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Is There A Horse Racing Track In Las Vegas?

Photo by Gene Devine on Unsplash

Las Vegas, the land of neon lights and slot machines, where dreams are made (and sometimes dashed) on the roll of a dice. But amidst the clatter of casino chips, one might wonder, “Is there a place for horse racing in this desert mirage of entertainment?” It’s a valid question, especially for those who prefer their bets placed on something more animate than a roulette wheel.

The Short Answer: Not Exactly, But…

Now, if you’re picturing a grand, Churchill Downs-style racetrack, you might be slightly disappointed. Vegas, as extravagant as it is, doesn’t have its own traditional horse racing track. Shocking, right? The city that has an Eiffel Tower and a Sphinx but no racetrack?

However, Let’s Trot Elsewhere… But don’t hang up your betting slips just yet! While Las Vegas might not have a track, horse racing aficionados aren’t completely out of luck. The city offers off-track betting (OTB) at various locations, where you can wager on races happening elsewhere.  You can find more information about online betting here:

So, you can still enjoy the thrill of the race, albeit on a screen.

Where to Bet if Not on the Track

Even though Vegas doesn’t have horse racing action, you can still place some bets on horse races.

Casinos Galore: Many casinos in Vegas, such as the MGM Grand and Bellagio, offer OTB areas.

Sportsbooks: These are like a haven for sports betting, including horse racing. You can even go online and find your favorite races and place a bet straight from your Vegas hotel.

Virtual Reality Racing: Some places even offer VR experiences, bringing you closer to the action.

Was there ever a Horse Racing Track in Vegas?

Well, even though the horse racing scene in Vegas isn’t something that will fulfill the dreams of horse racing enthusiasts, they’ve tried their hand at horse racing with the Las Vegas Speedway.

The Las Vegas Park Speedway was a horse and car racing track in Las Vegas, Nevada. Before it was dismantled, it was built as a horse racing facility and hosted single events in the NASCAR Grand National Series, AAA, and USAC Stock cars. It was once known as the Las Vegas Jockey Club.

But it was short-lived.

To go from New York City to Las Vegas, Joseph M. Smoot grabbed a ride from lawyer Hank Greenspun. He claimed to have assisted in the construction of rails in California and Florida, which proved to be false. The track was designed to be a significant horse racing venue on Las Vegas’s south side. Smoot paid for the track by asking 8000 stockholders to contribute $2 million.

Smoot apologized in a local newspaper when the development was delayed much beyond its projected launching date. Smoot and two others were accused of criminal embezzlement after he was unable to furnish receipts for a $500,000 missing. A federal judge appointed a trustee to oversee the racetrack.

The Las Vegas Jockey Club opened its doors on September 4, 1953. Customers had to wait an hour in traffic to park, and some did not attend. The first day had 8200 people, and the board of directors decided to stop the track for two weeks after the third day to replace the ticket booths. The lost a lot of money in its first opening days, therefore the board decided to terminate it after only 13 days of operation.

A Short Drive for a Day at the Races

While Las Vegas may lack its own horse racing track, the surrounding areas aren’t devoid of this equine sport. A short drive can lead you to some notable tracks where the thunder of hooves isn’t just a sound effect in a VR headset.

The Closest Contenders

1. Los Alamitos Race Course: Where Champions Run

  • Location: Cypress, California
  • Distance from Vegas: About a 4-hour drive
  • The Scoop: This track is renowned for both thoroughbred and quarter-horse racing. If you’re a fan of the faster, shorter races, this is your paradise.

2. Santa Anita Park: A Storied Racetrack

  • Location: Arcadia, California
  • Distance from Vegas: Approximately 4 to 5 hours by car
  • Why It’s Worth the Drive: Santa Anita Park isn’t just a racetrack; it’s a piece of horse racing history. With its stunning backdrop of the San Gabriel Mountains, it’s as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the racing spirit.

3. Del Mar Racetrack: Where the Turf Meets the Surf

  • Location: Del Mar, California
  • Distance from Vegas: Around a 5-hour drive
  • Why it is popular? – Pacific Ocean breeze mingling with the excitement of horse racing. Del Mar offers a unique blend of beachside relaxation and adrenaline-packed races. Plus it hosts some of the biggest races in the world, such as the Breeders’ Cup, which will be its home again this year.

 Final Words

So, there you have it. No traditional racetracks in Vegas, but plenty of ways to get your horse racing fix. Whether it’s through a screen, a pair of VR goggles, a lively sportsbook, or a short drive to a nearby horse racing track the spirit of the race is alive and well in Sin City.

And who knows? Maybe one day, we’ll see thoroughbreds racing alongside the neon lights. Until then, place your bets and enjoy the uniquely Vegas race experience!

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