Biz Beat

Turlock’s Turf Club needs someone to bet on it

Loosing bets litter the tables at the Turf Club in Turlock, Calif., on Wednesday, April, 1, 2015.
Loosing bets litter the tables at the Turf Club in Turlock, Calif., on Wednesday, April, 1, 2015. Modesto Bee file

Turlock’s Turf Club, an off-track betting site for years, has again closed its doors.

The Turf Club was operated by the Stanislaus County Fair until dwindling finances made it impossible to keep going, as my colleague Jeff Jardine reported last year. But fair officials found a renter to keep it going last fall.

Recently, the fair’s public relations staff came into the office for an annual visit we have about this time each year. And they confirmed that the facility has been closed after the lease expired.

Spokeswoman Adrenna Alkhas said the fair board would like to see the Turf Club reopened but has to find someone willing to rent it and operate it.

Horse racing in general has declined in popularity in recent years. It’s a pricey endeavor in the first place, and with internet gambling giving people the opportunity to bet online, all of those in-person sales (that beer and those nachos you might get while watching the filly you bet on in the fifth) are lost.

Bay Meadows in San Mateo, where Seabiscuit once thundered down the track, closed in 2008. It had operated for 74 years, according to a Mercury News article on the track’s demise. That’s also where night racing, the photo finish and the electronic starting gate were introduced, the Mercury News story said. Quite a bit of history there.

More recently, the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds lost horse racing after a 150-year run, as my colleague John Holland reported last year. Citing cost increases and a drop in attendance, the California Horse Racing Board voted to shift those races to the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton.

I am not much of a horse-racing fanatic. My husband and friends who are make fun of my go-to bet – $2 to show – because you get three chances to win and can only lose two bucks. But I sure liked having the Turf Club around, and it was always great to go out and get video of enthusiasts reacting to the big races, like American Pharoah’s Triple Crown win in 2015. Hopefully someone who sees an opportunity will come in and rent the place.

On a brighter note, the fair folks told us a little bit about what they have planned for this year’s Stanislaus County Fair, which opens its 10-day run July 24. Stay tuned.

Elsewhere around the Business Beat:

Groundwork has begun on the Ten Pin Fun Center in Turlock. My colleague Nan Austin reported last year on the plans for the center, to be located on Countryside Drive near Monte Vista Crossings.

You may recall an earlier attempt at locating the bowling alley/arcade/sports bar near California State University, Stanislaus, failed when the financing didn’t work out. But the second time appears to be the charm, with grading work underway.

A post on the business’s Facebook page indicates hope it will open in September, with hiring to start in July or August. As I learn more, I will pass it along.