Jerome Park Racetrack

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Jerome Park Racetrack, 1868
Coaches at the racetrack, 1886

Jerome Park Racetrack was an American thoroughbred horse racing facility.

History[edit]

It opened in 1866 in the northwest part of Fordham, Westchester County (now in the Bronx), New York.

Built on the old Bathgate estate, and operated by the American Jockey Club, its owner/members were led by financier Leonard W. Jerome and August Belmont, Sr. A luxurious clubhouse was built near a rise that looked over the race course on what was known as "The Bluff".

In those days, many would come to the racing park by horse, coach and carriage, or by railroad at Fordham Station, located at the bottom of Fordham Hill and Rose Hill in Old Fordham Village.

The first Belmont Stakes, the oldest of the three U.S. Triple Crown races which was named in honor of August Belmont, Sr., was held at Jerome Park Racetrack and continued to be run there until 1890 when it was moved to nearby Morris Park Racecourse. Jerome Park Racetrack was also the home to the Champagne Stakes from its inaugural running in 1867 through 1889 and the Ladies Handicap, created in 1868 and which today is run at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens and is the oldest stakes race in the United States exclusively for fillies and mares.

In the spring of 1876, a group of polo enthusiasts founded the Westchester Polo Club at Jerome Park Racetrack. On May 13th of that year, the track was the site of the first outdoor polo match ever held in the United States.[1][2]

It is alleged that Lord Randolph Churchill first met Jerome's daughter, Jennie Jerome, later to be courted and married, at the race park, but this allegation is false. As attested by Sir Winston Churchill in his biography of his father, Lord Randolph Churchill was never in America before his marriage, and the couple actually met in August of 1873 at a ball on board the Imperial Russian cruiser "Ariadne" while it was moored at Cowes on the Isle of Wight.[3]

The track closed on October 4, 1894 to make way for the Jerome Park Reservoir that was needed for the metropolitan New York City water supply system.[4][5]

See also defunct New York race tracks[edit]

References[edit]

  • McNamara, John "History in Asphalt: The Origin of Bronx Street and Place Names" (1993) Bronx County Historical Society ISBN 978-0-941980-16-6

Coordinates: 40°52′42″N 73°53′43″W / 40.87833°N 73.89528°W / 40.87833; -73.89528