Jump to: navigation, search

Golden Gate Fields

Golden Gate Fields
Official website
Location Berkeley, California, United States
Coordinates Coordinates: Template:Coord/input/dms
Owned by Magna Entertainment Corp.
Date opened 1941
Course type Thoroughbred flat racing
Notable Races San Francisco Mile Stakes
Golden Gate Derby

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 racetrack in Northern California.

The track is set on Template:Convert/acres 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 approximately 8,000 customers, a clubhouse with seating for approximately 5,200 customers, a Turf Club with seating for approximately 1,500 customers and parking for over 8,500 cars.

Owned and managed for 25 years by foreign car importer and horseman Kjell Qvale, Golden Gate Fields is now part of the Magna Entertainment Corp. (who also own Santa Anita Park and the San Luis Rey Downs Training Center in Bonsall, California).



Golden Gate Fields held its inaugural meet on February 1, 1941. The 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 Domingo Peralta. He sold it in July of 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 black powder, dynamite and nitroglycerin. Between 1879 and 1892, the plant blew up four times.

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 "Albany Naval Landing Force Equipment Depot" for storing hundreds of landing craft destined for use in the Pacific theater. After the war, Golden Gate Fields resumed horse racing.

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.

In 1974, the first $2 million dollar 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.

From 2001 to 2004, Golden Gate Fields was the home track for the Grade III El Camino Real Derby, before returning the race back to Bay Meadows.

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.

The multiple Graded stakes winning Hystericalady, half sister to Funny Cide and Commentator, is based here.

With the loss of Bay Meadows to developers in 2008, Golden Gate Fields has become Northern California's only major racetrack (aside from racetracks that host the summer fair circuit). Its stakes schedule (graded and ungraded) is in flux[when?] as officials of California racing shuffle the racing season. Golden Gate Fields may return to offering both Spring and Autumn racing[when?], with more racing dates. On May 2, 2009, the Silky Sullivan Handicap ran again after a hiatus of two years.


In December of 2008, it was reported that Magna Entertainment, the owner of Golden Gate Fields, was in serious financial difficulties and had hired a law firm specializing in bankruptcies and reorganization.[1] In March 2009, Magna filed for bankruptcy, saying that racing would be unaffected.[2]


AC Transit, the local bus agency, provides a seasonal bus service, line 304, between the track and North Berkeley BART station.[3] 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, runs to the north and south edge of the track, but does not go through, leaving a gap.

Racing events

Golden Gate Fields is home to the following graded stakes:

  • Grade 3 Yerba Buena Handicap
  • Grade 3 Golden Gate Fields Turf, 4 Year Olds and up, 1 mile and 3/8ths (11 furlongs), $100,000g, turf.

It hosts numerous overnight handicaps and ungraded stakes events.

  • Alcatraz Stakes, 3 year olds, eight and a half furlongs, turf, $75,000
  • Tanforan Stakes, 3 Year Olds and up, one mile and 3/8, turf. $75,000
  • Miss America Stakes, Fillies and mares, 3 Year Olds and up, one mile and 1/8, turf. $75,000
  • Corte Madera Stakes, 2 Year Old Fillies, one mile. $75,000
  • Raise Your Skirts, 4 Year Olds and up, Fillies & Mares, 6 furlongs, $75,000.
  • Sausalito Stakes, 3 Year Olds and up, six furlongs. $75,000
  • Forty Niner Stakes, 3 Year Olds and up, one mile and 1/16. $75,000
  • Campanile Stakes, Fillies and mares, 4 Year Old and up, one mile and 1/16. $75,000
  • Stinson Beach Stakes, 3 Year Olds, six furlongs. $50,000
  • Oakland Stakes, 3 Year Olds and up, six furlongs. $75,000
  • Golden Poppy, 3 Year Old Fillies, 1 mile and 1/16th on the turf. $75,000.
  • Golden Gate Fields Sprint, 4 Year Olds & Up, 6 furlongs, $75,000.
  • Work the Crowd, 4 Year Olds & Up, Fillies & Mares (Cal-bred), 1 mile and 1/16th, $75,000.
  • Silveyville Stakes, 1 and 1/16th mile, $73,500
  • Golden Nugget Stakes, $50,000

TV personalites

  • Sam Spear (1978-present)

Pop culture references

  • Punk rock band Rancid wrote and performed the song "GGF", about lead singer Tim Armstrong's childhood near Golden Gate Fields, on their 2000 self-titled album.

Notes and references

  • A Selective History of the Codornices-University Village..., by Warren and Catherine Lee, Imprint (Albuquerque, N.M.): Belvidere Delaware Railroad Company Enterprises, Ltd., (2000).

External links


Premier Equine Classifieds


Subscribe to our newsletter and keep abreast of the latest news, articles and information delivered directly to your inbox.

Did You Know?

Modern horse breeds developed in response to a need for "form to function", the necessity to develop certain physical characteristics in order to perform a certain type of work... More...

The Gypsy Cob was originally bred to be a wagon horse and pulled wagons or caravans known as Vardos; a type of covered wagon that people lived in... More...

Archaeological evidence indicates that the Arabian horse bloodline dates back 4,500 years. Throughout history, Arabian horses spread around the world by both war and trade.... More...

That the term "Sporthorse" is a term used to describe a type of horse rather than any particular breed... More...