Gravesend Race Track


Gravesend Race Track

Gravesend Race Track at Gravesend on Coney Island, New York was a Thoroughbred horse racing facility built in 1887 by the Brooklyn Jockey Club as a result of the backing of the wealthy racing stable owners, the Dwyer Brothers. Philip J. Dwyer was the controlling shareholder of the Brooklyn Jockey Club, and served as its president.

The facility covered an area which extended from McDonald Avenue (then Gravesend Avenue) to Ocean Parkway, and from Kings Highway to Avenue U. This land had previously been occupied by the Prospect Park Fair Grounds, a slightly smaller and far more modest race course. The facility was enclosed by a twelve foot wooden fence and boasted an ornate two-story "double decker" grand stand of yellow Georgia pine with a bar and restaurant built into it's brick base. A spur was created that allowed trains running along the Prospect Park & Coney Island railroad line (also known as the Culver Line) to stop within the facility and discharge passengers at a small station that lead directly to the grand stand via a covered walkway. At the southern end of the facility stood the offices of the Brooklyn Jockey Club, as well as the dressing rooms for the jockeys. The northern end was occupied by the betting pavilion and carriage sheds. The eastern side, which ran along the tree-lined boulevard of Ocean Parkway (where impromtu training races often took place), was occupied by the clubhouse.

During its time, the racetrack executive included superintendent Ben Brush in whose honor the future U.S. Racing Hall of Fame horse Ben Brush was named. Among the major graded stakes races launched at the track were the Brooklyn Handicap, Brooklyn Derby, Tremont Stakes, and the Gazelle Handicap. For the fifteen years from 1894 through 1908, Gravesend Race Track hosted one of the American Classic Races, the Preakness Stakes.

In 1910 the administration of New York Governor Charles Evans Hughes outlawed all racetrack betting which resulted in the closing of every horse racing facility in New York after the end of the 1910 season. Although the law was repealed in time to resume racing in 1913, the Gravesend Race Track never reopened and the land was eventually sold to real-estate developers in 1920.

Today, the annual Gravesend Handicap at Aqueduct Racetrack honors the former racing facility.

ee also defunct New York race tracks:

* Brighton Beach Race Course
* Jamaica Racetrack
* Jerome Park Racetrack
* Morris Park Racecourse
* Sheepshead Bay Race Track

References

* [http://www.preakness-stakes.info/history.php Early History of the Preakness Stakes]
* [http://horseracing.about.com/library/blnytracks.htm Brief history of Gravesend Race Track at About, Inc., a part of The New York Times Company]


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