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Best California Horse Racing Tracks To Visit

December 21, 2022

There are few more popular holiday destinations in the world than California. The location has something for everyone regardless of their hobbies and interests. However, it is quickly becoming a safe haven for horse racing fans, with no shortage of big races being held in the state throughout the year. 

However, which are the best tracks in California to visit throughout the year, and what are the most famous races that are held at each?

Santa Anita 

There are few horse racing tracks like Santa Anita across the United States, and it has quickly become one of the locations on the bucket lists of all fans from around the world. Santa Anita first opened its doors to the public on Christmas Day in 1934, and it has gone on to hold some of the biggest races on the calendar. Annually, the biggest race days at the track are the Santa Anita Derby and the Santa Anita Handicap. 

The Santa Anita Derby is one of the big Kentucky Derby prep races, with three winners of the race having gone on to land the Kentucky Derby since 2012. Next year promises to be another huge one for Santa Anita Park, as it will host the Breeders’ Cup for the eleventh time

You can visit this website to learn more about this track: https://edge.twinspires.com/racing/tracks/

Del Mar

Another track in California that has held the illustrious honour of holding the Breeders’ Cup previously is Del Mar. The track can host approximately 44,000 fans, and famously held the Breeders’ Cup in 2021. Knicks Go was the winner of the featured race, while there were also big wins for global superstars including Life Is Good, Modern Games and Yibir. 

The track has a number of standout slogans, including ‘Where the Turf Meets The Surf’. Del Mar was first open to the public in 1937, and it annually holds prestigious graded action, with races on the calendar including the Pacific Classic, Eddie Read Stakes, and the Big Crosby Stakes. Action on track runs from July until September, with a further meet also held in November.

Los Alamitos

While Del Mar and Santa Anita may be the two big race courses in California, there is also enjoyable action throughout the year at Los Alamitos. The track in the City of Cypress was opened in 1951, and it is owned by Ed Allred. Unlike Santa Anita and Del Mar, Los Alamitos only stages dirt racing throughout the season. Some of the standout races on the calendar include the Champion of Champions, Ed Burke Memorial Futurity, and the Los Alamitos Derby. It is also famous for hosting one of the biggest early season preps for the Kentucky Derby. 

The Los Alamitos Futurity has been won by some future superstars throughout its history, with the most famous winner coming in 2014, as Dortmund won the race before landing the Santa Anita Derby and Native Driver Handicap in the following year. 

Golden Gate Fields

San Francisco is always a popular holiday destination, and horse racing fans in the region should pay a visit to Golden Gate Fields. This track is located in Berkeley, and it was first opened in 1941. Following the closure of Bay Meadows, Golden Gate became the only track in the Northern California region. Golden Gate can seat up to 5,000 visitors, with the grandstand also able to cover 8,000. 

There are three big races that are staged at the track annually, and those are the San Francisco Mile Stakes, Golden Gate Derby, and the Berkeley Handicap. However, there are no Grade 1 races on the Golden Gate calendar, with the San Francisco Mile and Berkeley Handicap both being Grade 3 contests.