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In 1922, Missouri cattleman James Bright and aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss got together and founded the Miami Kennel Club as the first pari-mutuel greyhound track in America. By early 1925, the newly renamed Hialeah Park had become a hot spot for thoroughbred racing on a one-mile dirt track.
Throughout the years, Hialeah Park went on to hosted countless races and events, including the Flamingo Stakes and the Hialeah Turf Cup, featuring some of the sport’s most legendary names — Seabiscuit, Citation, Nashua, Bold Ruler, Forego, Seattle Slew, Spectacular Bid and John Henry. World leaders, such as Presidents Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, as well as Prime Minister Winston Churchill, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Princess Grace of Monaco, all spent a day at the races — sometimes longer.
A cavalcade of stars also brought its glitz to the grounds. Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Al Jolson, Jimmy Durante, Elizabeth Taylor, Angie Dickinson, even Amelia Earhart stopped by before her infamous last flight. The scene that established Michael Corleone’s arrival in Miami in 1974’s Academy Award-winning The Godfather, Part II was filmed at the park, as were scenes for the Oscar-nominated / Golden Globe-winner The Champ (1978) and Let It Ride (1988).
In addition to its brush with stardom, Hialeah Park is great place to visit some famous wildlife. Listed as an Audubon Bird Sanctuary and recorded in the National Register of Historic Places, the park is home to an iconic flamboyance of flamingos, all original decendants of birds imported from Cuba in 1934 by former owner Joseph Widener. Related to the heron, the flamingo is a wading bird that prefers to live in shallow marshlands. Each spring, the birds nest on volcano-shaped mounds of clay built in a shallow pool on their infield lake. The colony has left its mark throughout the U.S. in the form of donations to zoos, from Zoo Miami and Saint Louis Zoo to the former Hollywood Park in Inglewood, CA.
Hialeah Park has continued to honor and celebrate its past while embracing a dynamic forward-looking direction. Home to a state-of-the-art casino, which began operations in August of 2013, the facilities feature 800 Las Vegas-style slot machines, electronic roulette and blackjack, South Florida’s most popular poker room, as well as seasonal quarter horse racing. Champions Simulcast Center and Sports Bar, on the second floor of the iconic clubhouse, is open year-round, offering bettors world-class horse racing action from across the country. Several restaurants and lounges round out the options for a day out.
In addition to its vast outdoor space, the park features newly redesigned venues suited for weddings, quinces and other special events. A museum that highlights the history of horse racing in South Florida is in the works, as is the creation of a trendy entertainment district anchored by a spa resort, office building and shopping center that will include restaurants, banks and other attractions for a new generation to get to know this local landmark. Conveniently located a short drive from Miami International Airport, South Beach, Downtown Miami, Coral Gables and Doral, Hialeah Park is positioned to become a destination for all.
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Hialeah Park Race Course & Casino
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