BAY MEADOWS: A RICH TRADITION
Built on the site of an old airfield, Bay Meadows Racecourse in San Mateo, California, near the San Francisco bay area, was the longest continually operating thoroughbred racetrack in California, having been founded on November 13, 1934 until its closure on August 17, 2008 - a span of 75 years. Bay Meadows is just the latest horse racing track to fall victim of the, "sign of the economic and changing times" - Longacres Track in Renton, Washington, suffered the same fate and met its demise in 1992. Two things doomed Bay Meadows: a lack of slot machines at California racetracks and the failure to achieve compacts with the state's Indian tribes to share gaming revenues.
This program takes the viewer back in time to 1933 when ground was first broke for the inception of Bay Meadows and touches on significant events/happenings that took place at the track every single year in chronological order to its solemn closure in 1934; it's the hope that you will come to appreciate the rich tradition of Bay Meadows and how it was instrumental in shaping the history of California racing in addition to its pivotal role in U.S. racing as a whole through its significant contributions and "firsts" that all race tracks have benefited from and have come to expect as mainstays/staples today.
William P. Kyne's dream of Bay Meadows took 290 days to build and the track opens with tremendous fanfare on November 3, 1934. The innovative general manager of Bay Meadows, William P. Kyne, is keenly credited for being the first to introduce pari-mutuel wagering (1949), the popular Daily Double, the first all-enclosed electric starting gate (1939), the totalizator board and the photo-finish camera at a horse racing track in the U.S.
Prior to the track's closure, the Bay Meadows Handicap had been the longest continually run stakes event in California, having been started in 1934. SEABISCUIT won this race twice in 1937 and 1938. The track was allowed to remain open during World War II because of its agreement to give 92% of its profits towards the war effort. The track generated more than $4 million for War Relief projects during the war years. Its ability to run during the war accounts for its status as the longest continually operating U.S. racetrack. In 1945, the first racehorse to be transported by plane, EL LOBO, was set down in the parking lot.
In 1948, the eventual Hall of Fame jockey, Bill Shoemaker, first began his career by galloping horses on this track. He won his first stakes race in 1949.
In 1950 and 1951 the Bay Meadows 150 AAA Indy Car race was run at the track.
In 1954, 1955, and 1956 the track was used for NASCAR.
Throughout its history, Bay Meadows was also the first U.S. race track to host quarter horse racing at a major meet with pari-mutuel wagering (1949); was the first track to combine a harness racing and quarter horse meet (1950) and also was the first track to host a night meet for quarter horse racing (1968). But due to the low revenue these events generated, quarter horse and harness racing were not run in the last years of the track.
At the end, Bay Meadows focused exclusively on thoroughbred racing; CITATION, SILKY SULLIVAN, ROUND TABLE, OLDEN TIMES, JOHN HENRY and LOST IN THE FOG are just a handful of famous horses who raced there. Other Bay Meadows notable firsts and achievements include the Irish-bred NOOR winning his first U.S. (1949); DETERMINE winning the Bay Meadows Derby and then going on to victory in the Kentucky Derby (1954); NATIVE DIVER breaking his maiden (1961), OLE BOB BOWERS (sire of JOHN HENRY) equaling the world record for 9 furlongs in the Tanforan Handicap (1968) and MAJESTIC PRINCE received his early training and broke his maiden (1968). WILD AGAIN ran at Bay Meadows in 1984 and then went on to win the Breeders' Cup Classic the same year and CHARISMATIC used the 1999 Camino Real as a springboard to winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
Bay Meadows inaugurated the All-Star International Jockey Competition; the first running included Steve Cauthen, Laffit Pincay Jr., Sandy Hawley, Russell Baze, Roberto Gonzalez, Lester Piggott, Willie Carson, Frankie Dettori and Joe Mercer.
On December 1, 2006, jockey Russell Baze won the fourth race surpassing Laffit Pincay Jr.'s record for most career victories by a North American jockey for thoroughbred horse racing.
The closure of Bay Meadows means the end of a magnificent era of horse racing. This feature provides a chronology of major events and presents some of the all-time track highlights of Bay Meadows through its 75-year history.
Viewers will be amazed of the brief sampling of the all-star list of Eclipse champions and Hall of Famers who have run at the track: SEABISCUIT, CITATION, NOOR, COALTOWN, TWO LEA, IMBROS, DETERMINE, MR. GUS, BIG JESS, SILKY SULLIVAN, ROUND TABLE, BAGHDAD, PROMISE LAND, FIELD MASTER, GAELIC DANCER, NATIVE DIVER, SEA ORBIT, GUMMO, NO HOST, TIME TO LEAVE, MAJESTIC PRINCE, OLE BOB BOWERS, KNIGHTLY DAWN, TIZNA, TELLY'S POP, LIFE'S HOPE, GOLDEN ACT, JOHN HENRY, INTERCO, GATE DANCER, WILD AGAIN, SKYWALKER, NORTH SIDER, LADY'S SECRET, SNOW CHIEF, PALACE MUSIC, MASTERFUL ADVOCATE, RUHLMAN, A. P. INDY, FAST, TRACK ROBBERY, THE BART, BROWN BESS, SILVER ENDING, SEA CADET, SWEET ROBERTA, CASUAL LIES, CIGAR, SLEW OF DAMASCUS, TABASCO CAT, SOVIET PROBLEM, WORK THE CROWD, CAVONNIER, PACIFIC BOUNTY, EVENT OF THE YEAR, CHARISMATIC, WALKSLIKEADUCK, REDATORRE, SUANCES, SINGLETARY, LAVA MAN, LOST IN THE FOG and BOLD CHIEFTAIN...Johnny Longden, Bill Shoemaker, Bill Hartack, Charlie Whittingham, Noble Threewitt, Warren Stute, Russell Baze and Jerry Hollendorfer.
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