Saturday, December 19, 2009

Hialeah Racetrack Re-Opens

The Hialeah Racetrack first opened in 1921. In 1979 the track was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In 1988 it was designated a National Historic landmark. In 2001 the track was closed and it has sat idle for 7 years. On Saturday November 28th the Racetrack re-opened and I went along with Terry, Elaine, and Derrik to experience the excitement. There was a huge line of cars perhaps a mile long waiting to get into the parking lot. Derrik maneuvered his vehicle onto a post office lawn and we walked a block to enter the track. while walking down a long drive we could see a large flock of Flamingos flying in a tight circle around a small lake in the center of the track. Loud Cuban music was playing and people were dancing. The track was located in a Cuban neighborhood and these folks know how to party! Entire multi-generational families were swaying to the rhythmic beat.
The event was very crowded. We watched the horses and jockeys as they made their way to the track. I thought horse number 4 with a bright yellow jersey was looking fit and I picked him as the winner. Derrick made his way to place a bet, and Terry and I went to the stands to watch the race. When the horses entered the starting gates everyone got to their feet. when the race started there was an instant roar from the crowd. I was shocked at how short the race was. These were Quarter horses and they only sprint the straightaway in front of the stands. My horse didn't win. He wasn't even close.
After realizing I shouldn't bet on the races, I went outside and did this sketch. Between races people would come out to enjoy the sun and check their racing forms. The 8th race was the last race of the day and we decided to get out early. People were still streaming into the track as we were leaving. They were showing up for a live concert. I have never experienced anything like this boisterous event in quiet Orlando.

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at


Rick said...

What a great piece of Florida history revitalized! Glad you were there to record it!

Thor said...

Thanks Rick. The architecture of the racetrack is beautiful, and I am glad the track is finding new life.