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VIDEO: Dachshund derby brings crowds to Golden Gate Fields

on April 7, 2009

by Melanie Mason and Lauren Rudser/Oakland North

There were all the trappings of a day at the races: betting slips, beer, a red-jacketed bugler.  But interspersed among the horse races last Sunday at Golden Gate Fields was a different type of sport: dachshund racing.  This was a new promotion for the Berkeley racetrack, and dog owners and aficionados alike came in droves to watch the dachshunds race  in eight heats and one championship round.  In addition to bragging rights, the winner of each heat came away with a $50 prize; the top three finishers in the championship head won $300, $200 and $100 respectively.

Kristin Finkel, head of marketing for Golden Gate Fields, said she estimated turnout was well over their previous high attendance  tally of 8,000 people. Some of Golden Gate’s more committed attendees regarded the promotion with a detached amusement.  Terry Thompson, a regular who has been coming to the track since the 1950s, said that the dachshund derby attracted larger crowds than what he usually sees during the week, which gave the track more energy and excitement.  Still, he said he personally wasn’t captivated by the dog races.

“I don’t pay any attention,” Thompson said.  “I try to stay away from the dogs.”


The dachshund derby offered a new type of spectacle for attendees, but not a new opportunity to gamble.  No bets were taken on the outcome of the dog races.

“Dog racing is illegal in California, so  you can’t bet on dogs,” said Finkel.  “But maybe [next time] we’ll do something different.  Maybe we’ll have more heats or have more dogs racing.  You just never know.”


  1. Emily on April 8, 2009 at 9:10 am

    Those dachshunds are so cute!! What a neat event. Great example of an innovative community gathering. Love the video.

  2. tasneem on April 8, 2009 at 10:49 am

    squeeeeeee! i am dying of the cute.

  3. Tina on April 8, 2009 at 11:06 am

    Great video. Showed it to my Dachshund.

  4. Lucia on April 8, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    So cute. I will enter my dachshund for the 2011 race; he will love it!

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