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  Tropical Winter at Calder!     

Tropical ParkTropical Park Logo

Tropical Park opened in 1931, after a forty year run, it was put out to pasture in 1972. Located in Coral Gables about twelve mile from Miami it featured an open air grandstand, that sat 8,750 with a climate controlled clubhouse that sat another 4,270. There was also a set of bleachers or field stand as they called it, that sat another 1,500. The track itself was a one mile dirt oval. in 1966 the first synthetic track "The Tartan Track" was installed inside the main track, but was sparingly used. There was accommodations for 1,300 horses on the grounds. As was the custom at most large tracks during that era, you could always get yourself a trim or a shave at the track barber shop.         

Tropical Park was part of the Southern Florida circuit with Hialeah and Gulfstream. It was the first meet of the Winter season down south in the days when Northern tracks were dark during this period.

Tropical ParkSummer Racing in Miami

Tropical Park  became the first casualty of race date conflicts with the addition of Calder Race Course in the Miami area. It is now the site of an Equestrian Center in Coral Gables.

In the mid sixties Tropical Park became the first ever to use a synthetic surface "The Tartan Track". It was installed as an inner seven furlong course. An east coast supermarket chain use to run a game show called "Let's Go To The Races" weekly and races from Tropical Park were used. 

Although you can't go to Tropical Park for racing anymore the track lives on at Calder Race Course. Every year the winter meet is conducted as Tropical at Calder. Separate records are kept for Tropical and many of the original stakes races are still run.

Near the end of it's run Tropical Park attempted to host harness racing, it appears some races were run over the Tropical oval but the idea never caught on. At least not enough to save the track from extinction. 

I never made it to Tropical Park, but got to see a lot of it on "Let's go to the races", it looked like an interesting place. Tropical Park has now been closed longer than it was open and more disturbing than that is the fact that it's surviving namesake meet, "Tropical at Calder" might be in jeopardy as Calder Race Course is fighting for it's life in Southern Miami. As of this update to Tropical Park, Calder Race Course has lost that fight and joins Tropical Park in race track heaven.