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Remembering Hollywood Park

Remembering Hollywood Park

Historic Hollywood Park

Historic Hollywood Park

Two legs of the Triple Crown have been completed, and California Chrome is poised to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978. This seems an appropriate moment to pause and remember the beautiful track where California Chrome first trained – Hollywood Park, in Inglewood, CA. The seventy-five year history of this exquisite racing venue came to a close at the end of the 2013 season, on December 21. We thought readers of our Riders Up series, set in the horse racing industry, would enjoy a photo tour of the facility.

My husband and I were fortunate to finally visit this track in person last November 15, a few weeks before its demise. Crowds were thin – part of the reason it closed is the popularity of off-track betting with those who follow the horses. But the venue still shone with its historic Hollywood glamor, at least to us. Hollywood Park PaddockIn addition to California Chrome, Hollywood Park was the training home of Seabiscuit, Citation, Swaps, Native Diver, Lava Man, Cigar, Zenyatta, and I’ll Have Another. Hallowed ground, for us. Here’s the paddock area – I’ll let you envision those famous horses saddling up as you stand at the paddock rails watching.

Several thrills for the day:

BHP TVG Hollywood ParkMeeting the TVG staff and getting my picture taken with them (Todd Schrupp, Paul Lo Duca, Simon Bray). We’ve been following the TVG network since 2000, shortly after its beginning, so we feel as though we “know” them, even though they’d never met us before. We’d be TVG network members if we could, but we live in Nevada, where it’s not permitted.

Having a chat with the Hollywood Park bugler, Jay Cohen, also the bugler for Santa Anita and Del Mar, so we learned he isn’t out of a job with Hollywood Park closing. He roams the crowds between calling horses to the post, and we enjoyed his occasional additional solos.BHP Hollywood Park Bugler Jay Cohen

BHP Call to Post

Call to Post

Seeing trainer Bob Baffert in person – totally recognizable with his shock of white hair. We watched his horse Infosec win a $30,000 claiming race and got to see him in the winner’s circle. Unbeknownst to us, Infosec was claimed in that race, and moved to Golden Gate Field under trainer Frank Lucarelli; he ran third to California Chrome’s win in the California Derby this spring

Trainer Bob Baffert and Infosec in the Winner's Circle

Trainer Bob Baffert and Infosec in the Winner’s Circle

And of course watching the races, cheering for our choices and reaping the benefits of hubby’s handicapping skills. We had a good day :).

Approaching the Finish Line

Approaching the Finish Line

Of course, you don’t have to own horses or visit a track (though we hope you do!) to experience the thrill of the race – Books One and Two in our Riders Up series are now available in Kindle format at Amazon:



Riders Up

Book One

Cassie’s Hope

High stakes, a fiery Irish redhead, her stunning racehorse, and a fiercely loyal rancher

BUY LINK  Amazon






Riders Up

Book Two

Heat Wave

Hang onto the land–but at what cost? Feisty widow hires ace racehorse trainer to salvage her family’s heritage. Can they survive escalating threats to life and limb?

BUY LINK  Amazon


Garden in the Desert

I’ve never lived in the desert before, but I’m coming to love it.

Sunday a college friend who lives here in Tucson invited me to brunch at the Tohono Chul Bistro – a delightful component of the Tohono Chul Gardens. After delicious omelets and sangria tea (fruit juice and tea, minus the alcohol 🙂 ), she guided me through the gardens, where she’s spent many hours writing and meditating.

Tohono Chul garden is  listed by National Geographic Traveler as one of the top 22 Secret Gardens in the U.S. and Canada, and I can see why. Designed to be a place where nature, art and culture connect, it is exquisite – and it was in bloom.







Baseball is Here!

At our house, there’s always a layer of sadness after the last crack of the bat in the final World Series game every fall – no more baseball, for months. A Wisconsin boy who grew up with the Milwaukee Braves, hubs is a baseball fan, through and through, and he’s taught me so much about how to watch the game that I’ve come to love it, too.

Every February we’d watch for word about when the pitchers were headed to Spring Training, and then we’d eagerly follow our teams and await the season opening. Which teams? That’s varied some, depending on where we lived. When we met, he lived a mere three blocks south of Chicago’s Wrigley Field, and we were Cubs fans. Those were the days when you could make a split-second decision on a lazy weekday afternoon (no lights, no evening games in those days) and walk over to the game – and find seats, and not spend hundreds of dollars to see a game.

When we moved to Minnesota, and later, to Iowa, we followed the Twins. Now that we’re out west, we miss Bert Blyleven’s familiar voice and the after-game on-field strategy lessons put together by the Twins broadcasting crew.

But our “back-up” team has always been the Milwaukee Brewers, partly out of Wisconsin loyalty, and especially because of my husband’s mother. Widowed for the last decade of her life, she organized her days around those Brewers and  never missed a televised game. As her mobility decreased and her social network shrank, those players were her “friends.” She followed their stories, cheered for them, and shouted at the manager when she thought he ought to have done something different.

So it was a special treat for us on Monday to take in a spring training game in Phoenix and watch the Brewers battle the Cubs. They lost, but that didn’t even matter – we saw some of those “friends” in person.

I wish she could have been with us at the game – I kept wanting to call her up and tell her we were watching Ryan Braun, who got two hits and scored once, bringing his batting average to .800. Carlos Gomez (a former Twin) was another of her favorites. Ryan at bat is featured in these two photos.


We don’t often write team sports into our fiction – probably because, outside of my husband’s high school baseball career, neither of us has played them. But here’s a little taste of some softball that crept into one of our favorite stories:

Can the immortal love goddess Aria heal not one,
but two traumatized hearts—and if she succeeds,
will those hearts open to each other?


At the sound of the crack of the bat and cheers from the bleachers, Jeff stopped to watch the speedy batter dash for first base. She wasn’t tall, but she sure was quick. She never hesitated rounding first but dug in for second, the ponytail sticking through her red ball cap bouncing recklessly.

He glanced quickly at the left fielder, who picked up the groundball cleanly. It was going to be close. The runner dove in headfirst just ahead of the tag.

When the ump called her safe, the runner rose nimbly to her feet and brushed off the front of her jeans and tee. She smiled at her cheering teammates.

“Way to go, Amber!”

“That a girl!”

“You rock, Amber!”

Jeff gasped when the base-runner pushed back her ball cap to straighten her ponytail. It was her—his mystery woman, the girl he couldn’t get out of his mind the past two weeks. The woman who had failed to come back to the deli.

He gave her a big wave.

He knew she saw him. But did she recognize him? Did she want to? He saw her scowl and then lift a hand just above her waist. That was hardly a hearty wave, but he’d accept it for a sign of recognition.

“Come on, Conway,” bellowed Jeff’s teammate. “Stop ogling the babes. We can’t be late for the game. Coach will be pissed as hell if we aren’t there to take the field.”

“I’m coming,” Jeff said, reluctantly starting to move. Their diamond was three down from this one. Maybe she’d drop by to check him out after her game finished.

Walking briskly away, Jeff put his game face on. He grinned. At least she had a name. Amber.


Traumatized by the boyfriend from hell, Amber Heath makes a desperate plea for help—and is shocked when the immortal love goddess Aria materializes and whisks her away to a nineteenth century Carnivale.

Jeff Conway is still reeling from his fiancé’s betrayal and not about to risk his heart. But he’s more than willing to play with the spunky sprite Aria brings to meet him at Carnivale.

Sometimes watching, sometimes joining in, and always coaching, Aria launches Amber and Jeff on an erotic journey back to health and playfulness. But even the love goddess can’t force them to love each other.







© 2020 Adriana Kraft. All Rights Reserved.
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