The Museum on Main's current exhibit, "The Home Stretch," brings to life Pleasanton's rich history of horse racing.
Featuring historical items used at the Alameda County Fairgrounds over the decades, the display at the downtown museum includes objects and documents such as jockey silks, horse care supplies, shoeing equipment and tack. Many of the items were donated by Pleasanton's racing community
"Horse racing was actually part of Pleasanton before there was even a Pleasanton," museum curator Ken MacLennan said. "Before the town was founded, the rancheros who had moved here, out here in the 1850s, when they had to defend their claims, had a horse racing culture."
"The exhibit is supposed to help tell the story of horse racing in Pleasanton and how tightly bound up with the development of the town the sport has been" he added.
For generations, horse racing in Pleasanton has been synonymous with the fairgrounds, which features the oldest one-mile horse race track in the United States. Still in operation, the track has hosted a full slate of racing during this summer's Alameda County Fair, which runs through this Sunday.
"You can't help but notice that Bay Meadows had to close and that there are fewer venues -- but it's also hard to tease out the threads of that because on the one hand, you may be having fewer live races but on the other hand, you've got off track betting all over the place," MacLennan said.
Museum volunteer Maureen Morley noted that the horse races during the fair have been a major attraction to the Pleasanton area.
"Hopefully through the exhibit, people can learn more about the history and then be able to attend the fair and attend the races with a deeper appreciation," Morley said.
"My original hope is that people in the community would come on over and take a look at the exhibit and be able to learn more about the track and its history and its relationship to the town and its relationship to the fair and have a deeper appreciation of this rich history that they're now living apart of by being a Pleasanton resident," Morley added.
The exhibition is on display through July 30 at the museum at 603 Main St. It is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To learn more, visit www.museumonmain.org.