Bay Meadows race track closes down

May 11, 2008 7:34:19 PM PDT
It's the end of an era on the Peninsula.

After 75 years, the last horse race was run at Bay Meadows Sunday. More than 8000 race fans came to say goodbye to Bay Meadows. Some just wanted to be here for the last day, while others came to celebrate Mothers Day. Whatever the reason, after 75 years Bay Meadows will soon fade into horse racing history.

Three generations of the McDonald family came to the track to celebrate Mothers Day and to say good bye to a long time family tradition of watching the horses run.

"I wish it wasn't not going to close down. I like watching the horses," says six-year-old Madeline McDonald.

The track has been a part of this family's life for 30 years and it's been in continuous operation for the past 75 years.

For 63 years, Irene Ansell has worked the track. She spent 45 of those years in the money room, where millions of dollars have passed through her hands. After Sunday, Irene loses her job. She's 82.

"I feel very bad very bad. I feel bad for the young people that are still here," says Ansell.

Irene will retire, but some of those people are members of her own family, who have also worked here for decades.

Bay Meadows spokesman Sam Spear says many employees will lose their jobs beginning tonight.

"That's some 400 people and the majority of them will go to Golden Gate Fields or Pleasanton. However, they'll be at least 125 people out of work," says Spear.

Tara Burke is one of them

"Luckily for me, I'm young. I get to move on. It's sad for a lot of people here," says Burke.

Beginning this September, construction will begin here on 1,200 apartments and condos, about a million square feet of commercial space and a 15-acre park. All this on the track where Seabiscuit once ran.

There will be racing for ten days in August with the last official race on august 17th during the San Mateo County Fair. After that, the horses will be replaced by bulldozers.

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