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Monday, September 16, 2013
Angels

By Jay Cronley
Special to ESPN.com

Los Angeles is the perfect site for the Breeder's Cup because most everybody in that city is an actor who could stand a winner, same as the average horse player.

In L.A., you can't tell the producers from the Realtors, the "Real" housewives of TV fame from women from outer space, the starlets from the gypsies, the actors in vampire flicks from the tour guides, the studio VP's from the party planners, the writers from the Dumpster divers.

Sometimes all you can tell for sure out there is who has had a face done, the contemporary version of Munch's "The Scream," those expressions of insecurity frozen in time, those lips of steel.

People who win big in L.A. frequently take their profits and head for the hills, or taller landscapes, and have spreads at Jackson Hole, leaving behind a city of opportunity for the young locusts, and for the Jimmy Rockfords and J. J. Gettises of the world, people looking to break into, or back into, the biggest times.

Perception is reality. So are cliches. And still they come from the sticks looking for enough fame and fortune to drive anybody nuts; but what a way to go.

The first Breeder's Cup was held in L.A. at Hollywood Park when Wild Again blasted through on the rail, like one of the CHIPS cops chasing a convertible on the 405, to win the Classic.

The first Breeder's Cup was held in L.A. at Hollywood Park when Wild Again blasted through on the rail, like one of the CHIPS cops chasing a convertible on the 405, to win the Classic. Wild Again lived to be 28. Hollywood Park will live to be 75 and will close forever a few days before Christmas. You'd think that three race tracks (including Los Alamitos) in a town without one pro football team was pushing it. After this one, nine of the 30 Breeder's Cup spectacles will have been held in L.A. Evidently racing executives have come to appreciate perfect weather over the possibility of a chilly rain elsewhere, so next year's Breeder's Cup will return to Santa Anita for the third year in a row, enraging those back east wishing to charge $750 a night for a room in a place that's a candidate for a Hotel Impossible episode.

Everybody has a great L.A. story. Here's mine.

Once I was sued for around $25 million over the movie rights to something I had written. The law suit was directed primarily at my agent, who stood accused of wheeling and dealing outside the boundaries of a contract. Arriving in town for this big fat mess, I had about $250 and a credit card to my good name.

There was a stipulation in the law that gave anybody beyond a certain age priority over even the axe murderers. A producer also being sued was 70-something. So we went directly to the list of hot issues ready for trial. Even so, the courts in Los Angeles were so backed up, all parties were given beepers. After being beeped, we had to be in court in two hours. I was beeped at Hollywood Park, where else.

Given the likelihood of a lengthy trial, I checked into a place that walked the line between being a tastefully decadent boutique residence hotel, and a dump. Cracks in the walls and water marks had been artfully covered by wraps of blazing bougainvillea, and cigarette burns on the counters had over them big vases of striking Strelitzia (birds of paradise).

The man carrying my bags to a corner "suite" that was basically over a busy intersection, where, because of all the convertibles, you could hear conversations through all hours involving people stopped at red lights, said that I would love the accommodation.

The man who worked for the tastefully decadent (barely) residence hotel put my bags on the bed and pointed to a chair by a window and said this suite was so highly regarded from a historic perspective because a comedian had been shot dead right there. A wife or girlfriend had killed the comedian, one of the two. It had happened quite a while back. And, of course, and obviously, the suite had long since been redecorated several times over.

I dragged a sofa to the farthest point from the tourist attraction and slept there, getting a different suite two days later.

The trial lasted almost a month. Multi-millions were at stake. Rich people wound up settling out of court. When it was over, it was just like the horse races in L.A., you couldn't tell the winners from the losers. Everybody is an actor in the weather to the angels.