BERKELEY, Calif. - Animal activists are applauding the decision announced over the weekend, that the Stronach Group, which owns Golden Gate Fields, will discontinue horse racing at the East Bay racetrack at the end of the year.
Just last week, a proposed ordinance in Berkeley would tighten protections for animals within the city limits. Golden Gate Fields operations would be severely impacted, if the council approves the ordinance.
Bay Meadows in San Mateo closed in 2008, leaving Golden Gate Fields as the only thoroughbred racetrack in Northern California.
CEO and President Belinda Stronach shared in a statement that the company intends to focus on operations in Southern California, where it owns Santa Anita and the San Luis Rey Downs training center.
The consolidation intends to bolster up the company’s Santa Anita Park, in Arcadia which will offer ‘’enhanced program quality, increased race days, expanded wagering opportunities, and premier hospitality and entertainment experiences is vital to ensuring that California racing can continue to compete and thrive on a national level."
Animal activists from around the state, who have held protests at Golden Gate Fields, are applauding the decision. They've decried the deaths of eight horses since the beginning of 2023.
The support is for adding Chapter 12.75 to the Berkeley Municipal Code, which would establish protections for animals held, owned, used, exhibited or kept for racing or other sport, entertainment or profit within the city of Berkeley.
If approved, because the stables are in Berkeley city limits, operations at the racetrack would be impacted.
According to the animal advocacy group Golden Gate Fields is in the top five deadliest racetracks in the nation for horses and the second deadliest in the state, after Santa Anita Park, which has seen 17 deaths of horses since the beginning of this year.
Golden Gate Fields straddles both Albany to the north and Berkeley to the south and sits along the bayside shoreline of San Francisco. The racetrack has been in operation since 1941 and covers 140 acres.
There’s no indication as to what’s next for the large parcel, but the Stronach Group does indicate it’s operations include real estate development.
Alice Wertz is a freelance reporter for KTVU. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter @AlicesTake Instagram: WayIseesit