Recently Tom LaMarra posted a story on the progress of Hialeah park opening once again in Florida. Being in the industry for only a few years, I honestly have no idea what the historical relevance of Hialeah is.
Then I asked a co-worker and did some research on Hialeah. As a racing newb, I would have to say the research was fascinating. My colleague mentioned the Flamingo, so of course I had to go research that race. I always found it fascinating how Flamingos are colored pink, because of what they eat.
Bigger than the Florida Derby?!
Yep, that is what my co-worker said, "it was bigger than the Florida Derby." The Flamingo was a grade III in its day and was a bigger Kentucky Derby (gr. I) prep race than the Florida Derby, which is almost THE Derby prep race today. 2001 was the 70th running of the race.
The Flamingo held the presences of Nashua, Northern Dancer, and Spectacular Bid who was its last winner to win the Kentucky Derby.
The park closed in 2001, and so I have read one of the last Flamingo stories about Hialeah with no other than Outofthebox. I honestly did not know who Outofthebox was previous to this race.
Outofthebox had finished second in both the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I) and the Florida Derby (gr. I) prior to the Flamingo. No short feat and quite impressive. Racing against such competition as Monarchos, but missing the Kentucky Derby due to injury. However Thunder Blitz nabbed the win in the Flamingo against Outofthebox.
Outofthebox is a Montbrook in the Buckpasser line. A lifetime record of 16-5-4-3, and winning the 2001 Florida champion 3-year-old award.
The re-opening of Hialeah park has collected 9,000 job seekers already, which is a real need in our economy. What excites me is this racetrack with its plans of a casino involved in its reworking, is it will cater to "Class A Thoroughbred racing" but also will have a large Quarter horse racing presence. Quarter horse racing is very big in the south.
A story comes to mind from a trip to Florida I made two years ago. I have a very good friend who is a Manga artist, the first American to work for a major Manga company in Japan actually, and we were going to a huge convention where he was a guest of honor speaking on some panels and hosting a meet and greet table.
On our way home from this convention we stopped in at Applebees for dinner and our waitress saw I was wearing a Keeneland hat. She started asking me a few questions, one of which was, "What does your hat mean?" And I mentioned, "We are from Kentucky and Keeneland is a racetrack up there."
The young waitress started talking about Quarter Horse racing and explained how she trains Quarter Horses for racing around Florida. I explained that it was actually a Thoroughbred track, but was interested in learning about Quarter Horses so we chatted for a while. I think she was a little taken back by the Thoroughbred angle, but no big deal. I like all equids and am just as interested in warmbloods and mules as I am in Thoroughbreds. She was a pleasant conversation.
We did make it back after driving all night and I slept the trip back, as my other friends kept each other awake and when they dropped me off at my place, I came straight to work.
So now I need your help. What you remember from Hialeah before its long slumber began?
If you have a few minutes to spare around 7:30 tonight, Tues. June 9th, you can check out my brief opinion on Sports Nightly. The great Dick Gabriel has a wonderful sports show that is always entertaining and asked my opinions on VLTs and the Kentucky racing status and the future of racing.