Golden Gate Fields

Last updated
Golden Gate Fields
Golden Gate Fields infield.jpg
Location Berkeley, California, United States
Coordinates Coordinates: 37°53′06″N122°18′40″W / 37.88500°N 122.31111°W / 37.88500; -122.31111
Owned by The Stronach Group
Date opened1941
Course type Thoroughbred flat racing
Notable races San Francisco Mile Stakes
Golden Gate Derby
Berkeley Handicap
Official website

Golden Gate Fields is an American horse racing track straddling both Albany, California and Berkeley, California along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay adjacent to the Eastshore Freeway in the San Francisco Bay Area. With the closing of the Bay Meadows racetrack on May 11, 2008, it became the only major thoroughbred racetrack in Northern California. It is currently owned by The Stronach Group.


The track is set on 140 acres (0.57 km2) of land in the cities of Albany and Berkeley. Golden Gate Fields' facilities currently include a one-mile (1,609 m) synthetic track and a turf course measuring 9/10 of a mile, or 7 furlongs plus 132 feet (1,448 m), stalls for 1,420 horses, a main grandstand with seating for about 8,000 customers, a clubhouse with seating for about 5,200 customers, a Turf Club with seating for about 1,500 customers and parking for over 8,500 cars. The synthetic track is called Tapeta and was installed in the summer of 2007.


Golden Gate racetrack is situated on a tract of land bordered on the west by Fleming Point, a rocky promontory which lies on the eastern shoreline of San Francisco Bay. On the north, it is bordered by the Albany Bulb, Albany Beach and Albany Plateau, undeveloped terrain over a former landfill, owned by the City of Albany. To the east is Interstate 80 and to the south, the Berkeley Meadow. This tract lies on what was once a part of the slough into which three creeks drain: Schoolhouse Creek, Codornices Creek and Marin Creek. The tract had originally been that portion of the Rancho San Antonio owned by José Domingo Peralta. He sold it in July 1852 to John Fleming, who used it as a transhipment point for sending his cattle across the bay to San Francisco for slaughter and processing. Later in the 19th century, it was the site of the Giant Powder Company, a manufacturer of dynamite and nitroglycerin. Between 1879 and 1892, the plant blew up twice.

Competitive horse racing in this part of the East Bay originated with the Oakland Trotting Track about 2 miles south of the site of Golden Gate Fields, in what is now Emeryville. The Oakland Trotting Track was open from 1871 until it was forced to close in 1911 when the state banned horse racing. A fire in 1915 destroyed what remained of its structures. In 1933, the state repealed the ban on horse racing. [1]

Just before World War II, Golden Gate Fields built its new grandstand up against the eastern slope of Fleming Point, and adjacent marshland was filled in for the track. The inaugural meet was on February 1, 1941. In the period just before the war, the track was used as the scene of the crime central to the plot of the movie Shadow of the Thin Man .

With the onset of World War II, the United States Navy took over the property as the Naval Landing Force Equipment Depot, Albany for storing hundreds of landing craft destined for use in the Pacific theater. [2] After the war, Golden Gate Fields resumed horse racing.

Golden Gate Fields was owned and managed for 25 years by San Francisco foreign car importer and horseman Kjell Qvale. In 1989, Golden Gate Fields was acquired by UK-based Ladbroke Racing. [3] It was later acquired in 1999 by Magna Entertainment Corp., as Ladbroke wanted to divest of its non-European holdings. In March 2009, Magna filed for bankruptcy. The Stronach Group, the current owners, acquired Golden Gate Fields on July 3, 2011.

Golden Gate made history in 2016 when it hired 29-year-old Angela Hermann as its track announcer, succeeding Michael Wrona. Hermann was the first full-time female race caller in the United States since Ann Elliott worked in the 1960s at Jefferson Downs near New Orleans. [4] [5]

Currently 28 year old Matt Dinerman is the race announcer and track handicapper at Golden Gate Fields.[ citation needed ]


Horses and jockeys before a race at Golden Gate Fields Horses and their jockeys at Golden Gate Fields.jpg
Horses and jockeys before a race at Golden Gate Fields

In 1950, Citation and Noor met in the Golden Gate Handicap. The English bred Noor beat the great Triple Crown winner Citation, prompting Citation's rider, Steve Brooks, to say, "We just can't beat that horse."

In 1957, the horse Silky Sullivan came to the track and with him came the excitement that followed him throughout his life. Until the death of Lost in the Fog, he was also the only horse to be buried in the infield. Lost in the Fog's plaque is the third to be placed at Golden Gate Fields, found near the one for Silky Sullivan and that for Bill Shoemaker.

The infield turf course was opened on February 22, 1972.

A race on turf in 2017 GGF Race4a.jpg
A race on turf in 2017

In 1974, the first $2 million day in Northern California was held on California Derby Day.

In 1984, the great gelding John Henry set a course record winning the Golden Gate Handicap.

Before his death in 2006, Lost in the Fog was based here. On September 17, 2006, he was euthanized due to inoperable tumors found on his spleen and along his spine. Prior to his early death, Lost in the Fog ran three races at his home base  winning twice, and placing once. On September 30, 2006 Golden Gate Fields held a celebration of his life.

During the summer of 2007, the racetrack installed a polymer synthetic type racing surface as mandated by the California Horse Racing Board. The Tapeta Footings synthetic all-weather racing surface is designed to make racing safer for both horses and riders.

On February 1, 2008, on board the horse Two Step Cat, Russell Baze got his 10,000th career win as a jockey. Baze won 54 riding titles and a total of 5,765 races at Golden Gate Fields during his career. [6]

Shared Belief, the Champion 2-year-old colt of 2013, was based at the track and won several races there. [7]

With the loss of Bay Meadows to developers in 2008, Golden Gate Fields has become Northern California's only major racetrack (aside from the racetracks associated with the summer fair circuit). The California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) sets the specific racing dates each year, but there is customarily a long winter/spring meet running from late December to mid June, and a fall meet running from mid October to mid December. [8] Starting in 2010, a summer meet was added with dates based around the summer fair circuit. [9] On June 15, 2016, the CHRB presented a proposed 2017 calendar that would eliminate the summer meet. [10]


AC Transit, the local public transit agency, provided a seasonal bus service, line 304, between the track and North Berkeley BART station until 2008. [11] The track is also accessible from the Gilman Street and Albany exits of the Eastshore Freeway, as well as from adjacent city streets. The San Francisco Bay Trail, a bicycle and walking path passes between the bay and the stands. [12] . In 2009 East Shore Charter Lines was contracted to provide the racetrack with a new free service from the BART station. [13]

Racing events

The following Graded events were held at Golden Gate Fields in 2020.

Grade III

The following are black type listed stakes:

It hosts numerous overnight handicaps and ungraded stakes events.

Pop culture references

Notes and references

  1. Oakland Trotting Park localwiki
  2. California Military History Online
  3. Reuters (1989-01-09). "Ladbroke Buys Race Track". The New York Times. ISSN   0362-4331 . Retrieved 2019-04-23.
  4. Dybdal, Chuck (2 May 2016). "Golden Gate Fields hires Angela Hermann as race-caller". Daily Racing Form . Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  5. Thornton, T.D. (4 May 2016). "The Forgotten Legacy of Ann Elliott". Thoroughbred Daily News . Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  6. "Baze, All-Time Winning Rider, Retires". Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  7. "Shared Belief Returns To Races Triumphantly". Retrieved 22 June 2016.[ permanent dead link ]
  8. "2009 Racing Schedule". Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  9. "2010 Racing Schedule". Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  10. "CHRB Discusses 2017 Racing Dates". Retrieved 22 June 2016.
  11. Special Bus to Golden Gate Fields 10/18/05 AC Transit Marketing, Retrieved 4/24/07
  12. Bay trail segment completed
  13. Free Shuttle schedule [ permanent dead link ]

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