California has a rich history of horse racing. In modern times, the key year was 1933, as this was when new legislation made pari-mutual wagering legal in the state.
These days, there are plenty of great options for seeing a few races and betting on them.
Golden Gate Fields
This racing venue in Berkeley is northern California’s only horse racing venue. It sits along San Francisco Bay and the 140-acre site includes both a turf track and a synthetic version.
Perhaps the most enduring legend here is that of Silky Sullivan, who first raced here in 1957 and whose incredible style of coming from far behind to win lingers in the memory of racing fans. Lost in the Fog is a more modern hero, with his 11 wins out of 14 and 2 Breeder’s Cup wins earning him
the privilege of being buried here.
Among the biggest races are the Berkley Handicap and the San Francisco Mile Stakes, as well as the Silky Sullivan Handicap. Spectators get to choose from a particularly wide range of dining options at Golden Gate while watching the action.
Los Alamitos Race Course
This track in Cypress has been running since it was built by Frank Vessels Sr. the 1940s. You can see both thoroughbred and quarter horse events here. In fact, with four quarter horse events worth over $1 million each, we could call it the home of this type of racing.
Back in the 1950s, the quarter horse known as Go Man Go became the track’s first big hero, with huge crowds going along to cheer on this world champion with a big personality. In 2014, a major refurbishment allowed thoroughbred races to be held here, but many people still come here for
the thrilling quarter horse races.
The Vessels Club is a multi-million dollar dining and drinking venue at Los Alamitos that is located in the top level of the grandstand with an unbeatable view of the finish line. Races have been held behind closed doors recently, but it was recently announced that crowds would be allowed back in from April 2, with spectators needing to buy tickets in advance.
Del Mar Racetrack
Located at the Del Mar Fairground by the sea, this is a hugely popular summer destination for racing fans. The season runs from the middle of July through to the start of September with some races in November too, so there is still time for the conditions to be put in place for crowds to be
present this year.
The history of Del Mar goes back to the iconic opening of the track in 1937, with Bing Crosby present. A year later, the famous Seabiscuit romped to victory in a couple of famous races against War Admiral and Ligaroti that are regarded as among the finest races ever seen at Del Mar.
Part of the 2021 season is already lined up, with the TVG Pacific Classic on August 21 and the Breeders’ Cup coming here on November 5-6.
Santa Anita Park
Another of California’s iconic racetracks, Santa Anita is located in Arcadia and plays hosts to some high-profile races throughout the year. Among the biggest events here are the Sanita Anita Derby, which was part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby in 2020, and the Santa Anita Handicap.
Movie mogul Hal Roach was among the group who got this venue built in 1933, making it California’s long-established racetrack. The first running of the Santa Anita Handicap, in 1935, saw the biggest prize in American horse racing history with a $100,000 purse. This was where Seabiscuit ran his last race too, winning the 1940 Santa Anita Handicap.
Stars like Cary Grant, Betty Grable, and Jane Russell came to enjoy some racing in the past, with a lot of movies shot here. These days, a trip to Santa Anita or any of the other racetracks in California remains a popular way to enjoy a day out and some betting.
Here you have it, the most famous racecourses in California. And if you like horse racing, check out free horse racing picks by twinspires.com here.
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