Horse racing embodies what a lot of Americans really want from sports: outdoor yelling, large beers, readily accessible gambling and participants who can be shot if they underperform. There is no venue in California that has been offering those perks for as long as Santa Anita Park. The oldest still-functioning racetrack has picturesque views of the San Gabriel Mountains and warm enough temperatures to open the day after Christmas (Let's see Saratoga try and do that!). But there's plenty to do at Santa Anita Park Opening Day even for those who don't like the ponies. The place is an art deco marvel full of intricate details and gorgeous, horse-themed photo opportunities. And if that isn't enough, the Santa Anita Mall is right next door. Black Thursday, anyone? Santa Anita Park, 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia; Thurs., Dec. 26, noon; $5-$10. (626) 574-7223,

Thu., Dec. 26, noon, 2013

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