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. Another listing for it was added in 1988.
The Hialeah Park Race Track is served by the Miami Metrorail at the Hialeah Station on Palm Avenue and E 21st Street.
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 wealthy Philadelphia horseman Joseph E. Widener. With renowned Kentucky horseman Col. Edward R. Bradley as an investor, Widener hired architect Lester W. Geisler to design a complete new grandstand and Renaissance Revival clubhouse facilities along with landscaped gardens of native flora and fauna 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. An Australian totalisator for accepting parimutuel betting was the first in America to be installed.
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.
Among the races the track hosted was the appropriately named Flamingo Stakes, an important stepping stone to the Kentucky Derby for 3-year-old horses, and the once prestigious Widener Handicap, a major race for horses four years and older that was the East Coast counterpart to the Santa Anita Handicap in California. The horse-racing movie Let It Ride, with Richard Dreyfuss, Terri Garr, and Jennifer Tilly, had most of its principal film photography shot at Hialeah Park in 1987. Hialeah Park was also made an appearance in Public Enemies but scenes were shot in the midwest.
Hialeah Park Racetrack was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on March 2, 1979. On January 12, 1988, the property was determined eligible for designation as a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior.
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. The filly Cheeky Miss won the last race ever run at Hialeah on May 22, 2001.
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. In 2006, the abandoned Hialeah Park site was brought as a possible location for a new Marlins Stadium.
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 calendar 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.