The Hazel Park Raceway was awash in colorful sun hats as hundreds of spectators gathered to watch “the most exciting two minutes in sports.” The tenor and costume of the raceway crowd evoked the grandeur of Churchill Downs as they anticipated the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby last Saturday, May 6th.
The event spanned three clubhouse floors, an outdoor barbecue, and the raceway’s grandstand. Race goers milled about, snacking on nachos or hot dogs while murmuring about the odds in the upcoming race. As coverage of the Kentucky Derby intensified on television, the throngs condensed around the raceway’s simulcast displays.
Then, Always Dreaming crossed the finish line.
The crowd was uproarious as they toasted the new winner and prepared for the venue’s own slate of nine races, which began at 7:30 pm. Michigan thoroughbreds enjoyed some success on the field. Whatdidumeanbythat and Art I Awesome each took home first place in all-Michigan heats, and Jumbo Jet captured second in an inter-state heat.
Race Track History
The Hazel Park Raceway was first constructed as an auto track in 1948. The venture went bankrupt before it could open, however. Instead of allowing the track to languish, a group of local businessmen resuscitated it and adapted it for horse racing.
In its early days, the raceway held regular thoroughbred competitions but switched to harness racing in the 1980s. Following the approval of a five-year contract from the Michigan Gaming Control Board and a $100,000 renovation, thoroughbred racing returned to Hazel Park in 2014.
The raceway isn’t just for aficionados, either. Horse Lovers of all ages and backgrounds are welcome to attend the Hazel Park Raceway for live races every Friday and Saturday from now until September 2nd. Admission and parking are free.