Havre de Grace Racetrack
The Havre de Grace Racetrack was an American horse racing track on Post Road in Havre de Grace, Harford County, Maryland which operated from August 24, 1912 to 1950. Nicknamed "The Graw," for a time it was owned by the Harford Agricultural and Breeders Association and also by the notorious gambler, Arnold Rothstein.
On September 29, 1920, Man o' War won the Potomac Handicap at Havre de Grace. His son, U.S. Triple Crown winner, War Admiral, won his first race here on April 25, 1936. The Havre de Grace Handicap was one of the important races in the American northeast for many years whose winners include U.S. Racing Hall of Fame inductees Roamer, Crusader, Seabiscuit, Sun Beau, Equipoise, and Challedon. As well, some Hall of Fame horses lost this race. In the 1919 running, Cudgel beat two Hall of Famers in the form of Exterminator and Triple Crown champion, Sir Barton.
Located halfway between the cities of Philadelphia and Washington, D.C, in the 1940s the Havre de Grace Racetrack faced increased competition from Delaware Park Racetrack and Garden State Park Racetrack in New Jersey. The racetrack began losing customers and by 1949 its owners were forced to turn over some of their allotted racing days to Baltimore's Pimlico Race Course. In January 1951 the Havre de Grace Racetrack was sold to Alfred G. Vanderbilt II, owner of Pimlico Race Course, and Morris Schapiro of Laurel Park Racecourse who closed the facility and transferred the track's racing allotment dates to their own tracks.
Selected major races held at Havre de Grace Racetrack:
The Havre de Grace Racetrack is now the property of the Maryland National Guard who use the former clubhouse as their offices. The grandstand, minus the canopy, has been converted into a warehouse. Although nothing of the actual track remains, an aerial view reveals a curved line of trees, indicative of the final turn.
Havre de Grace Racetrack in popular culture
The Havre de Grace Racetrack is among several racetracks which are used as part of the ruse in the motion picture, The Sting. In the climactic scene, when Doyle Lonnegan enters the parlor to make the final bet, J. J. Singleton can be heard reporting, "At Havre de Grace, the winner, Light Chatter paid 5.40, 2.80, and 2.40..."
- Grant, Robert The Great Trials of the Twenties: The Watershed Decade (p. 62) (1998) Da Capo Press ISBN 978-1-885119-52-0
- Official web site for the City of Havre de Grace, Maryland
- Photo of the information plaque marking the site of the Havre de Grace Racetrack erected by the Maryland Historical Trust and the Maryland State Highway Administration - at the Historical Marker Database website
- Aerial view of the site of Havre de Grace Racetrack
- Time magazine January 22, 1951 article on the sale of Havre de Grace Racetrack
- The opening of Havre de Grace Racetrack, 1912