Gravesend Race Track
New York 11225
|Owner||Brooklyn Jockey Club|
|Surface||Natural Grass (turf)|
Gravesend Race Track at Gravesend on Coney Island, New York was a Thoroughbred horse racing facility that opened in 1886 and closed in 1910. The track was built by the Brooklyn Jockey Club with the backing of Philip and Michael Dwyer, two wealthy racing stable owners known as the Dwyer Brothers. Philip, the controlling shareholder of the Brooklyn Jockey Club, served as its president.
Gravesend Race Track hosted the Preakness Stakes for fifteen years.
Opened on August 26, 1886, its first executive board consisted of:
- Col. William L. Scott
- James Ben Ali Haggin
- Michael F. Dwyer
- Elias J. "Lucky" Baldwin
- Capt. Samuel S. Brown
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 which had been used for harness racing. 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 its brick base. A spur was created that allowed trains running along the Prospect Park & Coney Island railroad line to stop within the facility and discharge passengers at a small station that led 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 impromptu 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 Astoria Stakes, 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 1908, the administration of Governor Charles Evans Hughes signed into law the Hart-Agnew bill that effectively banned all racetrack betting in New York State. A 1910 amendment to the legislation added further restrictions that meant by 1911 all racetracks in the state ceased operations. 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.
Other defunct New York race tracks
- Brighton Beach Race Course
- Jamaica Racetrack
- Jerome Park Racetrack
- Morris Park Racecourse
- Roosevelt Raceway
- Sheepshead Bay Race Track
- Union Course
- "Surprises on the Turf – Fast Time on the Gravesend Race Track – Adonis Wins the Handicap Sweepstatkes and Pontico Also Runs to the Front". New York Times. October 8, 1886. p. 3. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
- "Convert Gravesend Track – Residential District Will Replace Famous Race Track". New York Times. March 5, 1922. p. RE24. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
- "The Brooklyn Market - Trading Shows Demand for Apartments and Dwellings". New York Times. March 31, 1923. p. 17. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
- Hale, Ron (1997). "New York Tracks - A Short History". about.com. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- "Sport Among the Racers; New Track of the Brooklyn Jockey Club". The New York Times. August 23, 1886. p. 8. Retrieved 2010-01-16.
- Brooklyn, NY Quadrangle (Map). 1:62,500. 15 Minute Series (Topographic). United States Geological Survey. 1891. § SW. Retrieved 2010-02-13.
- "Last of Brooklyn's Once Famous Race Tracks Succumbs to March of Housing Development – The Old Sheepshead Bay Track, Bisected by the Proposed Subway Extension, Cut Up Into Small Building Plots – To Be Sold at Public Auction on Saturday Next". New York Times. August 26, 1923. p. RE2. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
- "Preakness Stakes Early History". www.preakness-stakes.info. Archived from the original on 2015-04-13. Retrieved 2010-01-16.