Horse Racing Race Tracks
Aqueduct Race Track
Aqueduct Racetrack, known as the Big A, is a horse racetrack in the neighborhood of Ozone Park in Queens, New York. It was opened in 1894 and rebuilt in 1959, with additional renovations made in 2001 .
It is the one racetrack located within the New York City limits. Belmont Park -- also operated by the New York Racing Association -- is located outside the city, in Nassau County. (Some of Belmont's adjoining parking facilities and the Belmont train station are in Queens). Yonkers Raceway in Yonkers, New York is a half mile oval harness racing located in Westchester County, NY, just north of the New York City borough of The Bronx.
The track itself has three courses: The Main Track (dirt) has a circumference of 1 1/8 miles (1811 m); inside of this is the Inner Dirt Track (consisting of a special type of dirt over which races are run during the winter months), which is exactly one mile (1609 m) long; and the innermost course is a turf (grass) course, spanning 7 furlongs plus 43 feet (1421 m).
Before 1976, the Inner Dirt Track was a turf course and it was known as the Main Turf Course, with the lone present turf course bearing the name of the Inner Turf Course; following the conclusion of racing in 1975 the grass on the Main Turf Course was uprooted and the Inner Dirt Track took its place to permit year-round racing. (In the first few years after Aqueduct was rebuilt in 1959 the track lay idle from early November until April 1; by 1971 this period had been reduced to from shortly before Christmas until March 1, and in the latter year off-track betting began in New York City, creating a demand for horse racing to be contested in the region throughout the year).
Today a single meeting is held annually at Aqueduct; it typically begins on the last Wednesday in October and runs all the way through the first Sunday in May. Races are run on the Inner Dirt Track between the second Wednesday in December and the third Sunday in March in most years. Prior to 1977, a summer meeting was also conducted at Aqueduct, running from mid-June to the end of July. From 1963 through 1967, races normally run at Belmont Park (including the Belmont Stakes) were run at Aqueduct instead while Belmont's grandstand was being rebuilt.
Today few important races are run at Aqueduct, mainly due to the unfavorable weather conditions that prevail during its racing season; however the prestigious Jockey Club Gold Cup was usually run there between 1958 and 1974, and what was perhaps the track's most distinctive race, the marathon, 2¼ mile (3621 m) Display Handicap, was last contested in 1990. The track did play host to the second ever Breeders' Cup, in 1985.
Arlington Park Race Track
Arlington Park is a horse racetrack in the Chicago suburb of Arlington Heights, Illinois. It officially opened in 1927 to 20,000 spectators. In terms of horse racetracks Arlington has been considered a technology leader. It introduced the first all-electric totalisator in 1933 as well as Chicago's first photo finish camera in 1936. Other technology advancements included installing the first electric starting gate in 1940 and the largest closed circuit TV system in all of sports in 1967 .
In 1971 Arlington introduced the concept of Trifecta wagering. Arlington Park was also the site of the first horse race with a million-dollar purse in 1981. The original grandstand was destroyed in a fire on July 3, 1985 . A new grandstand was built on the grounds and opened on June 28, 1989.
In 2000, Arlington International Racecourse merged with Churchill Downs, Inc. and was renamed Arlington Park, but for most of the world it will always be thought of as Arlington International, America's international leader in thoroughbred racing.
Bay Meadows Race Course in San Mateo can lay claim to being one of the most tradition-laden and innovative racetracks in the country. It also is the longest continually operating racetrack in California. Since its inception in 1934, Bay Meadows has been a venue through which the most famous horses, jockeys and trainers have strolled, and where many "firsts" in racing took place.
Thanks to William P. Kyne, pari-mutuel wagering, the popular Daily Double, the first all-enclosed starting gate, the totalizator board and photo-finish camera were introduced to racing at Bay Meadows. Even the first horse transported by air landed at Bay Meadows. That took place in 1945 when El Lobo was flown from Los Angeles by his owner, country and western entertainer Stuart Hamblem, to contest the Burlingame Handicap. After landing safely on an airstrip adjacent to Bay Meadows, El Lobo completed the history-making journey by winning the race.
Speaking of races, Bay Meadows is home to the longest-running stakes event in California - the Bay Meadows Handicap. This race was inaugurated in 1934 and was captured in 1937 and '38 by the great Seabiscuit, ridden by noted jockey, George Woolf. The Bay Meadows Derby for 3-year-old horses debuted in 1954 with the California-bred Determine winning. Three weeks later, Determine won the Kentucky Derby.
The honor roll of jockeys who have called Bay Meadows home include Bill Shoemaker, John Longden, Ralph Neves and our current kingpin, Russell Baze. Baze passed the legendary Shoemaker and moved into second place on the all-time win list for jockeys when he rode is 8,834th career winner on January 22, 2005. Baze has led the nation in victories seven times – in 2002 (431 wins), 2000 (412), 1996 (415), 1995 (448), 1994 (415), 1993 (410), and 1992 (433) – and has won 400 races 11 of the past 13 years. No other jockey has won 400 races in a year more than three times. Baze has won 32 riding championships at Bay Meadows and 26 at Golden Gate Fields. Baze won the Isaac Murphy Award, a national honor which goes to the jockey with the highest percentage (minimum 500 mounts), for nine strait years (from its inception in 1995 through 2003).
Belmont Park Race Track is a horse-racing facility located just outside New York City, in the adjacent Nassau County suburb of Elmont, Long Island. It is world-famous as the home of the Belmont Stakes, the third leg of the Triple Crown. It first opened May 4, 1905.
According to June 2005 research of several sources, including the Daily Racing Form and Newsday, Belmont has the largest dirt racecourse of any Thoroughbred track in not only North America but the world -- a mile and a half (2414 m). Woodbine Race Course in Toronto has a grass course of the same size; however it is located outside of the dirt track, the only North American track of which this is true. By comparison, the King Abdul Aziz racetrack in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, has a mile-and-a-quarter (2012 m) main track (as does Colonial Downs in Virginia), while Aqueduct is a mile and an eighth (1811 m). (Other grass courses in Europe have been longer, and Saudi Arabian racing once featured a course in old Riyadh from nine to 12 miles (14 to 19 km) in length). Belmont also has the largest grandstand in the sport.
Belmont is known as The Championship Track because most every major champion in racing history since the early 20th century has competed on the racecourse -- including each of the 11 Triple Crown winners.
In addition to its importance to racing, "Beautiful Belmont Park" is often called one of the best-landscaped venues in American sports -- especially because of the stately backyard park behind the grandstand, which includes the paddock in which the horses are saddled before each race. The backyard and backstretch are notable for their huge, attractive trees and landscaping, and the infield is dominated by two picturesque lakes.
With some of the elegant aura of its sister track, Saratoga Race Course, in a suburban setting, Belmont is known as one of the most gorgeous and accommodating racecourses in the world. Along with Saratoga, Churchill Downs in Louisville, and Del Mar and Santa Anita racecourses in California, Belmont is considered one of the elite racetracks in the sport.
Belmont Park is operated by the non-profit New York Racing Association, as are Aqueduct and Saratoga Race Course. The group was formed in 1955 as the Greater New York Association to assume the assets of the individual associations that ran Belmont, Aqueduct , Saratoga and the now-defunct old Jamaica racetrack (The Rochdale Village housing development now occupies the site of Jamaica).
Calder Race Course
May 6, 1971 - Calder Race Course opens for the first time featuring the track designed by 3M.
Calder Race Course invests $10.5 million in improvements.
Bertram Firestone purchases Calder Race Course.
January 1999 -
Churchill Downs Incorporated agrees to purchase Calder Race Course. The acquisition is valued at approximately $86 million.
The Summit of Speed handles $10,541,440, Calder's all-time single day total handle record; Cajun Beat and Shake You Down, who both competed at Calder that day, later finish first and third in the Breeders' Cup Sprint. "Baby Day," a card devoted entirely to 2-year-olds, is introduced (and renamed "Juvenile Showcase" for 2004).
Calder opens card room offering Texas Hold 'Em, Seven Card Stud and Omaha High/Low.
Churchill Downs Race Track, located on Central Avenue in Louisville, Kentucky, is a thoroughbred racetrack most famous for hosting the Kentucky Derby. It officially opened in 1875, and held the first Kentucky Derby and the first Kentucky Oaks in the same year. Churchill Downs has also hosted the renowned Breeders' Cup on five occasions, most recently in 2000, and is scheduled to host that event again in 2006 .
The track is named for John and Henry Churchill, who leased 80 acres (320,000 m²) of land to their nephew, Colonel M. Lewis Clark (grandson of explorer William Clark). The twin spires atop the grandstands are the most recognizable architectural feature of Churchill Downs and are used as a symbol of the track and the Derby. They were designed by architect Joseph Dominic Baldez and built in 1895. Today, Churchill Downs covers 147 acres. Seating capacity is 51,000, though crowds at the Derby can reach over 140,000 because of standing-room only admission to the paddock and infield. The dirt oval main track, on which the Derby is run, is one mile in circumference and is 79 to 80 feet wide, with a 120-foot wide section for the starting gate. A turf track, inside the main track, is 7/8 of a mile and 80 feet wide.
From 2001 to 2005, Churchill Downs underwent a three-and-a-half year, $121 million renovation. The clubhouse was replaced, 79 luxury suites were added, and the historic twin spires were refurbished. One of the additions in the clubhouse was a 36-foot mural by Pierre Bellocq depicting all 96 jockeys to win the Kentucky Derby from 1875 to 2004 .
Racing at Churchill Downs occurs in two meets. The spring meet starts one week before the Derby and continues until July. The Kentucky Derby is held the first Saturday in May and the Kentucky Oaks is run on Friday, the day before the Derby. A fall meet picks up in October and closes in November.
In addition to the track, clubhouse and stables, Churchill Downs also contains the Kentucky Derby Museum which focuses on the history of the Kentucky Derby and Churchill Downs. The museum also contains a number of exhibits exploring the training and racing of thoroughbred horses. It includes a 360-degree cinema that shows the short film "The Greatest Race," a documentary about the Kentucky Derby. The museum is open year-round.
Del Mar Race Track
Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, "where the turf meets the surf," was built by Hollywood's Bing Crosby, Pat O'Brien (actor) and Jimmy Durante in the seaside city of Del Mar, California , located 20 miles north of San Diego. When Del Mar opened in 1937, Bing Crosby was at the gate to personally greet the fans. Its slew of celebrity guests, along with Seabiscuit 's famous 1938 win against Ligaroti secured Del Mar's legendary status.
1937 -- Bing Crosby is there to greet the first fan through the gate as Del Mar opens.
1938 -- The famous Seabiscuit-Ligaroti match race is held on August 12 and it draws 20,000 to the track and a nationwide radio audience. After a furious duel, Seabiscuit under George (The Iceman) Woolf and 130 pounds beats Ligaroti and Noel (Spec) Richardson at 115 by a nose.
1977 -- Bing Crosby makes one final visit to the track he founded, then dies later that year of a heart attack. His memory lives on at Del Mar each summer, though, by virtue of lore, legend and his now famous rendition of "Where the Turf Meets the Surf."
1978 -- A trainer making the switch from quarter horses to thoroughbreds lets the racing world know he's for real when he cuts loose a flashy filly named Terlingua to capture the Del Mar Debutante. The trainer's name is D. Wayne Lukas and he goes on to rewrite racing history by building one of the winningest stables of all time.
1984 -- Trevor Denman, the South African racing commentator whose colorful style changes the nature of race calling in the United States, takes command of the microphone on the Del Mar roof. Thereafter it's "And away they go."
1989 -- Del Mar becomes the leading track in the country with a daily average handle of $7,320,623; Olympic Native sets a track record for seven panels (1:20 1/5) in winning the Pat O'Brien B. C. Handicap; and Bill Shoemaker goes out a winner for the 889th and final time in his very last ride at the seaside oval on September 10.
1993 -- The "new" Del Mar, $80-million worth, is dedicated by Governor Pete Wilson. Trainer Bobby Frankel makes it two-for-three in the $1-million Pacific Classic with 505 Farms and Nahem's Bertrando, Laffit Pincay, Jr. wins the 8,000th race of his remarkable career and the track continues its run in the racing heavens with average handle ($8,122,609) and attendance (34,415).
2000 - For the 10th year in a row, Del Mar and its satellites top the nation in daily average attendance (27,960). Robert Frankel does it again (!) when he saddles Skimming to take the Pacific Classic for the trainer¹s fifth win in 10 runnings of the $1-million race. Bob Baffert captures his fourth straight conditioning title and rising star Victor Espinoza is champion rider. And it all gets seen on the track¹s new video boards in the infield and the paddock.
2003 -- Del Mar was saddened with the passing of two of its riding stars, John Longden and Bill Shoemaker. South American ace Candy Ride sets a track record (1:59.11) in winning the Pacific Classic. The betting goes higher still with another record season ($570,903,890). Bob Baffert and Pat Valenzuela are the training and riding champs again, and Valenzuela and Hall of Famer Julie Krone - making a big splash in her first season at the shore - put on a match race for the ages with P Val winning it by a whisker.
Fair Grounds Race Track
1852-- Union Race Course, which today is the site of Fair Grounds, is laid out on Gentilly Road, thus making it the oldest site of racing in America still in operation. Two other tracks, the Metairie and Louisiana Courses, both laid out in 1838, are in operation as well.
1934-- A syndicate headed by Robert S. eddy Jr., Joseph Cattarinich and associates, operators of Jefferson Park, acquires Fair Grounds for $375,000.
1941-- On January 2, Fair Grounds goes on the auction block, but at the last moment is saved from destruction by Sylvester W. Labrot Jr. who, armed with a 30-day option which was purchased by William G. Helis, puts together a group of New Orleans horsemen/businessmen that form the Fair Grounds Corporation. John S. Letellier, Anthony Pelleteri, and Herbert J. Schwartz are among the investors. The Fair Grounds Breeders and Racing Association is formed to oversee racing. When the winter meeting opens on Christmas Day, Alfred Vanderbilt, Charles T. Fisher, J.L. Sullivan, Walter Chrysler, Valdina Farms, and King Ranch are represented by stables.
April 12, 1990-- Fair Grounds is sold as the Krantz family, owners of Jefferson Downs, purchases controlling stock interest from the Roussel group.
1991-- Fair Grounds hosts the first Louisiana Champion Day on December 7. The day is dedicated to an all Louisiana-bred, ten-race program with purses totaling over $700,000. A total of 14,989 fans wagered $1,624,398 on the card.
2001-- Fair Grounds sets total handle record ($430 million) for a seventh straight season. Louisiana-bred filly Hallowed Dreams wins the Victoria Lass Handicap on March 17 in track-record time of 1:08.34 for six furlongs, improving her record to 20 wins from 21 starts. Fair Grounds Net Bet launches in spring.
2002-- War Emblem, who started three times at Fair Grounds in the 2001-02 meet, wins the Kentucky Derby and Preakness. Lecomte Stakes and Whirlaway Handicap elevated to Grade III status beginning in 2003, giving Fair Grounds eight graded stakes, its most ever. Mountain General runs six furlongs in 1:08.03 to set track record in Thanksgiving Handicap on opening day of 2002-03 season. Fair Grounds-based Steve Asmussen leads all trainers nationally with 407 wins.
1939 -- Gulfstream opened Wednesday, Feb. 1, conducting a four-day meeting. The opener drew a crowd of 18,000 and wagering of $224,287. John C. Horning, a building contractor, was the chief stockholder.
1946 -- The Gulfstream Park Handicap was run for the first time.
1981 -- Gulfstream became the first Florida track to crack the $100 million wagering plateau with a state record handle of $103,531,722 for a 50-day winter meeting. The one-day wagering mark also fell on Florida Derby Day (March 6) with mutuels of $4,090,109. In addition, Super Six with Jackpot and Early Bird betting features were instituted.
1990 -- Gulfstream Park was purchased by noted thoroughbred owners and breeders Bertram and Diana Firestone. The 90-day meeting resulted in state record handle of $167,552,397.
1992 -- Gulfstream Park was acquired from Bertram and Diana Firestone by Orient Corporation (USA). Unbridled and Housebuster were enshrined in the Garden of Champions, boosting the total number of national champions who raced at Gulfstream to 91. The average daily handle of $2,541,157 was a state record. The internationally acclaimed turf course was extended to one mile and a furlong by the addition of a chute at the north end. Sonny Hine was the leading trainer and Julie Krone won the riding title.
1995 -- Cigar was the story at the 63-day meeting, winning the Donn Handicap (G1) and Gulfstream Park Handicap (G1) en route to an undefeated season and Horse of the Year honors. Jockey Jerry Bailey won seven races on March 11 (Florida Derby Day) erasing the mark of six set by Charlie Burr in 1953. A record total mutuel handle of $622,039,493 was wagered.
2003 -- Gulfstream established a Florida record for pari-mutuel handle for a single racing meet with a total of $825.3 million wagered during its 89-day season, a meet which saw the introduction of the Sunshine Millions and records set by owner Michael Gill and trainer Mark Shuman. The Sunshine Millions, contested on Jan. 25, pitted Florida-breds vs. California-breds for $3.6 million in purses at Gulfstream and Santa Anita. The inaugural was attended by more than 36,000 fans at the two tracks and was covered nationally by NBC. Gill's horses won 88 races and Shuman saddled 87 of those winners. Eibar Coa won his first Gulfstream jockey championship with 91 winners. Field sizes were augmented by horses stabling at Palm Meadows, MEC's state-of-the-art training center, which opened shortly before the season began.
1890 - October 20 - Edward Corrigan purchases 119 acres of land in Cicero Township and construction begins on the Hawthorne grandstand.
1902 - May 30 - Hawthorne grandstand burns to the ground. Corrigan immediately transfers the balance of the Spring meet to nearby Harlem racetrack.
1905 - Racing is banned in Chicago.
1938 - Hawthorne installs a new tote system, American Totalizator.
1948 - Turf racing returns to Hawthorne after a 44-year absence.
1966 - For the first time in its history, Hawthorne handles over $1 million every day of the meeting.
1987 - Off-track wagering debuts in Illinois at Hawthorn.
1991 - Hawthorne's 100th anniversary is celebrated.
Hollywood Park is a thoroughbred racecourse located in Inglewood, California, about 3 miles (5 km) from Los Angeles International Airport and next door to the Great Western Forum. It is currently one of the family of racecourses owned by Churchill Downs. The current track is 1-1/8 miles (1.811 km).
The track opened in 1938 as the Hollywood Turf Club. Its original chairman was Jack Warner; its original 600 shareholders included many Hollywood luminaries. Hollywood Park closed from 1942 to 1944 due to World War II, being used as a storage facility. In 1949 , the original grandstand and clubhouse were destroyed by a fire; the rebuilt facility reopened in 1950 . A casino was added to the complex in 1994.
In July 2005, Churchill Downs sold the track to the Bay Meadows Land Company for $260 million in cash. Under the terms of the deal, the Bay Meadows Land Company, which operates Bay Meadows Race Course in San Mateo, will continue thoroughbred racing at the track for at least three more years. According to Bay Meadows officials, the continuation of Hollywood Park as a racing venue after that depends on California allowing the addition of alternative forms of gambling, such as slot machines, to the track.
Keeneland is a thoroughbred horse racing and sales complex in Lexington, Kentucky .
The racing side of Keeneland, Keeneland Race Course, has conducted live race meets in April and October since 1936. It added a grass course in 1985. The spring meet contains several preps for the Kentucky Derby (held the first Saturday in May), the most notable of which is the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes. The fall meet features several Breeders' Cup preps.
Keeneland takes pride in maintaining racing traditions; it was the last track in North America to broadcast race calls over its public-address system, not doing so until the 1980s. Most of the racing scenes of the 2003 movie Seabiscuit were shot at Keeneland because its appearance has changed relatively little in the last several decades.
In the thoroughbred racing world, Keeneland is equally famous for its other side—its sales operation. It holds five annual horse auctions that attract buyers worldwide:
This sale, as its name implies, features horses of all ages. Breeding "seasons"—the rights to breed one mare to a specified stallion in a given year—are also sold at this auction.
- January - Horses of All Ages
This sale was added in 1993 in response to demand by owners wishing to buy horses in training.
This sale, conducted since 1943 , is the most prestigious thoroughbred sale in the world. Numerous champions, including 11 Kentucky Derby winners, have been sold here. The yearlings sold here are selected by pedigree, and must pass a physical conformation test before being allowed into the sales ring.
This sale, the world's largest sale of yearlings, has been conducted at various times in the fall since 1944 , and was permanently moved to September in 1960 . Yearlings sold here need not meet any pedigree or conformation tests unless they are to be sold in "Selected Sessions." In recent years, the September sale has produced a Kentucky Derby winner, an Epsom Derby winner, and a U.S. Horse of the Year.
- April - Two-Year-Olds in Training
- November - Breeding Stock
This sale features all horses capable of breeding, except for yearlings. Stallion "shares"—ownership interests in specific stallions—and seasons are also sold at this auction. Over the years, this has become the world's largest sale of thoroughbreds.
Lone Star Park
Lone Star Race Course is a horse racing track located in Grand Prairie, Texas . Lone Star Park opened in 1997. In October of 2002, Magna Entertainment Corp. (MEC), based in Aurora, Ontario, leased the facility and acquired the operations. In 2004, it was the site of the Breeders' Cup .
Monmouth Park - Main Track
The main track is a one mile oval with 12 inches of aggregate sand drainage and 12 inches of crushed stone screenings. The cushion is 4 inches of sand and topsoil, the topsoil comprised of 83% silt and 17% loam. The length of the stretch is 985 feet, with a width of 100 feet, while the backstretch width is 90 feet. There are chutes for six furlong and 1 1/4 mile races.
Monmouth Park - Turf Course
The turf course is a mixture of four kinds of bluegrass. A new irrigation system was installed in 1996. It is seven-eighths of a mile with a chute for 1 1/16 and 1 1/8 mile races. The width of the course is approximately 90 feet, while the chute width is 100 feet.
Races conducted on the Monmouth turf course are run from four different distances – on the rail (hedge), 10 feet out (Haskell Course), 20 feet out (Monmouth Course) and 30 feet out (Lennox Course) – to preserve the course as far into the race meet as possible. Races run on the rail can ccommodate 12 horses, the Haskell Course 11 entrants, the Monmouth Course 10 and the Lennox nine.
Paddock & Walking Ring
Located behind the clubhouse, the paddock consists of a 16-stall oak wood saddling enclosure leading to a woodchip English walking ring shaded by a mix of European fern leaf and American purple leaf beech trees. A new beech was planted prior to the 2000 season. The horses are saddled under the enclosure, then paraded in the walking ring before being mounted by their jockeys. Each Thoroughbred is then led by his groom through the breezeway, which divides the grandstand and the clubhouse, before reaching the track and the traditional post parade.
1905 On February 24, Oaklawn presented its first racing card. A crowd of some 3,000 attended, Hot Springs Mayor John Belding having declared a half-holiday for the city. The presiding judge was Joseph Murphy. The first race at the new track was won by Duelist, owned by John W. Schorr, a prominent Memphis sportsman who would become America's champion owner in 1912 and again in 1914.
1944 Because of World War Il, racing was being curtailed at many tracks in 1944, but Oaklawn ushered in its 30 day meeting, February 28. The meeting attendance of 140,494 and pari-mutuel play of $8,581,748 were records.
1991 Complete renovation of the Oaklawn Club met with rave reviews. The addition of TV monitors at each table along with new china, mutuel lines and lavish fixtures were joined with new chef, Jake Duplantis, to create one of the finest clubs in American racing.
1996 Oaklawn achieved a record combined handle of $10,653,518 on Arkansas Derby Day. On-track handle was a season's best $4,394,989.
2003 In spite of losing six days to weather-related causes, the season ended on a high note as 61,752 attended Arkansas Derby Day and wagered over $12.8 million. Azeri nosed out Take Charge Lady in one of the greatest races in Oaklawn history, the Apple Blossom Handicap. Cole Norman won his third straight trainers title and saddled 71 winners, easily breaking the record of 50 wins established in by David Vance. Jamie Theriot edged Terry Thompson, 71-69 for jockey honors.
Philadelphia Park Race track is a thoroughbred horse racetrack. Originally called Keystone Racetrack, it opened in November of 1974 in Bensalem, Pennsylvania . Purchased in 1984 by ITB, the racetrack received its new name, a new turf course, and an exciting, innovative new way to wager called Phonebet.
In December of 1990, the racetrack again changed hands. Greenwood Racing, Inc., a corporation founded in 1989 by British bookmaking veterans Bob Green and Bill Hogwood purchased the oval from ITB. Full card simulcasting was added as well as five off-track locations called Turf Clubs. Race fans are able to watch and wager on the best racing around the world seven days a week.
Late in 1998, Greenwood joined with fellow Pennsylvania Corporation, Penn National Gaming, in expanding into New Jersey with the purchase of Freehold Raceway in Freehold, NJ and the operating lease of Garden State Park in Cherry Hill, NJ. The new partnership, called Pennwood, is expected to pursue off-track and account wagering in the New Jersey .
Over the years, such notable horses as Smarty Jones , Shuvee, Gallant Bob, My Juliet, Spectacular Bid, Revidere, Summer Squall, and Broad Brush have found their way to the winner's circle at Philadelphia Park.
Philadelphia Park Racetrack is proud to be the home of Pennsylvania's premier thoroughbred race, the $500,000 grade III Pennsylvania Derby. Held on Labor Day , the Pennsylvania Derby is a nine furlong (1811 m) race for three year olds and has consistently attracted quality fields, and large crowds. Over the past few years, the Pennsylvania Derby has evolved into a three-day festival at the racetrack. The festival last all of Labor Day weekend with the culmination on Labor Day with the running of the Derby.
Pimlico Race Course
Pimlico Race Track is a horse racetrack in Baltimore, Maryland, most famous for hosting the Preakness Stakes . It officially opened in 1870, and held the first Preakness Stakes in 1873. The track is also noted as the home for the match race in which Seabiscuit beat War Admiral in the second Pimlico Special , on November 1, 1938 before a crowd of 43,000.
Santa Anita Park
Santa Anita Race Track in Arcadia, California opened in 1934 and is the oldest and most prestigious horse racetrack in Southern California. Founded by the Los Angeles Turf Club , its success was built on the Santa Anita Handicap , whose $100,000 purse made it the richest race in America. The race is still held there, and is presently a Grade 1 listed race, with a prize of over $1 million. The track is the site of the Santa Anita Derby , run for three-year-olds each April as an important prep to the Kentucky Derby .
Due to its proximity to Los Angeles , Santa Anita has traditionally been associated with the film and television industries. The Marx Brothers classic A Day at the Races was filmed there, and many stars, including Bing Crosby , Spencer Tracy , Errol Flynn , Alex Trebek and MGM mogul, Louis B. Mayer have owned horses that raced there.
Santa Anita was also the home track of the great thoroughbred Seabiscuit . The track boasts statues of both Seabiscuit and George Woolf , hailed as the best jockey of his generation, who owned the nearby Derby Arcadia restaurant. Since 1950, Santa Anita Park has annually presented the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award to a rider who demonstrates high standards of personal and professional conduct, on and off the racetrack.
During World War II the U.S. government used the site for interJapanese Americannment activities and then turned it into an Army base. It is presently undergoing a controversial reconstruction that threatens the original Art Deco exterior.
The track is today owned by Magna Entertainment Corp who own a number of major thoroughbred racing facilities throughout the United States.
Saratoga Race Track
Saratoga Race Course is a famous horse-racing track in Saratoga Springs, New York. Saratoga racetrack opened in 1863 .
Since 1864 the track -- nicknamed the Spa -- has been the site of the Travers Stakes, the oldest major thoroughbred horse race in the United States, which is the main event of the annual summer race meeting at Saratoga. The Saratoga meet originally consisted of only four weeks but was subsequently lengthened to five weeks, and today a six-week meeting is observed, with Labor Day now being the last day of racing. In 1943, 1944 and 1945, racing was not held at Saratoga due to travel restrictions brought on by World War II; in those years, the stakes races that would have been run at Saratoga were contested at Belmont Park instead.
As is the case with the other two tracks operated by the New York Racing Association - Aqueduct and Belmont Park - there are three separate courses at Saratoga: a main (dirt) track, which, like that at Aqueduct, has a 1 1/8 mile (1,811 m) circumference; an outer turf course (known officially as the Mellon Turf Course, in honor of the Mellon family, whose members include former United States Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon and has a long history of involvement with horse racing), which is 1 mile plus 98 feet long; and an inner turf course, the circumference of which is 26 feet (7.9 m) shorter than 7½ furlongs (1,509 m). Steeplechase races are also run at Saratoga and may take place on either of the aforementioned turf courses, depending on the distance of the race.
A former distinctive feature of Saratoga's dirt track was the Wilson Mile chute, which branched off from the clubhouse (first) turn at a 90 degree angle. After the 1971 meeting, its use was suspended; following a brief resumption during the late 1980s and early 1990s , it was dismantled, leaving no distance available for dirt races between 7 furlongs and 1 1/8 miles (1,408 and 1,811 m). A similarly-designed chute is still in use at Ellis Park, a racetrack in Kentucky, and is the only such chute of its kind that can be found at any North American track today.
Saratoga Race Course has two well-known nicknames -- the Spa, and the "Graveyard of Favorites" for the upsets that have occurred there. Man O' War suffered his only defeat in 21 starts while racing at Saratoga and U.S. Triple Crown champion Gallant Fox was beaten by a 100-1 longshot named "Jim Dandy" in the 1930 Travers Stakes.
In 1954 Phoenix businessman Walter Cluer, purchased 1,400 acres of barren desert at what is now Bell Road and 19 th Avenue. Cluer a successful millwork founder and manufacturer, was also a horse owner. Although Cluer's education consisted only of an eighth grade diploma, he had a passion to make a personal dream a reality: Building a first-class race track in Phoenix.
There were more than a few locals who thought Cluer's ambitious pronouncement was ill timed and doomed to failure. After all, the property was 25 miles from the hustle and bustle of burgeoning metropolis of downtown Phoenix and the only way to get there was via a few badly maintained dirt roads. But like any man on a mission, Cluer was not to be dissuaded by the naysayers. On January 7, 1956, Turf Paradise opened its doors and Phoenicians responded by filling every seat and standing shoulder-to-shoulder to welcome pari-mutuel racing to Arizona and the Valley's first sports franchise.
Cluer remained as head of the track for nearly 25 years. Then in 1980, Herb Owens took over and Turf Paradise entered into its renovation phase. The Clubhouse was enlarged and an elegant Turf Club with a penthouse-style Directors' Suite and outdoor patio were added. Racing wise, the track constructed a seven-furlong infield turf course with a one mile and one-eighth chute.
In 1989, Turf Paradise's third owner, Robert Walker, purchased and guided the track into yet another new territory: Off Track Betting. Walker, of Scottsdale had made his fortune with an aerospace company he had founded and sold. Walker's formula was the right approach at the right time as he retired the track's outstanding debt and declared the first-ever dividend for Turf Paradise stockholders. In addition, Walker, and a consortium of horse racing interests, successfully lobbied the Arizona Legislature to legalize off track betting. The in-state OTB network is perhaps Walker's greatest contribution to the track and Arizona's racing industry. What started out as a single OTB site in little Cave Creek (pop. 4,000) in 1991, has now blossomed into over 45 in-state OTB's and over 900 out-of-state locales, located in six different countries.
Turf Paradise took on a corporate face when in 1994 the track was purchased in a stock acquisition by California-based Hollywood Park, under the chairmanship of R.D. Hubbard. Despite intense competition from multiple Native American in-state casino gaming interests, Turf Paradise continued to flourish and achieve record mutuel handle numbers.
The new millennium provided Turf Paradise with a new owner in Jerry Simms. The self-made multi-millionaire purchased Turf Paradise on June 16, 2000 for $53 million. Mixing business acumen and savvy entrepreneurship, Simms Midas-touched modest investments in automobile dealerships, residential and commercial real estate ventures and banking in southern California, into a fortune.
Simms immediately set out a $5 million renovation plan designed to enhance the racing experience with a quality dining and entertainment ambience. Both the Clubhouse and Turf Club were completely renovated and re-styled to elegant and comfortable décor. Two race book-style betting carrels, of 80 private terminals each, were added, one in the Clubhouse and the other adjacent to the Turf Club.
In addition, Simms had the main track and turf course renovated. Then, in the summer of 2003, Simms had built a $125,000 equine swimming pool, in the stable area of the race track. The 30' x 60' pool is state of the art horse therapy for the over 2,200 thoroughbreds stabled on the backside. Containing over 140,000 gallons of water and 12' deep, the pool accommodates up to six horses at a time. The pool had an immediate effect, not only on equine health but on field size.
Simms ushered his track into 2004 on healthy financial footing. Purchasing property at the busy 19 th Avenue and Bell Road intersection adjacent to the race track, Simms made astute use of land for commercial development while enhancing the racing operation.
2005 Racing Dates for Turfway Park Race Racetrack
January 1 - April 7
September 7 - October 6
November 27 - December 31
Horse racing in Delaware began during the Colonial period, with the first formal racing facility being built in the town of Newark in 1760. County fairs perpetuated the sport until the Depression Era of World War I. Although betting was not allowed, private wagers among gentlemen were made.
Delaware Park did not make the first attempt to create an organized thoroughbred meeting. The Elsmere Exhibitor's & Breeders Association scheduled a 15-day meet at the Elsmere Fair Grounds in June of 1928, but the effort was discontinued after the second day when the Attorney General's office ruled the donation system being used was against existing state law.
Although conservatives had battled horse racing in Delaware for many years, the state's need for money during the Depression outweighed the supposed "ill effects" of gambling. In 1933, legislation was passed to create the Delaware Racing Commission and in 1935 it was given the power to grant licenses for the selling of pools by pari-mutuel machines and to receive wagers "within the enclosure of any horse race meeting licensed and conducted under this act."
In 1936, the Delaware Racing Commission met with the Delaware Steeplechase and Race Association, Inc., a group of five area businessmen including William DuPont, Jr. The Association submitted a proposal to the Commission that was intended to "promote the breeding of thoroughbred horses and the establishment of a race track." The group of businessmen had purchased a large amount of land in Stanton and was beginning to build a racing facility. A bill was introduced to the House that increased the number of race days from 20 to 30 and added a tax of 20 cents on every free ticket issued for admission to any race meeting held in the state. The bill passed the House and Senate and was signed into law.
Crowds of more than 20,000 were commonplace at Delaware Park
William DuPont, Jr., the designer of 23 racing courses, including Fair Hill, a steeplechase course in Cecil County, Maryland, designed Delaware Park, which opened June 26, 1937 with a 30-day meet. The original Delaware Park facilities consisted of an open-air, 7,500 seat grandstand with an innovative tiered Clubhouse/Turf Club on the upper level. The track itself was a one-mile dirt oval with a pair of steeplechase turf courses. The backstretch contained stables for 1,226 horses. The outstanding features of Delaware Park were the exquisite architecture and the saddling and picnic grove areas.
The racing business was welcomed by the community and the sport flourished, although the track was forced to close briefly in 1943 during World War II. After reopening in 1944, Delaware Park became profitable, with a handle of more than $23 million from 288,000 customers.
In 1958, a $2.8 million expansion was completed, including the building of a new clubhouse and the enlargement of the grandstand, resulting in the doubling of the seating capacity. Televisions were added and the winner's circle was built.
Delaware Park, with its prime location, became a haven for summer racing fans throughout the Middle Atlantic region. Trainloads of racegoers came via the P & O and Pennsylvania Railroads to the trackside terminals. Scores of buses rolled in daily from Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New
York. Crowds of more than 20,000 were commonplace on Saturdays.
As the 1970s approached, Delaware Park's prime location began to work as a disadvantage. The expansion of racing dates at nearby Garden State Park, Atlantic City Racecourse and at the New York and Maryland tracks caused an overlapping of schedules. The east coast racing circuit was ending and each state was forming its own. As a result, the many fans and horsemen who travelled to Delaware Park from adjoining states were staying in their own backyards.
The commencement of thoroughbred racing at Liberty Bell Park and later at Keystone Race Track brought the competition 50 miles closer. At various times, Keystone (now Philadelphia Park) and Garden State Park raced in conflict with Delaware Park. In 1976, the last out-of-state market disappeared when Maryland added summer racing at Bowie, creating head-to-head competition during the Delaware Park meet.
Delaware Park's marketing area was reduced to one-fifth of any nearby racetrack. Surrounding tracks all had at least one major city and three major counties, each with a greater population than the entire state of Delaware. A significant decline in profits caused by the erosion of its fan base forced the track to officially close its doors on September 6, 1982. In late 1983, William Rickman, Sr., a Rockville, Maryland developer of office buildings, acquired Delaware Park in partnership with Maryland based horseman William Christmas. The track reopened in the spring of 1984 with a weekend-only meet ending Memorial Day. A second meet with a three-day-per-week format was attempted in the fall, but it ended prematurely due to heavy financial losses.
In the winter of 1985, William Rickman, Sr. took full control of Delaware Park determined to turn the ailing track around. The 1985 season brought moderate success to Delaware Park. The opening of the new, $180 million Garden State Park in Cherry Hill, New Jersey had a positive impact, as the track's media blitz caused a new awareness of racing in the Delaware Valley. Also, with Garden State Park engaging in night racing, Delaware Park attracted many Philadelphia area fans who preferred day racing. Garden State's owners, International Thoroughbred Breeders, Inc., purchased nearby Keystone Race Track and renamed it Philadelphia Park. The track, which normally opened in the summer opposite Delaware Park, remained closed until Labor Day for renovations, giving Delaware Park sole access to Philadelphia fans in the pivotal year of 1985.
The season ended with a $522,134 daily average handle. A new high mark was set for the new Delaware Park when over $1 million was wagered on Kentucky Derby day. Under the direction of William Rickman, Sr., Delaware Park was successful in meeting an onslaught of competition from neighboring states over the next several years. This competition came from many directions. Philadelphia Park began a network of off-track betting parlors bringing racing action to sites only 30-miles from Delaware Park. The Pennsylvania track also initiated telephone wagering via cable TV. Fans residing just seven miles from Delaware Park could watch and wager on the races from their homes in Pennsylvania.
Garden State Park also made changes in its schedule that conflicted with Delaware Park. They included the start of Sunday racing and for several years, moving weekend racing to daytime, resulting in three tracks within a 60-mile radius operating at once (and if Maryland is included, four tracks within 75 miles).
Delaware Park responded with force to counter this "war" on racing markets. Track general manager John E. Mooney adopted the successful Twin Trifecta wager from Suffolk Downs, becoming the first area facility to offer the exciting wager. A then record payoff of nearly $700,000 generated massive publicity and let fans know that Delaware Park was still on the map. Delaware Park took advantage of its trackside picnic grove by developing a series of family-oriented promotions that was successful in attracting a new breed of fan. The track took a page out of amusement parks and minor league baseball by opening its doors for local area entertainment.
The historic Stanton track continued its aggressive approach by encouraging Arabian racing to come to Delaware, which not only helped fill the racing cards, but again attracted a new interest in racing as a whole. In 1986, former track chairman Baird Brittingham was instrumental in bringing back the prestigious Delaware Handicap, which had been moved to Saratoga after the 1982 closing of Delaware Park.
Although the track's bottom line was marginal, it surprised most skeptics by out drawing its competition on most days when all were in operation. In the summer of 1993, William Rickman, Jr., took the day-to-day reins of the racetrack from his father.
Delaware Park concentrated on offering local fans a schedule of multiple racing choices and created a comfortable atmosphere to watch simulcasting year-round. By mid-season, Delaware Park began sending its simulcast signal to other tracks and OTBs throughout the country.
In 1995, Delaware Park began a major promotional campaign to increase the number of tracks receiving its signal during the live meet. Total handle for the 1995 live racing season soared to an all-time record of $91 million. Purses for live racing, which a year earlier had been $48,000 per day, were increased several times and reached an impressive $92,000 daily at the end of the live meet. That figure was similar to Philadelphia Park and ahead of Garden State. While the track's simulcast operation continued to grow, William Rickman, Jr. personally took charge of efforts to seek video lottery legislation. In June 1994, the Delaware General Assembly passed H.B. 628, The Horse Racing Redevelopment Act, legalizing slot machine gambling at Delaware racetracks. Under the direction of the Delaware State Lottery, legislation was enacted to introduce slots at Delaware Park Dover Downs, and Harrington Raceway. Fueled with new optimism, William Rickman, Jr. began the plans to make Delaware Park a major league entertainment complex.
On December 29, 1995, the slot facility opened and thus began the "new era of the grand tradition at Delaware Park."