LAST TRAIN FROM BAY MEADOWS...THE END OF AN ERA
This feature-length documentary chronicles the long history of Bay Meadows - California's longest continually operated Thoroughbred racetrack from its opening in 1933 through its final months including its very last race run in 2008. Featuring interviews and recanting some of the track's storied history, the film depicts a personal and behind-the-scenes look at Bay Meadows from its ground-breaking in 1934 to its sad and emotional demise in 2008.
The film starts with Bay Meadows' final days, including the running and Michael Wrona's emotional call of the track's final race. Artie Shaw, whose clarinet immortalized the song more than any musician or singer, plays, ironically, "Begin the Beguine" in the background. Then the film segues quickly to Bay Meadows' founder Bill Kyne, who shot crap with almost everything he touched. One true entertaining story is how Kyne once bet $1,000 that he had a standardardbred who could swim the San Francisco Bay. BLACKIE did, too, and he must have liked it. On the far shore, he turned around and threatened to swim back. Kyne brought BLACKIE to the restaurant that night when the bet was paid and he enjoyed all the attention he was given.
Other colorful stories of Bay Meadows that's retold is the the story of Ralph Neeves, who in 1936, was the leading contender to win the meet's jockey competition and a gold watch from no other than Bing Crosby. One day during the end of the meet, Neeves had a horrific spill, was trambled and pronounced dead on the track. The film documents the happy ending to Neeves' apparent demise after a doctor-friend in the county morgue ignored the toe tag and shot some adrenaline into the lifeless body of Neeves, who sprang to life and wound up racing the next day.
Then there's the Ron Hansen story, about the troubled jockey disappearing off the end of the San Mateo Bridge; the story about SEABISCUIT, who was undefeated in five starts at the track; and the Tom Chapman story, about how he replaced Hansen in a big race, painted the winning horse and jump-started an artist's career. LOST IN THE FOG, one of the last great horses to run at Bay Meadows, also gets his due, as does his jockey Russell Baze, who won many of his 11,000 plus races there.
The film also showcases legendary tote-taker, Boots O'Neil, who was 84 years old when he attended on the final day of racing at the San Mateo facility. As a 10-year-old sneaking in via the track's restroom window, O'Neal recounts being enthralled as he watched SEABISCUIT, undefeated in his lifetime at Bay Meadows, win the Bay Meadows Handicap.
As Bay Meadows was facing the end of its 75-year run due to the usual culprit of the changing times, economics and technology in 2008, the San Mateo County Historical Association felt a call to action to get significant film before the entire track went down¡to document the lives affected by the tracks closing. The subculture of the daily activity of the track, the people who were losing something very real, was a sad and poignant thing. The Bay Meadows family and culture are very rich and this film was indeed a labor of love. "The closing of Bay Meadows was like tearing the roots out of your heart", one life-time Bay Meadows backstretch worker admitted. "I walked across the track one morning, shortly before the track closed, and I felt like I was witnessing the ancient ruins of a ghost town" Another said, "what I kept thinking about Bay Meadows at the prospect of its closing is watching live animals competing against each other, no barrier between me and the sights and sounds of the animals, a real un-sanitized, authentic thing, not on a computer, not fabricated, not on television...people are losing that visceral connection."
Featuring breathtaking images and poignant interviews; the life and times of Bay Meadows racetrack in San Mateo, California is explored. The film provides an up-close and personal, behind-the-scenes perspective of operations at the track and the people who called Bay Meadows, "home"; an in-depth look at its fascinating and rich history and eventual closure. The stories, the memories, the people and the horses of Bay Meadows are what this documentary has preserved. Bay Meadows - another casualty of the "American Dream" rapidly disappearing.
|Format(s) Available:||DVD And VHS|
|Category:||U.S. & Canadian Flat Racing|