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Alameda County Fair Horse Racing

The Alameda County Fair is an annual 11-day event that showcases the various products of this California county. It also features products from the whole state. The event is organized and operated by the Alameda County Agricultural Fair Association at the Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.

The Alameda County Fair originated in 1859 as a Floral Fair. The first modern day Fair was held in 1939 and has been held annually with the exception of the war years.

As with most state fairs in California, one of the major attractions is horse racing. The fair grounds has a one-mile horse track in Pleasanton, California that feature thoroughbred and quarter horse racing. The grandstand has a capacity of 6,608 people. On live racing dates, it attracts close to 40,000 people.

The racetrack at the Alameda County Fair grounds is the oldest horse racing track in America, dating back to 1858. It is in fact, older than New York's famous Saratoga racetrack. The sons of Spaniard Don Agustin Bernal constructed it, and wealthy horse owners shipped their horses from the east to Pleasanton for training during the winter months.

Alameda County Fair History

1858

  • Construction began on the horse racing track.

1912

  • The first modern Alameda County Fair was held in Pleasanton when the owner of the racetrack, Rodney G. MacKenzie, pushed to host a fair on his property.

1913 and 1914

  • The Alameda County Fair was held during these years, and though attendance increased, it did not do well financially.

1933

  • California legalized pari-mutuel betting.

1939

  • Mutuel wagering started in Pleasanton.

1941

  • The Alameda County Fair ran July 3-12, with nine days of races for a handle of $432,644, which was a national record. The fair was suspended for the next three years due to the war.

1963

  • The old wooden bandstand was torn down and the present concrete and steel grandstand was built.

1970s

  • This was a period of expansion for the Alameda County Fair grounds. A 9-hole golf course replaced the inner racetrack in 1975.

2004

  • The Alameda County Fair hit the second highest racing handle in Fair history at $35,776,350, up 4% from 2003. Contributing to that nearly record high amount was the highest single day race handle in Northern California Fair history, $4,586,825, on July 3rd.

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