Horse racing is often called "the sport of kings," a throwback to the days when the cultural elite would amuse itself by watching horses race each other atop local monarchs. Though the rules of the sport have changed slightly, the palpable excitement remains, and today's Groupon will let you palpate it all day. For $17, you get Turf Club admission (up to a $15 value), a program, tip sheet, and a $15 food and beverage voucher at Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley (a $34.25 total value).
Nestled on the shore of the San Francisco Bay with views of downtown Berkeley, Golden Gate Fields is a pristine racing facility that boasts a one-mile oval main track, lakeside turf course, and seating for 14,750 human people. The Turf Club provides excellent dining options, such as the Horseman's Circle Bar for stadium fare and the Turf Club restaurant for fancy dishes, as well as breath-making views of Mount Tamalpais, the bay, Alcatraz Island, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the races between horses and children riding on scooters. The enforced dress code is smart casual, encouraging festive hats and stylish denim, and discouraging flip-flops, sweaty pants, and shants.
Gates to the Turf Club open at 11 a.m. and races commence at 12:45 p.m. Wednesday–Sunday through December 19. You must call ahead to make a reservation for the Turf Club, so pick a date on the upcoming schedule to get as close as humanly possible to your lifelong dream of having hooves instead of feet.
- Once your [sic] in the complex you're guaranteed [sic] to have something to entertain everyone with live racinig [sic]. Beautiful horses racing, colorful jockeys, a perfectly landscaped property, and everyone cheering and talking you'll automatically get swept away in the excitement. – BayAreaBoy12002, Citysearch
- I didn't think I would get so excited and into the race, as I did. As your horse comes racing towards the finish line, you cannot help but cheer it on. "Go, Go, Go!" – Marck n., Yelp
Golden Gate Fields
Their flanks flecked with sweat, muscles rippling in their necks, and nostrils flaring, the thoroughbreds at Golden Gate Fields hurtle around a 1-mile oval. Crouched in the saddle, the jockeys feel the eyes of up to 14,750 audience members on their silk-clad backs as they strain to reach the finish line. In addition to its main mile-long track, the 140-acre racing complex has a 9/10-mile lakeside turf course, giving guests plenty of races to wager on. After the first starting pistol fires, watchers can fuel their cheering with polish sausage from the Horseman’s Circle, housemade pepperoni from Tastes of Italy, and steaks from Apron Barbeque.
Even fancier food awaits rumbling stomachs at the Turf Club—the crab cakes and steak prepared by Executive Chef Bryan Taylor aren’t the only draw. Club guests can enjoy an unparalleled live view of both tracks, the bay, and the Berkeley hills or watch the steeds on the private viewing screens that grace each table. In addition to the private screens, more than 80 flat screens, a jumbo screen, and regular monitors show horses hitting breakneck paces, and both live tellers and automatic wagering machines stand ready to take bets on which horse has the biggest shoe size. Leather furnishings, Tiffany-style lights, and gallery displays of equine-themed Hermès and Gucci scarves create a sophisticated atmosphere that reminds guests of the illustrious history of the track, which dates back to 1941.