Oaklawn Park Racetrack
racetracks > Oaklawn Park
Oklawn Park Racetrack
Oaklawn Racing & Gaming opened on February 24th, 1905. It is currently owned by the Oaklawn Jockey Club. The venue hosts a variety of Thoroughbred racing events and is located in Hot Springs, Arkansas. It is universally considered one of the best tracks in the country.
2019 Oaklawn Racing & Gaming Season
The 2019 season at Oaklawn Park will run from Friday, January 12th through Saturday, April 14th. Typical race days are Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. There are some special events planned for Monday, January 15th and Monday, February 19th as well. Though formally branded as Oaklawn Racing & Gaming, the facility is most often referred to as Oaklawn Park.
Major Oaklawn Race Events
Apple Blossom Handicap
Count Fleet Sprint Handicap
Smarty Jones Stakes
- Friday, January 25th – Smarty Jones
- Saturday, February 2nd - Martha Washington
- Monday, February 18th - Bayakoa, Razorback H., Southwest
- Saturday, March 9 - Hot Springs, Honeybee
- Saturday, March 16 - Rebel, Azeri
- Saturday, March 23 - Gazebo
- Saturday, April 12-14 - Fantasy, Count Fleet Sprint, Oaklawn H., Arkansas Derby, Apple Blossom
Currently, Oaklawn Park hosts two grade-I races. The Arkansas Derby is limited to three-year-old colts and serves as one of the major prep races for the Kentucky Derby. Oaklawn Park also hosts the Apple Blossom Handicap, a contest limited to fillies and mares ages four and up. Below is a list of some of the more well known races at Oaklawn Park.
Oaklawn Park Racetrack Information:
Main track (dirt): 1 mile, oval
Length of stretch from last turn to finish line: 1,155 feet
Width of stretch: 70 feet
Width of turns: 80 feet
Composition: 2" sandy loam cushion, 3" sandy loam cushion compacted, 10" sand / silt, 30" clay and natural soil
About Oaklawn Racing & Gaming
Since first opening its doors in 1905, Oaklawn has gone through a variety of upgrades and changes. Like most tracks in the country, it has endured with the economic times suffering during times like World War II and The Great Depression, while thriving under normal circumstances.
Oaklawn has recently been credited as one of the top-10 racing tracks in the United States.
The clubhouse at Oaklawn Racing & Gaming was designed by Zachary Taylor Davis, who is the same architect responsible for both Old Comiskey Park and Wrigley Field. The casino was added in 2008 thanks to a $3M addition and was instantly the largest facility of its kind in Arkansas. Unlike most facilities, Oaklawn Racing & Gaming does not have a turf track.
Oaklawn celebrated it’s 100th anniversary by offering a $5 million bonus to any horse that could sweep the Rebel, Arkansas Derby and Kentucky Derby. Smarty Jones managed to accomplish this feat, and has since had the Smarty Jones Stakes named in his honour since 2008.
On February 24, 1905, Oaklawn presented its first racing card before a crowd of 3,000 that turned out after Hot Springs Mayor John Belding declared a half-day holiday for the city. The first race at the new track was won by Duelist, owned by John W. Schorr, a prominent Memphis sportsman, and since that time, Oaklawn has evolved into one of the premier race meets in the country. Best known as the home of the Racing Festival of the South and Arkansas Derby, the track has played host to some of the biggest names in the sport including champions Temperence Hill, Cigar, Curlin, Paseana, Azeri, Tiffany Lass, Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Rachel Alexandra, Lookin At Lucky, Blind Luck and Zenyatta
Between 1907 and 1916, Oaklawn Park faced some hardships as races were commonly cancelled because of the political problems in the state. The owners and bettors of Oaklawn would come to understand that political problems would continue to affect the track for the next 20 years.
By 1941, the total purse skyrocketed to $156,820 and was distributed in purses during the 30-day season, Feb. 24-March 29. Purse distribution continued to soar and in 1946 the track recorded a high of $283,180.
From 1951-75, many additions were made to Oaklawn's already impressive track record. A new parking lot was built to hold 800 vehicles and steam heat was installed in all of the private boxes in the paddock to better suit the track's elite clientele. Less than three years later an amazing dining room was added to the clubhouse and the main track was re-cushioned to allow for a more stable and breathable foundation.
In 1985, Oaklawn experienced its first year of reverse statistics. Wagering dropped by 8.1% and attendance dipped below 3.7% in comparison to 1984. Oaklawn Park Racetrack has seen its share of amazing and heart-stopping races. With the addition of "Instant Racing" - a pari-mutuel electronic system that allows players to wager on previously run races - Oaklawn Park ventured into the electronic gaming world and its offering was well received by visitors from around the world.
In 2014 racing returned to Hot Springs, Arkansas, with the opening of Oaklawn's 2014 live meet Friday, January 10 and greeting fans will be some of the most competitive racing in the country, especially in the three-year-old ranks.
Overall, the 2014, 57-day meet will offered more than $20 million in purses and 31 stakes, highlighted by the 78th running of the $1 million Arkansas Derby April 12.
The opening day headliner was the $100,000 Dixie Belle S., a six-furlong tussle for sophomore fillies. Among the likely favorites is More Than Beauty, an allowance winner at Churchill Downs last September for trainer Cecil Borel. The stakes-placed filly is a daughter of Brown Eyed Beauty, who captured the 2003 Spring Fever at Oaklawn.