Horse racing at the Alameda County Fair has been as normal as the fair itself each summer.
But thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, the two have not operated at the same time since the summer of 2019, leaving a huge void in Pleasanton’s summer activities.
It ends this week, because from Friday, June 17, things will return to normal.
The races are back with the fair, ready to roll with a full slate of concerts and events to go along with 13 days of horse racing.
The fair runs until July 10 and is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, with the exception of Monday July 4. Horse racing takes place from Friday to Sunday until July 10. There is also a full day of racing on the 4th of July. Posting time is 1:45 p.m. each day.
I have been involved in fair racing as a fan, bettor and employee for over 50 years now. The company my mom worked for had box seats, and at least twice everyone would meet my buddies and I would get my hands on the seats and take control of the box seating area.
After college, I started with the Tri-Valley Herald and covered races for the newspaper for almost 30 years, until I drifted away from the sinking ship that is the daily.
I started right away as the horse racing publicist for the Alameda County Fairgrounds and am still involved today as a co-organizer of the free daily handicap seminar that takes place at noon every race day on the stage outside the grandstand.
We go over all the races for the day, let you know who we think will win the race and why we feel that way.
I’m also excited for the races because for the first time in a long time I think horse racing is taking a turn in the right direction.
There are still warring factions plaguing the sport, but there is a movement to make the sport safer and with at least a uniform set of rules regarding horses and how they are treated.
The Horse Racing Integrity and Security Authority (HISA) was signed into federal law in 2020 and will take effect July 1. body.
Most trainers truly have the best interests of their horses in mind, but it only takes a few that want to win and do so without the safety of the horses being of concern.
HISA will take a big step towards catching this dirt. The sport cleanup will go a long way to increasing the horse population in California.
The other big plus point of the fair being back with horse racing at the same time is the family element gaining exposure to the races.
California Fairground fixtures are the definitive grassroots movement to bring new fans to the sport. I see it every year – families hanging around the track, watching the horses in the paddock, then cheering as the horses make their way to the finish line.
It’s a family activity that takes place outdoors and doesn’t involve sitting inside and playing video games.
There are plenty of adults who only go to the races when the fair match is on. For four weekends every year, they worship the chance to see live horse racing in a clean and safe environment. They bring their children and future racing fans are born. It happened to me when I was growing up, and to many of my friends.
Hope to see you at the races over the next four weekends.
Museum on Main
“The Home Stretch: Horse Racing at the Fair” is a new exhibit at the Museum on Main, located just under the Pleasanton Arch in downtown.
The exhibit features videos and images that tell the story of horse racing over the years in Pleasanton. I was honored to be invited to be part of the exhibit and was interviewed on tape last summer.
The exhibition will open this Wednesday and will continue until July 30.
Editor’s note: Dennis Miller is a sports editor for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his Pleasanton Preps column, email [email protected]