Stronach Group Reveals Permanent Closure Of Golden Gate Fields Racetrack To Focus On Santa Anita Racing
Recently, the Ontario-based Stronach Group revealed that it will officially close Golden Gate Fields racetrack for good this fall, once the last scheduled race at the San Francisco Bay Area racetrack is completed. In addition, the firm bought the racetrack back in 2011.
Reason for closing:
Commenting on the reason for the closure, the Stronach Group said on Sunday that it will “double down on its racing at Santa Anita and training at San Luis Rey Downs in Southern California. After the Golden Gate Fields meet ends, we will focus on moving horses from the Bay Area to Arcadia, with a goal of increasing field sizes and adding a fourth day of racing to the weekly schedule at Santa Anita beginning in January.”
Furthermore, in a statement, the company’s CEO and president Belinda Stronach, said: “The Stronach Group remains steadfastly committed to racing in California. Focusing on Santa Anita Park and San Luis Rey Downs as state-of-the-art racing and training facilities that offer enhanced program quality, increased race days, expanded wagering opportunities, and premier hospitality and entertainment experiences is vital to ensuring that California racing can continue to compete and thrive on a national level.”
Aware of the impact of the decision:
“The company realizes its decision to close the Bay Area track will have profound effects on employees, owners, trainers, jockeys and stable workers there,” according to Belinda Stronach. Also, she added: “The company is committed to honoring labor obligations.”
Therefore, commenting on the impact of the planned closure, the company said: “We would work with industry groups in California, as well as Los Alamitos racetrack in Orange County and Del Mar north of San Diego in relocating horses and employees to Southern California.” In this regard, in a statement, Alan Balch, CEO of the California Thoroughbred Trainers, added: “The ramifications of this Stronach decision will be far-reaching and long-lasting. They will include, we believe, a great many unintended and mainly detrimental consequences for all of racing and Thoroughbred breeding throughout California and the West, including in Southern California. We can only hope that we are entirely wrong.”
Discussion on rescheduling the Golden Gate Fields race dates for 2024:
Scott Chaney, CEO of the California Horse Racing Board, observed that “Golden Gate Fields has been racing nine months out of the year and the board will begin discussing allocating those racing dates in August for 2024.” That’s why he said: “I am acutely aware of the human impact of the closure — be they CHRB employees, CHRB contractors, licensees, and, of course, Golden Gate employees — and I will be working hard to ameliorate any negative consequences and to create job and role opportunities.”
With this closure, Northern California will lose one of the its most iconic racetracks, as Bay Meadows, officially opened in 1934, also closed and developers took control of it in 2008.
Golden Gate Fields, which stretches around the city of Albany and Berkeley along the coast of San Francisco Bay, officially opened in 1941. However, during World War II, the U.S. Navy took control of the racetrack to store landing craft for use in the Pacific theater. As soon as the war ended, racing got back to the property. As for the horses there, there were the 1948 Triple Crown winner Citation, Shared Belief and John Henry, along with come-from-behind specialist Silky Sullivan, who is buried in the infield of the famous track. In addition, the long-running racetrack has been featured in the book and film. The book was Jack Kerouac’s 1957 novel “On the Road,” and the racetrack is mentioned when Sal Paradise visits it with his friend, who loses all their money. Additionally, the movie was the 1997 movie “Metro” starring Eddie Murphy, when his character visits the track to gamble.
Also, now-retired Hall of Famer Baze hit his 10,000th career race at this major racetrack during 2008.
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