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California: Bay Meadows
Posted on Monday, December 12 @ 22:12:38 MST by iljiana

Horse Racing

650) 574-RACE
2600 S. Delaware St
San Mateo, CA 94403

Bay Meadows Race Course in San Mateo can lay claim to being one of the most tradition-laden and innovative racetracks in the country. It also is the longest continually operating racetrack in California.

Since its inception in 1934, Bay Meadows has been a venue through which the most famous horses, jockeys and trainers have strolled, and where many "firsts" in racing took place.

Thanks to William P. Kyne, pari-mutuel wagering, the popular Daily Double, the first all-enclosed starting gate, the totalizator board and photo-finish camera were introduced to racing at Bay Meadows.

Even the first horse transported by air landed at Bay Meadows. That took place in 1945 when El Lobo was flown from Los Angeles by his owner, country and western entertainer Stuart Hamblem, to contest the Burlingame Handicap.

After landing safely on an airstrip adjacent to Bay Meadows, El Lobo completed the history-making journey by winning the race.

Speaking of races, Bay Meadows is home to the longest-running stakes event in California - the Bay Meadows Handicap. This race was inaugurated in 1934 and was captured in 1937 and '38 by the great Seabiscuit, ridden by noted jockey, George Woolf.

The Bay Meadows Derby for 3-year-old horses debuted in 1954 with the California-bred Determine winning. Three weeks later, Determine won the Kentucky Derby.

Bay Meadows Race Course also perservered during World War II. In 1944 Santa Anita Park in Arcadia was closed, but Kyne and Bay Meadows raced on.

Through Kyne's diligence, Bay Meadows was able to generate more than $4 million for War Relief Projects.

Several years later in 1951, one of the greatest horses to race, Citation, began his final campaign at Bay Meadows. The Triple Crown winner at one time assumed immortality by winning 16 consecutive races, and that record was equaled in 1996 by Cigar, a horse who finished third in his only Bay Meadows start, the 1993 Ascot Handicap (of course, on the turf).

The honor roll of jockeys who have called Bay Meadows home include Bill Shoemaker, John Longden, Ralph Neves and our current kingpin, Russell Baze.

Baze passed the legendary Shoemaker and moved into second place on the all-time win list for jockeys when he rode is 8,834th career winner on January 22, 2005. Baze has led the nation in victories seven times – in 2002 (431 wins), 2000 (412), 1996 (415), 1995 (448), 1994 (415), 1993 (410), and 1992 (433) – and has won 400 races 11 of the past 13 years. No other jockey has won 400 races in a year more than three times. Baze has won 32 riding championships at Bay Meadows and 26 at Golden Gate Fields. Baze won the Isaac Murphy Award, a national honor which goes to the jockey with the highest percentage (minimum 500 mounts), for nine strait years (from its inception in 1995 through 2003).

One of the first major stakes victories in Baze's career took place at Bay Meadows in 1984 when he won the El Camino Real Derby aboard French Legionaire. Baze captured his second El Camino Real Derby in 1998 when he guided Golden Eagle Farm's undefeated Event Of The Year to an impressive victory. Baze and Event Of The Year went on to capture the Grade II Jim Beam Stakes in their next appearance and were favorites for the Kentucky Derby until a knee injury forced the colt out of training.

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