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Horse race tracks in California

Today, we will delve into everything you will ever need to know about horse race tracks in California, including which ones operate today, horse race bettings’ legal status in California, and much more.

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Horse race tracks and betting have long been a pastime of gamblers in the United States, with the first known race track popping up in 1858 in Pleasanton, NY. From there, horse race tracks began opening across the country, as Americans everywhere began embracing the industry.

California horse racing as we know it today began in 1933 when pari-mutuel wagering was legalized in the Golden State. At first, California Fairs were home to horse race track tracks in California, with the San Joaquin Fair in Stockton, CA opening the very first race track for bettors in August of 1933.

Let’s dive into where horse race tracks in California have evolved from there. 

Horse race tracks in California

There are currently four horse race tracks in California operating today, as far north as Berkerly and as far south as Del Mar. Below is where you can find each of the four horse race tracks in California.

California Race Track


Del Mar Racing

2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014

Santa Anita Park

285 West Huntington Dr. Arcadia, California 91007

Golden Gate Fields

1100 Eastshore Hwy, Berkeley, CA 94710

Los Alamitos Race Course

4961 Katella Avenue, Los Alamitos, California 90720

Yes, betting on horse racing became legal in California in 1933, with the first horse race track in California for wagering opening in August of that same year in Stockton, CA. In 1934, San Antina Park in Los Angeles, which remains open today, opened its doors for the first time.

Another big change in horse racing legislation in California came in 1985 when the state legalized off-track betting locations in Northern California. Two years later, Southern California also legalized off-track betting on horse racing. The final step to fully legalize horse racing betting in California came in 2002 when Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) legislation was passed to make California online gambling sites for horse racing legitimate in the state.

How to wager at a California race track

All four of the horse race tracks in California are amongst the most well-known race tracks in the country, and each offers wagering on the races involved. Offering both thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing, horse race tracks in California have something for everyone. If you are new to horse race betting, let’s take a look at how to wager at a California race track.

  1. Do Your Research: Before you make your bet, do your research to find the best bet. Each horse race track in California offers tip sheets, which give you as a bettor a wealth of valuable information such as horse records, jockey records, and trainer information. You can also do your own research online, diving deep into horse race data at a variety of ADW research websites.
  2. Know Your Betting Information: Before you place your bet, you’ll need to know which race number you are betting on, the post position of the horse you are betting on, the type of bet you want to place, and how much you want to wager. Some of the bet types to consider are win, place, show, or one of the many exotic betting options.
  3. Visit the Betting Counter: With your research done and your bet information ready to go, approach the betting counter to tell the teller your bet. Do note that to wager at a California race track, you will have to use cash only.
  4. Place Your Bet: The teller at the betting counter will confirm to you all of the bet information that you tell them before placing your bet. Once you confirm it is correct, they’ll give you a receipt in exchange that has all of your betting information on it.
  5. Redeem Your Ticket: If your bet is a winner, return to the betting counter where you can exchange it for cash. If it is a loser, you can discard the ticket.

Things to keep in mind when betting at a horse race track in California

If you are visiting a horse race track in California for the very first time, there are a handful of things you should be aware of. Let’s take a look at a few things to keep in mind when betting at a horse race track in California.

  • Age Minimums: In California, you must be at least 18 years of age or older to bet on horses at horse race tracks in California. The same age minimum applies to wagering at California off-track betting locations and ADW websites.
  • Taxes: Unlike lottery winnings in the state of California, you do have to pay both state and federal taxes on all winnings when it comes to horse race betting. Check with a local tax expert for the exact tax situation that applies to you.
  • California Horse Racing Board: When it comes to all things horse racing in the Golden State, the California Horse Racing Board (CHRB) oversees and regulates all matters. This includes rules around tax revenue, off-track betting in the state, and safety standards at each of the four horse race tracks in California.
  • Horse Racing Fairs: While the four active horse racing tracks include Golden Gate Fields, Del Mar Fairgrounds, San Anita Park, and Los Alamitos Race Course, there are also racing fairs in California during the summer months where you can watch and bet on horse races. There are currently five such fairs which include The Big Fresno Fair, Sonoma County Fair, Humboldt County Fair, Alameda County Fair, and the California Exposition & State Fair.
  • Know the Track Attributes: Whether you are betting at one of the four year-round horse race tracks in California or a horse racing fair, you should know the attributes of the track itself. For example, the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club features a one-mile main track made of Polytack synthetic material, which includes chutes for seven-furlong.


Are there any race tracks near Los Angeles?

No, there are no new race tracks near Los Angeles. The closest thing to a new track near Los Angeles came via renovation of the Los Alamitos track layout, which in 2014 debuted a brand new one-mile oval. The more than 1,300-foot-long stretch is the longest in the country today.

Which is the newest race track in California?

The newest race track in California is the Los Alamitos Race Course which opened its doors in 1951 in Los Alamitos, CA. A dirt course to this day, Los Alamitos is home to both thoroughbred and quarter-horse race types.

Is there sports betting at California horse race tracks?

No, there is no sports betting at California horse race tracks as legislation has not yet been passed to legalize sports betting in the state. Prop 26 and Prop 27, both aimed to make California sports betting legal, failed to pass the required number of “yes” votes in a November 2022 vote in the state.

What types of horse races are held in California?

Both thoroughbred and quarter-horse races are held in California throughout the year.

How can I find the nearest horse race track to my location in California?

You can find the nearest horse race track to your location in California by viewing the map near the top of this page. With horse race tracks in California located in Northern, Central, and Southern CA, there is likely a race track within a couple of hours of you at most.

Are horse races open to the public, or do I need to buy tickets?

You need to buy tickets to horse races in California, with prices varying depending on the track and the day of races you are attending.

What are the most prestigious horse racing events in California?

The most prestigious horse racing events in California are the Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita Handicap, TVG Pacific Classic, Del Mar Futurity, Champion of Champions, and the Los Alamitos Derby.