Golden Gate Fields is a horse racing track in the San Francisco Bay area in California. The track is across the Bay from San Francisco, along the shoreline near the eastshore freeway, and takes up 154 acres of land in both Berkeley and Albany. Formerly a marshland, the area the racetrack now rests upon was owned by farmers and merchants before the construction of the racetracks in the late 1930s. While the United States was involved in World War II, the land was used by the Navy for storage of landing craft.
Famous Races at Golden Gate Fields
Many famous races occurred at this track outside San Francisco. In 1950, the horses Citation and Noor competed, with Noor overtaking Citation. Noor was a legendary horse that competed internationally and who ended up besting Citation four out of the five times that they raced against each other. Citation was a largely popular American-bred horse that was one of the best in the country. Upon losing the race, Steve Brooks, Citation's jockey, pronounced that Noor just couldn't be beat.
Silky Sullivan was another legendary horse that often competed at the Fields, and is one of the only horses to be buried there. Silky was known for a come-from-behind racing style in which he would best his competitors in the last minutes of the race. A more recent legendary horse and the only other one buried at the Fields is Lost in the Fog, who passed in 2006. Lost in the Fog was favored in almost every race he ran and was based at the Fields as well.
Other notable events include the first $2 Million day in 1974 in Northern California being held here on California Derby Day and the gelding John Henry set a course record winning the Golden Gate Derby at the Fields ten years later in 1984.
Visiting the Racetrack
No visit to San Francisco would be complete without a visit to the track, especially for those who love gambling, horse races or horses in general. As the motto of the facility says, the Fields are "where the Bay comes to play." Visiting the Fields is simple. Accessible by car and public transportation, there are also several hotels very close to the area. The San Francisco Bay Trail, a trail for walkers and bikers, also connects through the Fields.
Golden Gate Fields also contains many places to eat with a variety of cuisines to choose from. The track features a pub, an Italian restaurant, a barbecue and meat carving dining spots. Many people go to the Fields even when a race isn't on. The premiere dining venue here is The Turf Club Restaurant. With beautiful views of the Bay area, specialty seafood, an upscale casual dress code and a nice selection of beer and wines, eating here is a part of the experience of this racetrack by the Bay.
For the economically conservative, the fields are also a great spot for specials. The "Dollar Days" are a popular event that are held periodically. During Dollar Days, nearly everything from parking, hot dogs, admission, beer, soda is just one dollar. Many social events are also held at the tracks, and individuals can event rent the facility if they wish to hold an event of their own at the Fields.
Gambling at the Fields
As with all horse racing venues, gambling is a very popular past-time at the Fields racetrack. The fields have expanded this popular activity by allowing people to bid and bet on horse races online, most with a modest one or two dollar minimum bet. Unlike other facilities, the Fields does not house other forms of gambling other than horse racing.
The Racetrack Experience
With all the amenities available, Golden Gate Fields is a popular place for fans of horse racing to come together and wine, dine and cheer on their favorite horses (or the ones they've put their cash on). Currently owned by the Magna Entertainment Corp, a company who also owns Santa Anita Park, this racetrack is accessible to the Bay area as a place to observe and play. It is one of the best things to do in San Francisco. In addition, this track is currently the only major racetrack in Northern California.