Plenty of variety at Golden Gate Fields 

Golden Gate Fields, which opened in 1941, has a historical horse racing tradition that lives on to this day.

Located along the Bay in Albany — eight miles from downtown Oakland and 11 miles from San Francisco — the track is the only major horse racing venue left in Northern California, with the closing of Bay Meadows in 2008.

The 2010 fall meeting is coming to a close on Dec. 19, but the final two Sundays of the meeting (this week and Dec. 19) will feature $1 specials (general parking, general admission, racing programs, beer, hot dogs and sodas all will be just a dollar apiece) and Golden Gate will show all NFL games.

Golden Gate Fields is often referred to as the “Bay Area’s biggest sports bar” on Sundays with the dollar beers and football broadcasts.

The next meeting, a 104-day racing season, will open Dec. 26 and continue through June 12.

The track is offering a New Year’s Day Dollar Day with some exciting betting opportunities.

“I think everyone should go to Golden Gate Fields on New Year’s Day, place a bet and find out if 2011 is going to be your lucky year,” said Tom Ferrall, publicity manager at Golden Gate Fields. “There are so many economical bets available at the racetrack. You can play a superfecta for a dime, a Pick 4 for 50 cents, or an exacta or trifecta for a dollar.”

The superfecta challenges bettors to pick the top four finishers of a race in exact order. The Pick 4, offered on the first four races and last four races of each card, requires handicappers to pick the winners of four consecutive races. The exacta is a bet in which one tries to correctly pick the first two finishers of a race in exact order. The trifecta requires fans to correctly select the first three finishers of a race in exact order. All of these bets can yield lucrative payoffs.

On Feb. 12, Golden Gate Fields will showcase the El Camino Real Derby, which is an ideal opportunity for some of the top horses to showcase their talent.

“The El Camino Real Derby is Northern California’s steppingstone race for 3-year-olds that have hopes of making it to the Triple Crown events: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes,” Ferrall said. “The 2011 El Camino Real Derby is part of the new Preakness 5.5 bonus program that will reward any horse that wins the El Camino Real Derby, Santa Anita Derby and the Preakness Stakes with a $5.5 million payday [$5 million for the owners and $500,000 for the trainer].”

The Preakness 5.5 bonus was created by Golden Gate Fields’ parent company, MI Developments, which also owns Santa Anita and Pimlico Race Course (home of the Preakness Stakes).

Golden Gate Fields

Phone: (510) 559-7300
Directions From San Francisco: Take Interstate 80 east onto Bay Bridge toward Oakland; for valet parking, take Gilman Street exit; for general parking, take Buchanan Street exit
Check out: Golden Gate Fields will give away 2011 wall calendars on Dec. 26, the opening day of the 2010-11 winter-spring meeting.

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Chris Blake

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