The Great American Race Track Project, 1865 to 2012

Feb 24th 2012 12:00 pm |

From official souvenir, stake ... Digital ID: 414988. New York Public LibraryI missed posting last week because I went down the rabbit hole of a project that I have been thinking about starting for a few years. I mentioned the idea in a post I did about thoroughbred race tracks in 2009.

The idea is to document every thoroughbred race track in the United States. Before I even began compiling sources to consult, I came up with the grandiose name of “The Great American Race Track Project” — it’s now linked at the top of the page.

Once I had a name, I began thumbing and clicking through sources but soon realized I needed some guidelines to work with. This is what I came up with:

  • Race track must have been located within the United States
  • Track must have hosted thoroughbred racing at anytime from 1865 to the present
  • All entries in the Great American Race Track project will include a cited source (primary or secondary) with the exception of tracks currently operating or recently closed
  • The opened and closed dates are for the first and last year the track hosted thoroughbred racing

 

As it stands now, I have documented nearly 200 tracks, but the list is far from complete. In some cases, I only have a reference to a particular track but have not found documented information about opening and closing dates.

I was hesitant about posting this but decided to share it in it’s current form, warts and all. My hope is to get some help from Colin’s Ghost readers to fill in missing information. I especially need help on data for tracks in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

I have created a project page that has all the information you need to share your knowledge. This is an ongoing project with an indefinite end point. I plan on working on it throughout the year and beyond, it should be fun.

Please take a look at the project page and contribute what you can:

The Great American Race Track Project, 1865 to 2012

UPDATE (2/27):  I have received lots of feedback about the list — many thanks!  I knew it was incomplete when I posted it and will be updating the information throughout week.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

Filed in Race Tracks, United States,thoroughbred racing history



12 Responses to “The Great American Race Track Project, 1865 to 2012”

  1. Jim Melia says:

    Lincoln Downs (Rhode Island) closed in 1976. I will be back to work at the National Museum of Racing on April 9 and I can fill-in any gaps at that time.

    Jim Melia

  2. Rick Davies says:

    Sounds like a lot of fun and work. Good luck!

  3. A number one great project – It will take you time, but it will bring back some of the past that should not be forgotten, Maggie

  4. ljk says:

    Just curious as to why 1865? Many famous tracks, especially around New Orleans, prior to that date.

  5. Don Reed says:

    When the baseball, BB, FB teams started to lose revenues, they pulled up roots and relocated.

    Not so for the racetracks, that when the jig was up, could not be transplanted.

  6. Duane says:

    Tropical Park FL was still open in 1971. That may have been the last year. You had it closed in 1967 on your spreadsheet.

  7. Richard Garrison says:

    Ft. Miami 1943 opened, Ft. Steuben open 1944, Lancaster closed 1939 all in OH and there were more in the 30’s

  8. RG says:

    Hollywood Park burnt down in 1949 and the meet was held at Santa Anita.

    Arlington Park burnt down in 1985 and didn’t re-open till 1989.

    Do they get a #1 and #2?

    Tracks in Toledo , Ohio area in the 50’s.
    Fort Miami from 1952-57 and Maumee Downs opened in 1958. Source the DRF entries and results in May of those years.

    Calder also ran their opening meet at Tropical Park.

    RG

  9. White Camry says:

    @Don Reed,

    When the baseball, BB, FB teams started to lose revenues, they pulled up roots and relocated.

    Not so for the racetracks, that when the jig was up, could not be transplanted.

    The ballparks couldn’t relocate, either.

  10. Don Daniels says:

    Raceway Park in Toldeo had an early T-Bred meet into the early 1970s.
    They raced in Feb and Mar until close to when the Detroit T-Bred tracks opened.

  11. Don Daniels says:

    “Tracks in Toledo , Ohio area in the 50?s.
    Fort Miami from 1952-57 and Maumee Downs opened in 1958. Source the DRF entries and results in May of those years.”

    Previously I submitted a rather long post on this, which is apparently lost in cyberspace.

    Fort Miami, although referred to as “Toledo” is actually in Maumee.

    Not sure of T-Bred race years, my comments are regarding harness racing.

    Fort Miami opened originally in 1918 and raced sometime into the late-1930s.
    The grounds re-opened in 1946 and raced through the 1951 season.
    During the 1946-51 period, a new half-mile track was used for what “might” be called the overnights. For the two weeks of Grand Circuit racing the mile track was used.

    I’m told that today the old Fort Miami grandstand still exists, although abandoned.

    I’ve summaries and some photo’s of the 30s and 40s harness racing.
    Also from 1928 & 1929.

  12. Arne Lang says:

    I’d like to know more about the Palmetto Park thoroughbred track in Charleston, South Carolina. It was operable in 1913. From what I can gather, it was around before this date, closed when the reformers passed an anti-betting bill, and then reopened in spite of the pernicious legislation. The betting was done with bookmakers.