On Location: Hipodromo Camarero in Puerto Rico

During the final week of August 2013, my wife and I had the opportunity to travel to Hipodromo Camarero in Puerto Rico. I have always wanted to visit Camarero and was very excited to visit the track! I follow several horses who've raced there, such as Guerrilla Warfare who was in the money 16 of 23 starts. My co-workers and I also enjoy the race caller's excitement during Camarero races.

The weather was amazing all week and horse racing is year round in Puerto Rico. The infield was a beautiful pond with teaming wildlife and plant life. El Yunque national park, which is a tropical rainforest and mountain range, can be seen as a backdrop, and of course warm weather! 

Horses were very approachable at the track. In fact, prior to one race, two different grooms brought horses over to a young boy of 5 to pet the horses while waiting in the indoor saddling paddock. There was a dividing wall, but that would not normally happen at other tracks. I was thinking how much that may have impacted that boys life, maybe he will be a fan or industry member for life.

The receiving barn is directly right of the grandstand and an open standing area that was open during the week days to public. The glass main grandstand was not available, at least I didn't try to find out. You could watch horses coming to the track from the stables, appear from behind the tote board and settle in at the receiving barn, then move from the receiving barn to the indoor saddling paddock underneath the grandstand. It is very compact, but so easy to scope out the competition.

At the track I met an individual who gave me an inside look at racing in Puerto Rico. I will not disclose his name, but appreciated his hospitality, transparent honesty, and the education he gave me. We will call him "A." A is a small time Puerto Rican trainer who has been around to sales and lower level claiming races/tracks most of his life, but who's home is in Puerto Rico for most of his life. He has played the claiming and sales game at larger tracks inside the continental United States.

A discussed the track life in Puerto Rico, explained changes that happened when the former U.S.-based owners sold Camarero to a group of Puerto Rican buisnessmen. There was discussion on the breeding, import and export of horses, and he talked about the role of Latin America in racing, Latin American trade, and the major race meets like the Clasico del Caribe (Carribean Classic Showcase). A had a lot of passion and desire to see the sport improve and grow in Puerto Rico, with larger field sizes, more fans, and more players at the tracks.

The following photos are organized in a few groups. The first group is a series of scenes providing a virtual tour, which are then followed by a dissection of the first race, and then other racing scenes. All photos by Adam & Erica Spradling.


Driving into the main entrance of the race track.


The front entrance to the race track facility.


Standing in the first row of the parking lot, looking at the covered front entrance.


A giant banner to the left of the front turn-stall entrance. My head touched the top of the red swoosh, to give size conext.


Looking back at the grandstand while standing next to the jockey paddock.


A tractor pulls one of two starting gates into position.


A view across the jockey paddock to the track and tote board from where the crowd stands.




 

A Burst of Speed

After arriving at the track, the second race of the day was set to go off. Thus my wife and I ventured over to the saddling paddock to look at horses for race 3. The horse with the white blinkers is the horse I really liked, #3 Burst of Glory. My wife and I discussed who else looked like a winner and we settled on #1 Carifeo as well. Burst of Glory looked great, but as you scroll down and watch the replay, was three wide most of the race and moved a little too early and tired at the wire. The jockey also stood up before the wire, which I yelled about at the time, but the replay revealed that Burst of Glory wasn't going to hold off the pressure. 





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Burst of Glory Replay:

 



Horses are led across the track to the receiving barn from behind the tote board.


A horse for the next race leaves the receiving barn and heading to the saddling paddock.


A groom brings a horse to greet a young patron.


The first try resulted in the young patron shying away, but a second horse and groom proved successful.





The receiving barn.








The Program.

10 Comments

Leave a Comment:

txhorsefan

Thanks for sharing your experience and your wonderful photos!  I appreciate having a chance to see racing in another country up close.  Thank you!!

22 Oct 2013 9:49 AM
edrul427

I wish you would have seen what this racetrack was on its heyday.Last i visit about 4 years ago i felt so bad because that was my home for many many years.It is not even a shadow of what it used to be,but they are trying very hard to bring it back,but you see the same trend here in the states,empty grandstands what a shame

22 Oct 2013 12:01 PM
Old Timer

It looks like a very nice track. Those photos leave something to be desired however with "Blood Horse" plastered across them.

22 Oct 2013 3:39 PM
aspradling

Thanks everyone! Sorry about the watermarks, but they are my personal images and I get tired of people lifting photos without asking. If there are a few you would like to see larger or without a watermark, just let me know and I can add them. Or, if you ask, I can send you them.

edrul427: That is what "A" told me stories about. I can only imagine how great the experience was in the hay-day. I had a great experience on my trip, but I am pretty easy to please. What were some fond memories you had?

22 Oct 2013 4:33 PM
GOLD STAR RACING STABLE, LLC.

THANK YOU; FOR PROMOTING CAMARRERO RACETRACK IN PUERTO RICO ! IT BRINGS A LOT OF MEMORIES AND HAPPY TIMES THAT I ENJOY WHILE GROWING UP IN PUERTO RICO. MY GRANDFATHER WAS A PIONEER TRAINER IN THE 1910'S TO HIS RETIREMENT IN 1956. I WOULD LIKE TO RUN ONE OF OUR PARTNERSHIP HORSE'S THERE ONE DAY !

AGAIN THANK YOU FOR THIS PUBLISH WORK AND PROMOTING A GREAT TRACK AND ITS PEOPLE !

22 Oct 2013 5:40 PM
LanceS

Thanks for the story.  I wish the BloodHorse would include Puerto Rico in their state/regional sire lists.  After all, they are American bred horses running in a US territory for US dollars!  It's interesting to follow the US sires that now stand there, but once they get past their third crops it becomes very difficult to follow them.  I've always been a fan of Casanova Star, for instance.

22 Oct 2013 9:53 PM
codysakic

Any way you could possibly scan and email me a copy of the front of the program? I would appreciate it.

22 Oct 2013 10:26 PM
camareo'srecordforever

I feel very proud to see my hometown racetrack in this blog. But its true what edrul427 says about the hay-days. I remember this great races with horses such like Vuelve Candy B, Tatra Voltage, Estrellero, Tintorera, Gran Duque, Bricola and Mi Pradera (just to name a few). Full grandstands of course. We are trying really hard to get things straight for the sake of the sport, hopefully we will. Thanks for sharing your trip with the world.

26 Oct 2013 1:59 AM
Fred and Joan

They have a nicer facility than most in our area. We hope that they will be able to continue and succeed . What a great experience to share with young people to actually be able to pet and touch a race horse! Sadly in our area it would be most difficult to pet or touch any of the horses as too many of them are not sufficiently handled or used to public contact .Very much appreciated your sharing of these pictures from a track in a different area and it was nice of the trainer to be open and candid of racing at his track.

27 Oct 2013 12:52 PM
Drinks from a glass !!

thanks adam .... our horse Dixieland bandito started at gulfstream, Monmouth ,and finished career at this track in Puerto rico...

wish I could have seen him run there...

05 Jan 2014 8:54 PM

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