Golden Gate Fields, located near Berkeley in the San Francisco Bay area, has been a Northern California racing institution since 1941. The track has been the lone host of major Thoroughbred racing in the area since the closing of Bay Meadows in 2008.
Golden Gate Fields, which opened its 101-day 2011-2012 winter/spring meet Dec. 26, is looking to build on the momentum of a strong 2011 fall meet that ended Dec. 18 with double-digit increases in both daily on-track handle and daily on-track attendance.
For the just-concluded 36-day meet, Golden Gate had a daily on-track handle of $392,821, a 13.86 percent increase from 2010; while the average daily on-track attendance of 2,226 was up 12.77 percent from last year’s corresponding meet.
With the increase in business, track officials have bumped purses of all races by two percent for the winter/spring meet.
Golden Gate Fields is home to the all-time winningest jockey in Thoroughbred racing history—Russel Baze (10,000+ wins and counting)—along with several major stakes races. Three-year-olds looking to make the Triple Crown can prep in races such as the Grade 3, $200,000 El Camino Real and Grade 3, $100,000 California Derby.
The California Derby will be run Jan. 14 this year and the El Camino Real Derby will be contested Feb. 18.
Many of racing’s greatest horses have competed at Golden Gate Fields, including 1948 Triple Crown winner Citation; the great gelding from the 1980’s, John Henry; and Lost in the Fog, who would become one of the most accomplished sprinters in the country during the middle of the last decade.
Golden Gate features a synthetic main track, known as Tapeta Footings, which is considered one of the best and most consistent artificial surfaces in the country. It was installed in 2007 following a mandate by the California Horse Racing Board that all major tracks in the state have a synthetic main track, which at the time was being promoted as a safer alternative to a traditional dirt track.
Golden Gate, which sits on more than 140 acres of land, has seating for more than 15,000 patrons and stall space to accommodate more than 1,420 horses.
Top trainers at Golden Gate Fields year-in and year-out include Hall of Fame conditioner Jerry Hollendorfer, Steve Sherman, William E. Morey, Steve Specht and Steve Miyadi.
Golden Gate’s 101-day winter/spring meet runs through June 17.