Saturday, January 9, 2010

Hialeah Park Race Track - Then and Now

Finish of an exciting race at Hialeah race Course.

This postcard is postmarked in 2009.

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The Hialeah Park Race Track (also known as the Miami Jockey Club or Hialeah Race Track or Hialeah Park) is a historic site in Hialeah, Florida. It is located at East 4th Avenue. On March 5, 1979, it was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.

The Hialeah Park Race Track is one of the oldest existing recreational facilities in southern Florida. Originally opened in 1921 by the famous aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss and his partner James Bright, in 1925 the Miami Jockey Club launched Hialeah's race track on January 25, 1925. The facility was severely damaged by a 1926 hurricane and in 1930 was sold to the Joseph E. Widener. With Col. Edward R. Bradley as an investor, Widener hired architect Lester W. Geisler to design a complete new grandstand and clubhouse facilities along with landscaped gardens and a lake in the infield that Widener stocked with flamingos. Hailed as one of the most beautiful racetracks in the world, Hialeah Park officially opened on January 14, 1932.

The park became so famous for its flocks of flamingos that it has been officially designated a sanctuary for the American Flamingo by the Audubon Society.

In 2001, Hialeah Park stopped hosting racing after a change in the state law kept it from having any exclusive dates in its competition with Gulfstream Park and Calder Race Course. Consequently, owner John Brunetti closed Hialeah Park to the public.

In 2004, the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering revoked Hialeah's thoroughbred permit because it did not hold races for the previous two years. Its facilities remain intact except for the stables, which were demolished in early 2007.

On March 2009, it was announced that current track owner John Brunetti was awarded a racing permit. A $40-$90 Million restoration project is set to start within the next year.

On May 7, 2009 the Florida legislature agreed to a deal with the Seminole Tribe of Florida that would allow Hialeah Park to operate slot machines and run Quarter Horse races.

The historic racetrack reopened on November 28, 2009; solely for quarter horse races. The park will install slot machines in January as part of a deal to allow for two calender seasons of racing. The races will go on all the way until February 2, 2010. Up until this point, only a portion of the park has been restored, and an additional $30 million will be needed to complete this first phase of the project. The full transformation is expected to cost $1 billion since the plan includes a complete redevelopment of the surrounding area, which includes empty lots and the towering pine trees, into a destination spot with a hotel, restaurants, casinos, stores and a theater.


Here is the racetrack in 1961

Parading to the post on the turf at beautiful Hialeah Racecourse Miami, Florida.

This one is postmarked in 1961.

Here is a 1953 postcard of the Flamingos ...

Flamingos Nesting at Hialeah Park, Miami, Florida

The unique feature of Hialeah Park is its great flock of flamingos. These birds were imported from Cuba and South America and in 1939 for the first time, flamingos were raised to maturity in this country. That first season 62 birds were hatched at Hialeah and this year there were almost on hundred. The young birds are white and take on their pink coloring with maturity. Flamingos are fed a mixture of boiled rice, dried shredded shrimp, grains and cod liver oil.

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