See also: Hollywood Park is Shutting Down. Will Horse Racing Be Next?
On the third floor of the Hollywood Park track, under two grand paintings of horse racing scenes, Nola Ferraro sets up bar. With bouncy blond hair and a warm, red-lipsticked smile, she wears her 61 years well. She hauls heavy boxes of booze out of the stockroom, and quickly places pint glasses upside-down below the counter. "I was the first woman bartender at a Southern California racetrack," she says, raising her eyebrows. "I fought coming here for years. I thought race-trackers were lowlifes."
It is early in the day, so races haven't yet begun. Employees report to their various stations - betting windows, security posts, food counters - and greet each other along the way. "Morning, Nola," a small, white-haired woman calls out as she walks through the bar area. "Another day, isn't it?" Nola responds, as the little lady laughs, "Sure is."
But it's not just another day. They're in the first weeks of their last meet -- a series of live thoroughbred races -- before Betfair Hollywood Park closes its doors forever on December 22, becoming the largest track in U.S. history to go dark. It will soon face the wrecking ball, as developers plan to erect a large mixed-use community. More »
"I've worked here for 41 years," Nola says. "As soon as I got here, it felt like home. I love the people. Real die-hards, you know, people who love the sport. I've known generations of families. I knew their grandparents, I knew their parents, and now I know them. And they're good, honest people." She begins a tour of memory, talking through the park's incredible history: