The Thoroughbred Racing Walk of Champions was dedicated in the historic downtown of the City of Arcadia on Sept. 27, 2014, as a permanent acknowledgement of the significant role horse racing has played in not only the city’s storied past, but also its promising future.
The first Santa Anita Park (racetrack) in Arcadia was founded in 1907 by the city’s first mayor and largest landowner, Elias Jackson “Lucky” Baldwin. Today’s Santa Anita Park opened on Christmas Day, 1934, on land purchased from Lucky Baldwin’s daughter Anita, just a furlong or two from the original site at today’s Santa Anita Golf Course.
The Walk of Champions honors the historic records of outstanding horses, jockeys, trainers, owners and other key figures not just of Santa Anita fame, but encompassing the entire state of California. No hoofprints or handprints adorn downtown sidewalks in the manner of the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but the accomplishments of 69 “Cornerstone Champions” have instead been engraved on 24″ x 24″ informational bronze plaques.
Plaques for the 2015-2016 inductees to the Thoroughbred Racing Walk of Champions are being installed along Huntington Drive near First Avenue. These inductees are Joe Burnham, thoroughbred racing’s foremost cinematographer, and Ellwood “Buddy” Johnston, second-generation owner/breeder of Old English Rancho. Also trainers Gary F. Jones, Ron McAnally, Mike R. Mitchell and Mel Stute, as well as jockey Chris McCarron. Thoroughbreds being honored are Lava Man and Zenyatta.
Seven inductees were added in 2014, among them “living legend” jockeys Laffit Pincay Jr. and Eddie Delahoussaye, plus Hall of Fame champion horses Silver Charm, Serena’s Song and Tiznow. Each ensuing year will add to the list of champions honored with bronze plaques, and history will be made with each addition.
Lucky Baldwin and his prized champion Emperor of Norfolk are among the “Cornerstone” elite, and descendants of Baldwin racing stock continue to run today — notables include several with bronze plaques already on the current Walk plus incredible equines such as California Chrome and American Pharoah destined to be added in bronze once their achievements are set into the historic record.
The Arcadia Historical Society greatly appreciates any donation made in support of this educational outreach effort. The Society is a not-for-profit 501(c) (3), and contributions are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
Donations may be made via PayPal or by check (Arcadia Historical Society, Walk of Champions. PO Box 661332, Arcadia, CA. 91066-1332).