The Alameda County Fairgrounds took a hit in 2018 when the property had to shut down as a year-round training facility for horse racing.
The official statement from the fair officials said, "The year-round facility for race horses was closed around 2018 due to lack of industry funding. The industry no longer needed an auxiliary training track to support year-round racing at Golden Gates Fields due to the decreased thoroughbred horse population."
The backstory very few are willing to publicly discuss is it fell victim to political power-plays by groups who have their own agenda, one that is not in the best interest of the sport.
The chest-thumping of these groups and unwillingness to work together for the sport and the people in the industry led to the downfall of Pleasanton being a year-round facility.
Pleasanton lost a series of trainers that had to shut down their longtime operations. A few went to Golden Gate Fields, but others took their stables to another state or just left the industry altogether.
And the thoroughbred horse population in Northern California decreased even more.
The victims were the families that depended on the Pleasanton facility, as well as the fairgrounds people that busted their humps to provide a great training center. These are the people that truly love horse racing and the people involved in the industry.
The shutdown of the training facility left the fairgrounds with a good-sized barn area that was going to be used maybe two to three months a year, while sitting dormant the rest of the year.
After the closure of the training facility, the Alameda County Fair Association, under the guidance of CEO Jerome Hoban, made the investment in developing a horse show facility to serve the greater region and to utilize the over 600 stalls the remaining part of the year when the association is not actively running a race meet during the fair.
The fruition of the project came when the Pleasanton Equestrian Center opened in 2019.
"We have high hopes that our investment in this beautiful facility will help it become a premier horse show facility in the coming years," Hoban said. "We believe it fits well with our mission of keeping agriculture relevant in the greater Bay Area and will be a great destination for equestrian enthusiast."
It's a beautiful facility replacing what had become an eyesore, catch-all storage area.
What stands now is a beautiful center that features three show arenas to complete the 600 permanent stalls. The "PEC" also has a full jump set.
Thus far, there have been 10-15 events held including the Silicon Valley Horse Show.
It makes for a great events center given the ample room for car and trailer parking, with RV hookups available. For spectators, there are lawn seating and bleachers available.
Talk about making the best of a bad situation. Hoban and his team at the Alameda County Fairgrounds deserve major props for the project that promises exciting, regularly scheduled events that promote the beauty that is equestrian competitions.
Editor's note: Dennis Miller is a contributing sports writer for the Pleasanton Weekly. To contact him about his "Pleasanton Preps" column, email [email protected]