On November 2 and 3, L.A.'s hottest tickets were at the track, as the Breeders' Cup World Championships raced into town. Celebrities of all ages stampeded to Santa Anita Park in Arcadia to watch their favorite horses run for the right to be known as the best in the world.
"These two days show the best racing in the world, because you have horses here from all over the planet. They spent a year competing to get here. This is the equivalent of the World Series and the Super Bowl for horse racing," explains Jeff Burch, vice president of advertising and development for The Daily Racing Form, the "bible" for racing lovers everywhere.
There were plenty of races both days (15 in all), as stars from every walk of life got spiffy, donned fascinators and fedoras and hit the Grey Goose-sponsored Trophy Lounge to take in all the excitement.
There was even a gang of "Breeders' Cup Ambassadors," led by horse owner (and chef extraordinaire) Bobby Flay and including actresses Elizabeth Banks, Laura Bell Bundy and Bo Derek, sports radio favorite Jim Rome and baseball great Joe Torre, whose horse Game on Dude was beaten soundly in the big $5 million-purse Classic showdown on Saturday by Fort Larned.
Friday's races, especially the exciting Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic (won by filly Royal Delta) drew Jane's Addiction lead singer Perry Farrell and his wife Etty to the betting windows, along with Dick Van Patten, singer Daphne Blunt, USA gymnast and gold medalist Kyla Ross, handsome St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson and even a prancing pack of Cirque du Soleil performers from the "Iris" show decked out in full costume.
The two-day extravaganza rolled straight into the evening on Friday, with the incredible Breeders' Cup Taste of the World celebration held a few miles away from the track at the Huntington Library and Gardens. Bobby Flay led the charge there as host, along with his Food Network pal Marcela Valladolid, who exclaimed in delight that "to be under the same roof with all these incredible chefs is amazing!"
Representing 15 different countries (reflecting the horses competing from all over the world), the chefs ranged from Joachim Splichal (Germany) and John Sedlar (Argentina) to Ed Cooney (Ireland), Nora Briceno (Venezuela), Wonny Lee (Japan) and Michael Voltaggio (USA), who turned off much of the crowd with his Beef Tongue Philly Cheesesteak. While we watched a ton of those hit the trash after people took one bite, no one was letting go of an iota of Chef Anthony Lamas' Chilean Big Eye Tuna Ceviche or Susur Lee's Canadian take on the Chinese Pork BBQ Sandwich.
There were mixologists working all over the room, creating Grey Goose vodka cocktails to pair with every dish served, as well as world-class wines and champagne, from Louis Roederer, Stonestreet, Cambria, Penfolds and more.
And the party kept right on going on Saturday back at the track, this time with a dapper Tony Bennett enjoying the sunny day and belting out a tune or two to the happy crowd. Jerry O'Connell made the trek to the track, too, along with David Krumholtz, Jamie Lynn Sigler, Richie Sambora, Illeana Douglas and "Teen Wolf" costars Colton Haynes and Holland Roden, who all hung out in the Trophy Lounge as the horses thundered by.
And as Fort Larned unexpectedly came in a winner (at 9-1) and took the coveted prize of being the best horse at the Breeders' Cup 2012, everyone seemed to agree with Elizabeth Banks, who said, "the racing, the fashion, the beautiful tracks and the parties - the Breeders' Cup has it all!"
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