Oaklawn Park, or, Oaklawn Racing and Gaming, as it is currently known, started operations with the dawn of the 20th century. It now consists of a vast entertainment destination that includes a casino among other amenities but retains the classic horse racing dirt race track to which it owes most of its enduring fame. It is based at Hot Springs, Arkansas, and it is the annual host to the regional Racing Festival of the South that includes the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby and the Apple Blossom Handicap event.

Oaklawn Park means a great deal to the residents of Hot Springs: its inauguration (back in 1905) was greeted with a special holiday celebration that saw the unfathomable figure of 3000 people gather up for the first races, and throughout many years of mishaps, ownership and legislation changes, it survived to become the 7th best American thoroughbred horse racing track in 2013, according to the Horseplayers Association of North America.

During its first days, Oaklawn Park offered a humble daily racing schedule of only 6 races, much to the likeness of the traditional British racing card; gambling prohibitions saw the venue close its doors for almost a decade after 1907, and later, due to a shift in ownership, the race track was again shut down periodically until the law that regulated horse betting in Arkansas was finally reformed in 1929. The start of the 1930s brought with them prosperity for Oaklawn that culminated in the establishment of the first Arkansas Derby in 1936.

Horse racing legend American Pharaoh owes its early fame -and some claim its later Triple Crown glory- to the two victories it enjoyed at Oaklawn Park's Arkansas Derby and Rebel Stakes during 2015.

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Oaklawn Park Facts:

  • Racecourse type: American Stakes Thoroughbred (dirt).
  • Location: Hot Springs, Arizona
  • Purse: varies.
  • Venue Capacity: N/A
  • Track length: 1 mile.
  • Important track records: (2015) American Pharaoh won both the Arkansas Derby & Rebel Stakes prior to his famed Triple Crown victory in the same year.