By Alex Owens
Downtown lounge first to offer off-track horse betting
In gambling, few things are a sure bet.
Phil Balderamos believes he’s found one near the Gaslamp Quarter.
Balderamos is the man behind Striders — a luxury sports lounge located at the Harbor Club Towers — the first lounge in the area to allow off-track betting on horse races from racetracks around the world.
As managing director of Sportech Venues California, Balderamos has been working for two years to get the luxury lounge going Downtown and he believes it’s going to pay off big with various types of people.
“We see Striders appealing to four types of people: people who want to be on the horse races; locals who want a great neighborhood bar; people who want to watch sports — we have more than 150 TVs; and Convention Center visitors [because] we are the closest place for food and drink,” Balderamos said.
Striders is the only place north of Tijuana and south of Del Mar where people can bet on the horses, and people will be able to so from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays.
When Del Mar isn’t running, racing fans will be able to bet on the ponies at Santa Anita, Los Alamitos, Belmont, and even races outside the U.S.
“If people don’t like driving that far to Del Mar, this is a good way to enjoy it,” Balderamos said.
The project is getting the full support of Del Mar Track officials like Josh Rubinstein, the track’s Chief Operating Officer.
“The California horse racing industry could not be more pleased with our newest mini-satellite wagering location at Striders,” Rubinstein said. “Striders will be a great way to keep the fun of horse racing going [when Del Mar isn’t in season.]”
The betting is confined to the second floor of the 8,200-square-foot club, which has a 360-degree view of the area.
Balderamos said that every effort is being made to make the experience enjoyable for both seasoned horse racing fans as well as newbies.
“We see it as a non-threatening, nice-looking place with a friendly staff,” he said. “Employees will tell people the basics if they are unfamiliar with them.”
Being able to place bets makes Striders different from other bars and restaurants in the area, but it’s only one part of the package, Balderamos said. The goal is to make Striders as much of a food and drink destination as it should be for betting.
The menu, created by Executive Chef Rodrigo Campos, is seasonal and reinvents classic American dishes. Think mushroom po’boy sandwiches or seared ahi sliders.
The cocktail menu includes unique drinks like a Caprese martini, made with vodka, tomato water and a skewer of mozzarella cheese.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a San Diego bar without lots of local beer options.
Striders plans to feature a wide selection of local craft brews, but the lounge is taking the extra step of having award-winning craft brewer Mike Hess Brewing create its own signature suds, Striders Pale Ale.
“Beer is key to locals and visitors,” Balderamos said. “People want to try them and why not? They’re the best.”
Striders is located at 100 Harbor Drive, and is open weeknights from 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. and until 11 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For more information, visit striders.com.
—Alex Owens is a San Diego-based freelance writer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org