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HRN Original Blog:
Zipse At The Track

Loving Hialeah Park again for the very first time

 

Never before knowing her touch, Hialeah Park is a lifelong love never fulfilled. My gaze first fell upon the winter oasis lifetimes ago. Gardens and fountains of warmth, palm trees and pink flamingos of the exotic, her siren song romanced my impressionable young soul. Glamor by name, she has known millionaires, movies stars, and heads of state. But more than that, she has lovingly invited the majestic equine under her embrace. Horse racing is her game. Forego, Seattle Slew, Alydar, and Spectacular Bid were childhood friends of mine. To her, though, they were dinner guests, esteemed visitors that graced her banquets and left those lucky enough to be in attendance with unbreakable memories. I may have watched from within four walls, but no matter, feeling her charms just the same. Timeless beauty may be passé, but not her. She holds her elegance in a syncopated rhythm, oblivious to counting years gone by. Where Seabiscuit began and War Admiral finished, where Gen. Duke and Bold Ruler became entwined in history. Winds have changed, times have blown in and out, and still Lady Hialeah holds on. Architectural treasure and international flare, she is like no other. Patient, while singing all the time, she is still calling me. I will let Citation stare into and through my eyes, sharing a love, moment in time, and experience. Sopping up the day like bread to gravy, I will be ten again. Passage in hand, a destination or a lifetime date with destiny; Hialeah Park beckons me home again, for the very first time.

 

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Older Comments about Loving Hialeah Park again for the very first time...

I never made it to Hialeah Park during "the glory years" ... I've been fortunate enough to make three visits there for the AQHA AND to have spent one entire season working there.
Too bad the QH racing there is such low quality. It's sad that this great track has become a slot track that only has the QHs for the sake of their casino.
  • boxersdaddy · they could possibly do what los alamitos is doing on the west coast. but, then again, isn't qh racing kind of a western usa thing? · 585 days ago
Path. But I agree at least Hialeah is not a condo complex. It would be nice to have the Breeders Cup there. Perhaps that is Brunetti's ultimate goal
  • boxersdaddy · when you say condo complex, you must be referring to tropical park, which my wife has fond memories of when growing up in miami. · 585 days ago
Louie dula. Sad to hear about the bougainvilleas on the grandstand and the pines on Sunny's
Hialeah will ALWAYS be my favorite place in the world to be. it's looking alittle sad right now with all of the new construction but hopefully when it's all done it'll shine again. I was there two weeks ago and was very upset that they've cut down the beautiful bougainvilleas that grew up along the grandstand.... I'm hoping they'll grow back but it would take many years to get back to what they were. The etched glass flamingo windows are also gone from the Turf Club. I'm hoping that they plan to put them somewhere else because they were really lovely to look at. They also cut down alot of the pretty pines along the Sunny Fitzsimmons path. That really made me mad when I saw that. It was such a famous mile long tree lined path and now that's gone forever just so they could put in a new driveway to the casino they haven't even built yet. Seems to me like they could have put the driveway alot of different places and saved that path. But for all of us die hard Hialeah fans just being able to still go there makes us happy. Wallking in and seeing Citation always brightens my day and of course seeing the flamingos flying around after the fourth race is wonderful. I'm hoping someday they get the thoroughbreds back too.... only if for just a few races... I wish the Breeders Cup would be held there. So many good memories of a place that is like nowhere else. And for anyone who has never seen Hialeah and wants to see it and also laugh themselves silly.... go rent or buy a movie called LET IT RIDE ... it was filmed there and you'll get to see alot of the grounds but the movie is soooooo funny. And if you see The Godfather II watch when Al goes down to Florida. right after they show him sitting on the train they switch right to Hialeah and have him in a car coming out of the tunnel where the horses walk to the track. and then of course The Champ was also filmed there. There was no place like Hialeah in it's old days... it was just glorious!!!!
I'm Truly jealous! Growing up (in the 60's & 70's), to me Hialeah Park WAS Florida racing. The image of the pink flamingo's on the infield was/is a greaat calling card.
Other than the Marlboro Cup, the Flamingo Stakes is the defunct race I miss the most.
marcellomarocco. Thanks for the info. I do hope Hialeah will again be the great place she was in the 60's when I visited her. I hope the Flamingo Stakes will be back as it was one of the top preps for the Derby and winning both the Florida Derby and Flamingo was a big deal on the way to the Triple Crown
Wouldn't it be amazing to have the Historic Flamingo stakes back!.
Well I read last year that a project is underway at Hialeah to rebuild grounds in and around the entire track, and mimic Gulfstream with Shopping, and an entertainment complex all the while keeping the same historic grandstand. When that baby is done the thoroughbreds are expected back and you will see the grand lady rise again :)
Well said and I cannot wait for us all to enjoy the day there Brian. I am excited to be bringing my girlfriend, sister and stepmother as it will be their very first time as well. :)
Excited to check out the Flamingos and Hialeah Park on Sunday!
A lot of the problem for the track was the deterioration of the surrounding neighborhood in the late 90's
hard to believe the powers that be let this one fail
Enjoy your visit. Hialeah was in its heyday one of, and in my opinion, the most beautiful track in the country that I ever visited. The greatest champions raced there and the great barns of the past were all in residence. Dignitaries from all over the world visited Hialeah including Winston Churchill whose horses raced there as well. Sadly it had fallen on hard times. But I am glad racing continues and that Burnetti has applied for some thoroughbred dates as well.
only problem is that quarters these days are about 60% t-bred
been to the extremes with q-horses from little Columbus Texas where the meeting was along side a field of cattle to Los Alamitos for the AQHA championships to watch the great Kaweah Bar, the Palomino Freight Train, wipe them out
Nicely done, Brian. I could see it. I've always wanted to go there.

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Meet Brian Zipse 

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing since birth. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. 
  
As Managing Editor of Horse Racing Nation, Brian authors a daily column as Zipse at the Track, or ZATT for short, and adds his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Brian also serves on the the Board of Directors of ReRun Thoroughbred Adoption and is a Vox Populi committee member. 
  
A graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives in Suburban Chicago with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra, where he is a professional golf instructor when he is not following the horses.