Victory: Golden Gate to Shutter for Good

Yesterday, word came that The Stronach Group, one of the racing industry’s major brokers, is closing Golden Gate Fields for good this December. (Stronach is also reportedly considering a move to pull out of Maryland – it currently owns both tracks there – entirely.) The elimination of Golden Gate, which opened in 1941, will leave the whole of Northern California without a single commercial track. This, folks, is a major victory – and make no mistake, it’s a victory won by us activists. Unrelenting pressure.

One of the better quotes I’ve read is this one from retired trainer Greg Gilchrist in BloodHorse: “Everything changes. When Santa Anita is down to running three days a week, that’s pretty clear. The horse population has gotten smaller and smaller and politically it’s tough for racing right now in California. There are a whole lot of minuses and not many plusses.”

Exactly. The writing, as they say, is on the wall. And now we can look forward to updating this come December…

The following racetracks have closed since 2000. In this same period, only three new tracks have opened: Pinnacle in Michigan – which, as you’ll see, closed after only two years – Presque Isle in Pennsylvania and Running Aces in Minnesota. It must be noted, however, that both Presque Isle and Running Aces are racinos, meaning they never could have opened without taxpayer subsidization. Clearly, the demand for the racing product itself is going in one direction. Progress.

(Two other tracks, not listed below, were for all intents and purposes simply replaced after they closed: Ohio’s Beulah Park closed in 2014; its license was then picked up by Mahoning Valley, which opened that same year. Kentucky’s Thunder Ridge closed in 2017; its license was eventually transferred to Oak Grove, which opened in 2019. Of course, both Mahoning and Oak Grove are racinos.)

The shuttered tracks (41, and counting):

Pompano Park, Florida, closed 2022 after 58 years of abusing horses
Arlington Park, Illinois, closed 2021 after 94 years of abusing horses
Calder Race Course, Florida, closed 2020 after 49 years of abusing horses
Scarborough Downs, Maine, closed 2020 after 70 years of abusing horses
Bluegrass Downs, Kentucky, closed 2019 after 35 years of abusing horses
Suffolk Downs, Massachusetts, closed 2019 after 84 years of abusing horses
Portland Meadows, Oregon, closed 2019 after 73 years of abusing horses
Hazel Park, Michigan, closed 2018 after 69 years of abusing horses
Les Bois Park, Idaho, closed 2016 after 46 years of abusing horses
Atlantic City Race Course, New Jersey, closed 2015 after 69 years of abusing horses
Balmoral Park, Illinois, closed 2015 after 89 years of abusing horses
Maywood Park, Illinois, closed 2015 after 69 years of abusing horses
Sports Creek Raceway, Michigan, closed 2015 after 28 years of abusing horses
Hollywood Park, California, closed 2013 after 75 years of abusing horses
Mount Pleasant Meadows, Michigan, closed 2013 after 28 years of abusing horses
Eureka Downs, Kansas, closed 2011 after 108 years of abusing horses
Atokad Downs, Nebraska, closed 2011 after 55 years of abusing horses
Northwest Montana Fair, closed 2011 after unknown number of years abusing horses
Yellowstone Downs, Montana, closed 2011 after 65 years of abusing horses
Blue Ribbon Downs, Oklahoma, closed 2010 after 47 years of abusing horses
Dayton Days, Washington, closed 2010 after 122 years of abusing horses
Manor Downs, Texas, closed 2010 after 20 years of abusing horses
Pinnacle Race Course, Michigan, closed 2010 after 2 years of abusing horses
Waitsburg, Washington, closed 2010 after 99 years of abusing horses
Walla Walla Fair, Washington, closed 2010 after 144 years of abusing horses
Western Montana Fair, closed 2010 after 96 years of abusing horses
Anthony Downs, Kansas, closed 2009 after 105 years of abusing horses
Rockingham Park, New Hampshire, closed 2009 after 103 years of abusing horses
Solano Fair, California, closed 2009 after 58 years of abusing horses
Bay Meadows, California, closed 2008 after 74 years of abusing horses
Jackson Harness Raceway, Michigan, closed 2008 after 60 years of abusing horses
Great Lakes Downs, Michigan, closed 2007 after 18 years of abusing horses
Rochester Fair, New Hampshire, closed 2007 after 73 years of abusing horses
Woodlands Racecourse, Kansas, closed 2007 after 17 years of abusing horses
Northampton Fair, Massachusetts, closed 2005 after 62 years of abusing horses
Saginaw Valley Downs, Michigan, closed 2005 after 25 years of abusing horses
Sportsman’s Park, Illinois, closed 2002 after 70 years of abusing horses
Brockton Fair, Massachusetts, closed 2001 after 60 years of abusing horses
Garden State Park Racetrack, New Jersey, closed 2001 after 59 years of abusing horses
Playfair Race Course, Washington, closed 2001 after 100 years of abusing horses
Lone Oak Park, Oregon, closed 2000 after 67 years of abusing horses

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  1. This is a direct result of activism! Thank you to this amazing community! Everyone who donates, protests, volunteers, makes calls and emails for the horses, your unwavering support means so much and it means we can keep working until we end this cruelty for good!

    Nicole Arciello
    Executive Director
    Horseracing Wrongs

        • Oops . Thought lasted bit longer. Believe or not the best advocates for ending racing will eventually be the corporate casinos. They would love to end having to give such a huge percentage of profits to states who then subsidize racing . Tracks are expensive to maintain vs a slot machine where the casinos are required to run racing. Racing is a big money loser for those casinos. Not judging the morals of gambling etc . but casino corporations can be the causes best friend. Almost every small track that is required to run racing for its racinos would shut down the racing side immediately if allowed . Very few tracks make money on their own merit.

  2. I once thought that the abolition of horseracing would never happen. Thankfully, I’m no so sure anymore.

    • There’s still a lot of money in horseracing but don’t stop fighting. More shut downs and less breeding are happening.

    • I can only hope that I live to see the day this happens. After years of being on the protest line at Del Mar here in San Diego, we devoted activists are living for the day there is no more horse racing in California.

  3. Awesome! Let’s hope the trend continues and the pace picks up on these closures…

  4. With the closing of Golden Gate Killing Fields, the Stronach Group will be able to focus on the killing of more racehorses at Santa Anita Park a.k.a. Santa Anita Death Track.
    With FEWER THAN 18,000 new foals registered each year by The Jockey Club for the last few years, and the rate of the maimings and killings of Thoroughbreds every day, it will be a challenge for even the “professional horse exploiters” to get enough horses to fill the race cards for however many race days that will be granted to Santa Anita Park going forward.
    With the genetics of the horses predisposing them to certain bone diseases, etc., the daily routine abuse of the horses being what it is (the way they handle the horses, the INSANE STUPIDITY of starting colts and fillies out in race training and racing at about ONE-THIRD OF THE AGE OF MATURITY, the way they subject the horses to so much stress which leads to ulcers, the forced 23-hour a day confinement to a stall, the forced running and whipping, not to mention the various methods of shocking horses using electrical devices), the rate of the maimings and killings will continue as BUSINESS AS USUAL at Santa Anita Park (Santa Anita Death Track/ Santa Anita Death Trap).

    The Stronach Group, the CHRB and all of the other groups and individuals participating in and supporting this egregious abuse of horses can throw up DENIALS AND DEFLECTIONS all they want, but it’s not going to change anything that’s really happening in the real world.

  5. This is great news! Every track that closes is a victory. I know we’d all like to see racing end tomorrow, but it’s clear horse racing is becoming less and less popular with the general public, and it’s because word is really getting around about the terrible abuses. Activism pays off! Thanks Patrick and Nicole, and all the rest of you who work so tirelessly.

  6. Love this story! Seems like there’s never enough good news in anti-racing activism, because industry insiders work so hard to keep all their dirty, not-so-little secrets hidden away — and their abuse-train rolling along.
    But this is a happy tale of the realities of exposure. Hearts and minds are being won over with facts. So, as always, thank you to Horseracing Wrongs, for your part in bringing about the permanent closure of Golden Gate Killing Fields.

  7. Moving out of Maryland!!! Wow. I can’t wait to see how the industry would spin the Preakness.

  8. I want to see the Horse Racing Track shut down in Saratoga Springs! Maybe some day, however, do believe Saratoga has much more to deal with! I will not go into detail, yet, am certain there are many on this site that does know!!!

    • You and thousands of other people want to see that race track shut down in Saratoga Springs, Claire.

  9. In my handicapping/betting days, I visited almost every major racetrack around the country. Golden Gate Fields [along with it’s sister track, the now-shuttered Bay Meadows] was, at best a “B” rated track for bettors. The Meadowlands one-month thoroughbred meet was on a par with it, as very few top-graded horses would race at either one.

    Santa Anita, Del Mar and the now-shuttered Hollywood Park were the “A” list tracks, and attracted the most money from us bettors in California.

    I never really liked GG, though, or the racing there. While at one point, I might have been sorry to see the demise of so many race tracks, I’ve since changed my mind. In addition to the daily horse deaths that occur much too frequently, trainers and insiders have taken their cheating – which is, in my book, simply another word for stealing – to unprecedented levels. Yes, they’re digging their own grave, as the more cheating that goes on, the less interest there will be in racing, hence, the less foals, the smaller fields, and from experience I can tell you – most big bettors shy away from placing wagers on races with short [less than 5 entries] fields.

    This all means less handle, less money, and even more likely that the industry will have to ‘lean’ on the politicians for cash to keep their crooked and deadly game going. Like the obscene $455 million dollar deal Gov. Hochul signed in New York.

    Mr. Battuello has noted, and posted pix on this site showing that both Belmont Park and the soon-to-be-shuttered Aqueduct Racetrack are literally ghost towns on all but the biggest racing days. Hochul’s ‘deal’ was obviously politically motivated, since NO ONE wins on this transaction except the horsemen – and, of course, all the insiders that were probably ‘paid off’.

    Saratoga and Churchill Downs will probably be the last race tracks to close, as they still generate millions in income. But I’ll stick with my decision not to follow or bet on horse racing any longer, and hope that any bettors or horseplayers reading will realize that they are being taken for a ride -it’s a crooked and deadly game, and hopefully more people will realize that it’s not as nice and pretty as the grounds at Saratoga.

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