Agua Caliente Racetrack
The Agua Caliente Racetrack (current name “Caliente Hipódromo“) is a greyhound racing and former horse racing track in Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico. It opened in December 1929 at a cost of $2.5 million.
One year before, the Agua Caliente Casino and Hotel opened in June 1928.
Now the largest branch of the Caliente casino chain, the renovated building houses a casino with race betting, hundreds of slot machines, a restaurant and a Starbucks café. The complex includes the Estadio Caliente sports and concert stadium.
Like the resort, the racetrack was designed by Wayne McAllister and built by wealthy Americans Baron Long, a Los Angeles nightclub owner, Wirt Bowman, owner of the Tijuana gambling establishment, The Foreign Club, and James Croffroth, a member of the local Tijuana horseracing establishment. Some sources note the fourth partner was Abelardo L. Rodríguez, Military Commander and Governor of Baja California, and future President of Mexico. The lavish resort and racetrack on the Mexican border was popular among Americans, particularly Hollywood celebrities, because drinking, gambling and horse racing were still illegal in most of the neighboring U.S. states. The first manager of the track was Tommy Gorman, who had previously been involved in ice hockey.
Although President Lázaro Cárdenas outlawed gambling in 1935 and closed the resort and casino, the Agua Caliente Racetrack continued to operate for many years. It was the site of several industry firsts, including starting gates, safety helmets, and “pick six” wagering. Both Phar Lap and Seabiscuit ran and won the Agua Caliente Handicap, which for a time was the richest in North America.
Such riders as Aureliano Noguez, Humberto Enriquez, Francisco Mena, Antonio Castanon and David Flores graced the jockeys' quarters throughout the days of horse racing.
The race track is the originator of the Pick 6 (on the North American continent). Then known as the 5-10 and later on the 4-9'er. Some racetrackers called it the Big Six.
The original grandstand structure was destroyed by fire in 1971, but was rebuilt and continues to operate today, though just a shadow of its opulent beginnings. It is currently owned by millionaire politician Jorge Hank who renamed it "Hipódromo de Agua Caliente". It has not hosted horse racing since 1992, but presents greyhound races. The building was renovated in the 2010s and the Estadio Caliente stadium was built in the grounds.
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- Vanderwood, Paul J. Satan's Playground: Mobsters and Movie Stars at America’s Greatest Gaming Resort[permanent dead link] (Duke University Press, 2010)
- Beltran, David Jimenez. The Agua Caliente Story: Remembering Mexico's Legendary Racetrack (2004) Eclipse Press ISBN 1-58150-115-3
- Chris Nichols. The Leisure Architecture of Wayne McAlli  (Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith) 2007
- The Gazette (July 9, 1929), "Eddie Gerard has Resigned Post of Maroon Manager", The Gazette, Montreal