PLEASANTON, Calif. (Sept. 21, 2016) -- When Oak Tree at Pleasanton opens a six-day race meeting on Friday at the Alameda County Fairgrounds, it will not be your usual fair meet.
Unlike the other Northern California fair meets, this one will be conducted entirely without a fair.
The dates originally belonged to the San Joaquin County Fair in Stockton, but the fair relinquished them. Pleasanton, with its Oak Tree partnership, applied for the dates, as did Golden Gate Fields. The California Horse Racing Board selected Pleasanton for the brief meeting, which runs the next two weeks, Fridays through Sundays.
Santa Rosa extends its meet for a few days after the Sonoma County Fair closes, but this will be the first standalone meeting for a fair facility.
“I think this two weeks of racing is very important for the entire racing industry,” said Alameda County Fair chief executive Jerome Hoban.
“This is the most important two weeks we’ve ever had as a fair because there is the perception you can’t be successful if there is no fair going on at the same time,” said Tom Doutrich, the racing secretary for the California Authority of Racing Fairs.
First post is 2:15 p.m. Pacific on Fridays and 1:15 on Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is free, and parking is $10.
The only stakes at the meet is the $50,000 Oak Tree Juvenile for 2-year-olds at a mile and 70 yards over the dirt main track Oct. 1.
A total of 62 horses were entered for the eight Thoroughbred races on Friday’s nine-race card, which opens with a Quarter Horse race. Doutrich said he is expecting horses from Southern California and the recently completed meet at Emerald Downs near Seattle to help fill races.
The Alameda County Fair is promoting the meet with a variety of special events planned for each of the six racing days.
On Friday, there is a T-shirt giveaway and $2 beers. There is a $5,000 handicapping tournament on Saturday and a wine festival that has already sold 400 tickets. Sunday will be Festival Latino in conjunction with Univision.
The second week will see $2 beers offered Friday. On Saturday, Oct. 1, there will be a craft beer festival, and closing day, Sunday, Oct. 2, has been designated Family Fun Day.