Florida Greyhound Race Tracks
Greyhound Racing is called the “sport of queens”, and was favored by both Queen Cleopatra and Queen Elizabeth I.
In pari-mutuel wagering, guests wager against other people who bet on different greyhounds during the race, as opposed to betting against the track. Those holding a winning ticket take a proportionate share of the total amount bet on the race. Portions of the total betting pool go to the track to pay for operating expenses.
Or perhaps you prefer Jai-alai, a form of handball where opposing individuals or teams alternately bounce a small, hard ball against one, two, or three walls and catch it upon its return. Bettors select a team or individual player to win this fast-paced game which requires great agility and co-ordination.
Here’s a rundown on several racetracks located throughout the state:
Naples and Fort Myers Greyhound Track
This southwest Florida track just minutes from I-75 on Bonita Beach Road in Bonita Springs offers year-round live greyhound racing, drawing from 14 kennels and nearly 1,200 greyhounds. Choose from matinee and evening performances, along with daily simulcast horse, harness and greyhound racing. The track’s newest addition is its non-stop gaming programming in the Poker Room.
Tampa Greyhound Track
Located off I-275 at Bird Street, the Tampa Greyhound Track offers 14 greyhound races at every performance. Live racing is held from July through December or visitors can also test their skills in Lucky’s Card Room. Simulcast wagering on jai-alai, thoroughbreds, greyhounds and harness racing is held year-round. Matinees are scheduled Monday, Wednesday and Saturdays; evening races are offered Monday to Saturday and simulcast racing takes place at noon Monday to Sunday.
Jacksonville Kennel Club
Considered one of the oldest pari-mutuel facilities in the United States, the Jacksonville Kennel Club, 1440 N. McDuff Ave., offers live greyhound racing from mid-April through early October and simulcast racing (greyhound, jai-alai and thoroughbred) from early October through mid-April. Fourteen live races are scheduled every 15 minutes each day.
Orange Park Kennel Club
Owned by the Jacksonville Kennel Club, this redesigned complex at 455 Park Ave. in Orange Park is one of the country’s premier facilities. Live greyhound racing starts in early October and continues to mid-April, followed by simulcast racing (greyhound, jai-alai and thoroughbred) from mid-April to early October. Live daily sessions feature 14 races every 15 minutes.
St. John’s Greyhound Park
This state-of-the-art simulcast complex, nicknamed “The Best Bet,” lets racing fans enjoy the exciting action at greyhound tracks, horse tracks and jai-alai facilities from all over the country. Located at 6822 Racetrack Rd., the facility’s Las Vegas-style atmosphere features individual carrels with private TV monitors, more than 100 large-screen monitors, theater seating and betting odds identical to the location where the event is taking place. The simulcast season runs daily year-round, except Tuesdays.
Tampa Bay Downs
The only thoroughbred race course on Florida’s West coast, Tampa Bay Downs on Race Track Road offers live racing action five days a week from December through May and simulcast live racing year-round from the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean. Amenities include a Sports Gallery with video racing library, large-screen televisions and refreshments; a family picnic area near the track; and a remodeled Clubhouse.
Florida Gaming Corporation’s Jai-Alai
With three facilities in Florida, the Florida Gaming Corporation’s jai-alai facilities offer patrons an opportunity to place bets on the “world’s fastest game.” There’s a choice of Ft. Pierce Jai-Alai, Ocala Jai-Alai or Miami Jai-Alai.
The Miami location also offers poker games in the Crystal Card Room and domino tables are available on a timed basis. Intertrack wagering is available year-round in Miami, Ft. Pierce and Ocala. Enjoy fine dining in each facility’s Courtview Club Restaurant, complete with separate betting facilities, individual televisions and a spectacular view of the game.
Palm Beach Kennel Club
Live greyhound racing is Palm Beach County’s favorite spectator sport. The Palm Beach Kennel Club, situated on Congress Avenue in West Palm Beach, is an exciting entertainment complex featuring live greyhound racing, simulcast wagering from across the country and a full range of favorites and unusual variations in the Poker Room. More than 500 color screens televise thoroughbreds, harness racing, jai-alai and greyhounds. Dining ranges from fine cuisine in the Paddock Restaurant to light meals in the Terrace or Trophy Rooms and snacks from the concession stands. The year-round schedule offers daily afternoon matinees and evening races Monday to Saturday.
Pompano Park Racing
From October to August, Pompano Park Racing’s claim to fame is its live nighttime horse racing. Located at 1800 S.W. Third St., this facility is known as the “Winter Capital of Harness Racing” and features world-class Standardbred racing with top-ranked trotters and pacers and award-winning drivers. Simulcast racing (harness, thoroughbred and jai-alai) is available year-round or try your hand at Pompano Park Poker open every night during live horse racing. The Top Of The Park Restaurant is the largest dining room of any harness race track, offering panoramic views and private television sets at each table.
Sitting on more than 250 tropical acres in Hallandale Beach less than a mile from the Atlantic Ocean, Gulfstream Park is home to one of the world’s most beautiful race courses with live racing starting in January and continuing until late May. Visitors enjoy the finest in thoroughbred racing with all the modern amenities, including comfortable seating in the grandstand, Clubhouse, Turf Club, Rooftop Bar & Grille, the Gulfdome dining terrace, barber shop, two gift shops and three electronic information boards with continually updated racing information. Features include the Gulfstream Gallery, the park’s museum of track history; a popular concert series performed weekends on the entertainment stage; a Corporate Picnic Tent; and the Garden of Champions, containing commemorative bronze plaque monuments honoring equine superstars.
Jefferson County Kennel Club
Greyhound racing is the name of the game at the Jefferson County Kennel Club on U.S. 19 three miles north of Monticello. Enjoy year-round racing in a modern facility with comfortable seating and closed circuit televisions. Refreshments are available on both upper and lower levels, and parking is free. The track is open for nightly racing Monday to Saturday and matinees on Saturday.
Pensacola Greyhound Track
Located at Highway 98 West at Dog Track Road in West Pensacola, the Pensacola Greyhound Track offers live greyhound racing Wednesday through Saturday evenings and matinees on Saturday and Sunday. Live simulcast horse racing is shown from the Miami tracks every weekend, or enjoy simulcast greyhound racing from the Jacksonville Racing Circuit. Seating is available in the climate-controlled Kennel Club, Lounge or Grandstand, or get close to the action in the outdoors railside seating.
Calder Race Course
Spread out across 220 acres, the Calder Race Course in Miami offers the thrills of thoroughbred racing. Its annual Festival of the Sun (Oct. 7, 2000) is the richest single day of racing on the Florida racing calendar. The track also provides simulcast racing. Calder’s Hall of Fame offers an entertaining look at the horses and people who make up Calder’s history and several restaurants and eateries are ideal for fine or casual dining.
Patrons must be 18 or older to place a wager.