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Play the Ponies at Striders, Downtown's Swanky New Sports Bar

It's a new breed of OTB.

Fresh out of the gate is Striders, which recently opened at the base of the Harbor Club; for San Diegans with long memories, the multi-level space, which has been dormant for several years, was once home to the clubby, Italian-ish Galileo 101.

New ownership, which includes several local partners and a UK-based company, have put a chunk of change into revamping the site into an upscale restaurant, bar and lounge that also happens to be the only spot, besides casinos and Del Mar's "on-track" Race Place, where you can wager on horse races in the San Diego area. It's the flagship for brand, which has plans to open more Striders locations within California where the expansion of off-track betting was legalized in 2008; with 180 TVs and Las Vegas-style luxury, F & B Operations Director Bo Olsen, who worked with the Cohn Restaurant Group and The Ritz-Carlton, calls the concept a "high-end, high-tech adult playground".

The ground floor includes two patios, a horseshoe-shaped bar serving 24 beers on tap, including the house Striders Pale Ale made in collaboration with North Park's Mike Hess Brewing, plus wine and cocktails based on fresh juices; Striders will offer a daily 3 to 6 p.m. happy hour with specials on drinks and small plates. A open kitchen, helmed by executive chef Rodrigo Campos (Truluck's), is viewable from the dining room, and cooks up a menu that ranges from starters, salads and small plates to entrees that include scallops and Scottish salmon.

Meanwhile, open Wednesday through Saturday in accordance with the racing schedule is the upstairs paddock bar, which houses Striders' official wagering office and a wall of TVs broadcasting horse races from all over the world. By May, just in time for the Kentucky Derby, Striders intends to expand its footprint to include a new VIP lounge and a third bar.

Striders Club And Lounge

1st And J, San Diego, CA 92101 (619) 363-7166