there is no finer place to be than the manicured grounds of Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, where we were last Sunday, for the 77th running of the Santa Anita Derby.

The historic track, the last in Southern California, also continued a great tradition of hosting 30 local gourmet food trucks and a surprisingly large number of craft beers from all over California. As the crowd waited expectantly for the Santa Anita Derby in the 8th race, we explored the many recently renovated areas all over the park.

One exceptional new space within Santa Anita is the recently redesigned Turf Club and adjacent Chandelier Room. With private elevator access near the main entrance to the park, the Chandelier club is a complete re-imagination of a race track space with luxurious seating, an off track betting room with walls of televisions showing racing from across the country and, on this Final Four weekend, the college basketball games from Dallas, Texas.

Ali Namdar of Xurus Winery (“Xurus” is the Persian word for “rooster”) brought their most recent cabernet sauvignon and sauvignon blanc from their land in Lake County. Blackbird Winery from Yountville in Napa Valley brought their master sommelier Jeridian Frye to share their delicious reds and rose-type wines. Representatives from Balvernie Donelan and Tanner Wineries also came to showcase their varietals and the amazing harvest from their properties.

Out in the infield, we heard the sweet sounds of Neil Diamond’s ‘Sweet Caroline’ being sung by the San Francisco cover band Super Diamond, halfway through their afternoon set.   Pasadena’s own Dog Haus restaurant anchored the food area along with the Grilled Cheese truck, Kogi (the originator of gourmet food trucks), The Lobos Truck, and dozens more.  Braving the lines, we decided to try a bit of comfort food including Dog Haus sliders and a basic grilled cheese sandwich to enjoy with beer from nearby Eagle Rock Brewery. Since bursting onto the scene in the past few years, the folks at Stone Brewery in San Diego have brought their hop heavy beers to festivals and local bars and this Saturday they had three of their finest brews ready to taste.

After finding a little extra cash in our pockets after the big Derby race, won in a romp by Kentucky Derby hopeful California Chrome, we decided to try our own local hops and queued up to try some of the brews from the Bruery of Placentia in Orange County.  Full of hops, their Mischief Ale is a strong beer with loads of hops. Gathering with some local clubs, we toasted to a great day at the races, to the prospects for our California connection to the Kentucky Derby and the start of a great spring of racing at Santa Anita.

Santa Anita racing continues this Thursday afternoon and Pasadena Now will be at Clocker’s Corner Thursday morning to investigate what we’ve been told is the best breakfast in town.

Santa Anita Race Track is at 285 W Huntington Dr., Arcadia, CA 91007. (626) 574-7223.

 Here’s more info on just about everything:

Dog Haus –

Xurus wine –

Blackbird winery –


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