Berkeley’s Golden Gate Fields is still running races despite the July announcement of its permanent closure, but there are bound to be questions over how well they’re phasing out operations, as four horses have died there in the last two weeks.
The only thoroughbred horse-racing track left in Northern California, Berkeley’s Golden Gate Fields, announced in July that it was permanently closing the facility. Its last day was originally supposed to be yesterday, Monday October 2, though the Chronicle reported a couple weeks back that the racetrack had extended its operations, and would remain open until June 11, 2024.
But there are going to be concerns with that extension, as KPIX reports that four racehorses have died in the last two weeks at Golden Gate Fields. Moreover, according to KPIX, this is the 12h racehorse to die at the facility this year.
"Every day this track is open is an opportunity for another dead horse,” Bay Area resident Diana Navon told KPIX. “It's atrocious they plan on remaining open for another season. How many more horses do they need to kill?"
Four dead horses in just two weeks is alarming, though it's not entirely unprecedented. Back in 2021, the same racetrack saw three horses die within a week.
The first of the recent deaths started September 20, when a five-year-old mare named Gardees World died for causes still not determined. Five days later, a five-year-old gelding called Great Story died from what was described as non-musculoskeletal death while in training. On September 27, a two-year-old filly named Weeping Willow “was killed at the track” for unknown reasons, according to KPIX. And this past Sunday, a five-year-old mare called Navy Queen died in an incident described as a musculoskeletal training death.
KPIX reached out to the track’s operator, Stronach Group. Per KPIX, Stronach Group “pointed to measures taken by the California Horse Racing Board, which tracks racing horse fatalities and regulates the sport, that have reduced deaths at tracks by 54 percent over the past three years.”
But notice how that statement says deaths were reduced “at tracks,” meaning tracks statewide. That does not necessarily mean a reduction in horse deaths at Golden Gate Fields.
Image: Jeff H. via Yelp