Week 7

Day 40 Sunday, September 11

Del MarDel Mar

Week seven starts off in sunny San Diego, California. We are now about as far as we can get from our first live track at Presque Isle, Maine, so for all practical purpose were on the way back home. We're not exactly at the half way point for tracks, so still a lot of miles to go. One caveat to mention "keep an eye on that gas gauge" were heading for some places off the beaten path, where gas stations might be scarce. This morning were taking a short ride from San Diego to where the turf meets the surf, Del Mar Race Track. Del Mar is to California is what Saratoga is to New York, the summer place to be. More poor planning the season ended last Monday, again a little late. Hopefully there's some simulcast going on and we can get a look inside. Since the demise of Hollywood Park, Del Mar has added The Bing Crosby Meet, held later in the year. Next year Del Mar will celebrate it's eighty year anniversary.   After we're done here we head up I-5 to Cypress, for a rare afternoon, evening double header.

Los AlamitosLos Alamitos

After about an hour and a half from Del Mar we find ourselves at Los Alamitos, the track that profited the most with the closing of Hollywood Park. Racing at Los Alamitos started in 1947, with informal match races, until 1951 when a grandstand was constructed and pari-mutual racing began. Known for years as the premier place for quarter horse racing in the country, but hit the big time with the closing of two Southern California tracks. Los Alamitos races short spring and winter meets, part of the Hollywood Park schedule and also acquired the dates that were run at Fairplex, as part of the Los Angeles County Fair, which is the meet we are attending. As part of the transition the original five eights mile oval was converted to one mile. You may not have noticed but if you see a race track scene on television, or the movies chances are it was filmed here. So enjoy this rare day, we start with the thoroughbreds and end up the day with quarter horses. Tomorrow we can try to find two elusive Los Angeles legends, Hollywood Park and the Hollywood Sign.

Day 40 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 102 51.00 120.00
Total 10,334 5,527.00 5,465.00

Day 41 Monday, September 12


Today we just stay around the Los Angeles area, no live racing but we have three stops to make. Our first stop will be in Pomona, about an hour from Anaheim, where we stayed and will again tonight. Pomona is the site of The Los Angeles County Fairgrounds, which started racing in 1922 and was the first California track to provide pari-mutual racing in 1933. Originally know as Pomona, the tracks name was later changed to Fairplex and in it's last season Barrett's. Ironically were here within the three week window when racing would be going on, if the track were still open. The last races here were in 2013, before moving to Los Alamitos, which is what we attended yesterday. When you get here it takes some walking to get to the grandstand, which is not visible from the road or parking lot. When done here were off to Arcadia and that famous view of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Santa AnitaSanta Anita Park

I'm pretty sure we all know were headed to historic Santa Anita Park, I don't think a nationally televised race here ever went off without the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains in the background. Opened in 1934, Santa Anita is the last Los Angeles area track still in operation from that era. I guess this would be the Belmont Park of the West Coast, a perfectly maintained facility with classic racing. The sprawling facility retains a lot of it's old charm, while keeping up with modern technology. Hopefully their simulcasting and the track will be open so we can at least take a tour. Don't forget to go to the backside of the track to get a close up view of that downhill turf course. From here were off to Inglewood and a much sadder story.

HollywoodHollywood Park

It was November 7, 1984, Hollywood Park was on top of the racing world as the horses for the first Breeders Cup Race were being loaded in the gate. Looking down the stretch the Fabulous Forum dominated the skyline, the home of the mighty  Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Kings, things were good in Inglewood. Fast forward to today and the Forum is still standing, maybe not as fabulous with both the Lakers and Kings gone on to other venues, and grand old Hollywood Park has been pulverized. After seventy five years of horse racing memories the land became more valuable than the track, so lights out. I don't think there's much here to see except a big hole in the ground, they didn't waste any time taking it down. At least the Forum is still here, so you'll know your in the right place. Like Foxboro Park in New England, Hollywood Park will stay in the sports world, as the new stadium for The Los Angeles Rams, will be it's headstone.

For myself I'm heading back to the hotel in Anaheim, the Angels are in town so I'm going to catch a ball game, but there's still time to find the Hollywood Sign if you can. Tomorrow we head for Northern California and some fair circuit tracks.        

Day 41 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 134 167.00 200.00
Total 10,468 5,694.00 5,665.00

Day 42 Tuesday, September 13

FresnoBig Fresno Fair

Today we head north on I-5, before turning of on Route 99 for the three and a half hour ride to Fresno, our first stop in the Northern California area. Were either to late, or to early for any of the fair tracks, but we will get a day of racing at Golden Gate Fields, that will probably be the last live card we see before we cross the Mississippi River. Racing at the Big Fresno Fair has been around since 1935, this years races wont be run until October, with nine days of racing on tap. There's no free lunch at the fairs, so expect to pay for parking and admission if you do make it to a live event. No guarantee if we can get on the grounds but hopefully we can get close enough for a good look. Next we'll continue up Route 99 toward Stockton.

StocktonStockton Fair

About two hours after leaving Fresno we should arrive in Stockton, where we will find the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds, the site of California Fair Racing since 1934. This year eight days of racing are set to begin in ten days, so there should be some activity going on and the grounds might be open? Most of the California Fair sites seem to have some sort of Off Track Betting facility on the grounds, so we can at least place a bet or two. When were done were back on Route 99 for the final stop of the day in the Capital City of Sacramento.


When we get to Sacramento, we'll be going to Cal-Expo, or what use to be known as Golden Bear Raceway. Cal-Expo, has run a short thoroughbred fair season since 1935, as The California State Fair, but is better known as the only pari-mutual harness racing track on the West Coast. Cal-Expo is more of a commercial track than a fair track, it is a large facility, with year round simulcasting. Both the harness and fair season are over for the year, interest in harness racing has dropped in California and the harness season is much shorter than it use to be. At one point a few years ago harness racing was done in the state. Rest up tonight were heading for the desert tomorrow.     

Day 42 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 404 202.00 160.00
Total 10,872 5,896.00 5,825.00

Day 43 Wednesday, September 14

WinnemuccaIdaho Star and Idaho Gem

Today, were kinda going off course, taking a right turn and heading for Nevada. Not a big time pari-mutual state, but it is there so were going to go, at least we cant make an ass out of our self's. Our first leg is about four and a half hours, fortunately were heading out on I-80 for two of the three stops, after that not so much, so keep a close eye on that gas gauge! Our first stop takes us to Winnemucca, and what was once called the Humboldt County Fairgrounds, not to be confused with the Humboldt County Fairgrounds we'll be visiting in a few days in California. Today this place is called the Winnemucca Events Complex, but the track symbol is Hcf. This is the place where cloned twins Idaho Star and Idaho Gem competed together against naturally born mules, but alas the famous Winnemucca Mule Races seem to be a thing of the past, at least for now. At least where they raced is still there, so we take a look and head on to Elko.

ElkoElko County Fair

Next stop is in Elko, about two hours down the road. Will be heading out to the Elko County Fairgrounds, which serves as the primary racecourse in Nevada, with six days of racing a year featuring a split meet with both quarter horse and thoroughbreds. Racing here dates back to the nineteen twenty's. Again a little late, the meet ended about ten days ago, maybe next year. We should be able to take a look around, say we were here before heading for our last stop in Ely.

ElyWhite Pine County Fair

Were going to stay on I-80 for a few miles before turning off on Nevada 229, a narrow two lane highway that take us through the Humboldt National Forest. Eventually we end up on US-93, The Great Basin Highway, which takes us into Ely. Racing has been held in Ely at The White Pines Fairgrounds since 1934, except for a time between 1993 and 2006. Today three days of racing are held in August, featuring both quarter horses and thoroughbreds. Hopefully the fairgrounds are open and we can look around before heading to the Jail House Motel & Casino, for a steak and a good nights rest, before the eight hour drive back to Vallejo, California.  

Day 43 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 602 301.00 60.00
Total 11,474 6,197.00 5,885.00

Day 44 Thursday, September 15

SolanoSolano County Fair

Today were heading back to California and a stop at The Solano County Fairgrounds in Vallejo, the only fair racing venue to be discontinued in recent times. Before we get there we still have quite a haul ahead of us. We start out on desolate US-50 for about four and a half hours to Fernley, Nevada where we pick up I-80, for the last three and a half hour leg to Vallejo. We have a tourist alert along the way, soon after you cross into California you will be Donner Pass, where you can find roadside information about the ill-fated Donner Party, whose wagon train got stranded in the Sierra Nevada in the winter of 1846. Most of the survivors resorted to cannibalism to survive. Once in Vallejo will head for the fairgrounds, where racing ended in 2009. The plan was to tear down the grandstand and track for an amusement park. Today there is no racing but it looks like the grandstand, race track and amusement park are all there. In true California fashion, The Joe Mortara Golf Course was in the track infield, but that also closed in 2014. Racing was not totally abandoned you can stop at the Solano Race Place, an OTB site on the grounds to place a few wagers. Were here for the night and we continue the fair tour tomorrow and hopefully some live racing.   

Day 44 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 508 254.00 200.00
Total 11,982 6,351.00 6,085.00

Day 45 Friday, September 16

PleasantonPleasanton Fair

Today we start off heading down I-680 from Vallejo, for about an hour to Pleasanton, home of the Alameda County Fairgrounds. The fairgrounds have been the home of California Fair Racing since 1939. Pleasanton is the largest of the fair tracks and was considered as a site to replace Bay Meadows, it didn't get that gig but snagged a major prize when it was awarded the Oak Tree Racing Association meet, which for years was run at Santa Anita Park. Today the Pleasanton meet is known as Oak Tree at Pleasanton. Live racing ended back in July, but there should be no problem looking the place over, or maybe playing a round of golf, as the tracks infield is also home to The Pleasanton Golf Center. After we slice a couple of balls, it's a sad trip to San Mateo.

Bay MeadowsBay Meadows

From Pleasanton we head west on I-580, to I-880 south to CA-92 where we cross over the San Francisco Bay on the San Mateo-Hayward Bridge to San Mateo. In San Mateo we find the San Mateo Events Center, which at one time was the site of Bay Meadows Race Track. Bay Meadows was a fixture in the Bay Area since 1934, but by 2008 the old girl was struggling her land more valuable than her. The old girl didn't suffer long, they ripped her right down, about all they left to remember her by was a little patch of grass called Paddock Park and a side street named Baze Road, I assume for Russell Baze, but who knows, the good news, we don't need to spend a lot of time here and can on to some racing action.

Golden GateGolden Gate Fields

Seeing how this could be our last shot at live racing, till we get to maybe Chicago, whenever that will be, I decided we should splurge and spend three days seeing the sights in San Francisco and enjoying the races at Golden Gate Fields. Golden Gate Fields, has been holding races in Albany since 1941, today it does most of the heavy lifting for the Northern California Racing Circuit, as it's the last commercial track in existence in the area. Had it not been rejected for a Cal-Berkley, expansion project in 2012, it too would be history. For now it races on, but if the price is right, it's gone. We better sharpen those handicapping pencils, were going to have to hit a handful of these five horse trifectas to pay for the hotel.

For a little change of pace, The San Francisco Giants are in town for the weekend with games today and tomorrow night. It's only money! 

Day 45 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 112 156.00 400.00
Total 12,094 6,507.00 6,485.00

Day 46 Saturday, September 17

Today is a good day to get acquainted with BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) so we can easily move around San Francisco. I'm going to get out early and head for Pier 33, where I have pre registered for the Alcatraz Island Tour. That should give us plenty of time to explore the island and get a good look at the Golden Gate Bridge, while having plenty of time to make post at Golden Gate. Tonight we'll go back to AT&T Park for another Giants game.

This will finish off week 7, we made it to fifteen different tracks, two of which had live racing, but we did get to do two cards at each track, which gave us more live racing than usual. We also hit a milestone by visiting our one hundredth track. 

Day 46 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 50 150.00 400.00
Total 12,144 6,657.00 6,885.00

Tracks Visited Live
Week 7 15 2
Total 110 17

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