Disneyland is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year and so is Turf Paradise. Arizona’s first sports franchise opened its doors in January 1956 at 15th Ave. and Bell Road. At the time, the track was in the middle of the desert and fans had to navigate a pair of dirt roads to watch and wager on horse racing.
Since then, Phoenix has grown up around Turf Paradise as it gets ready to celebrate its 60th season just months after renewed interest in the sport of horse racing following American Pharoah’s Triple Crown victory.
Opening day is October 17th. There will be a full card of live horse racing, free t-shirts for the first 5,000 paid admission, live music, a kids fun park, a barbecue tent, and a rare display of LeRoy Neiman’s classic painting of Seattle Slew.
The gates open at 11am and the first post time is 12:30. The race card includes the $35,000 Bienvenidos Stakes.
Opening day will be a day long party celebrating 60 sizzling seasons of horse racing in Phoenix. It will also serve as the debut of new track announcer Robert Fox who comes Turf Paradise from Ruidoso Downs in News Mexico and Tucson’s Rillito Park.
The Clubhouse will also be hosting a one of a kind display from Scottsdale’s Larsen Art Auction, LeRoy Neiman’s “Seattle Slew.” The Triple Crown winner is depicted mid-gallop, and includes his own hoof print in the corner on top of Neiman’s signature.
Turf Paradise has passed through three other owners to its current owner, Jerry Simms, who will preside over the track’s 60th season of racing with a 136-day meet running from October 17-May 8, 2016.
There are 35 stakes races this season with a combined value of $1.45 million.
They include the $75,000 Phoenix Gold Cup (Feb. 13), the $75,000 Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile (Jan. 16) and the $75,000 Turf Paradise Derby (Feb, 20).
As always fans can watch and wager on races locally and across the globe.
The season also includes
- Special Fiesta Sundays throughout the season featuring Mexican food and music
- Breeders Cup Party October 31st
- A Thanksgiving Weekend Party
- 60th Anniversary Party featuring the $75,000 Cotton Fitzsimmons Mile January 16th
- Super Saturday February 13th
- Wiener Dog Races March 12th
- Camel and Ostrich Races March 26th
- Kentucky Derby Party May 7th
As always grandstand admission is just $2. There will also be food and drink specials.
Turf Paradise General Manager Vincent Francia said, “Very few businesses in Phoenix have been continually operating at the same location for 60 years. At a time when the sport of horse racing is struggling, we have been blessed with a loyal and growing fan base. After American Pharoah’s Triple Crown victory, more people are discovering the sport of horse racing. We welcome them to our growing family of fans.”
Who: Turf Paradise
What: Opening Day at Turf Paradise
When: October 17th Gates open at 11a.m.
Where: Turf Paradise 1501 West Bell Road
Why: To start the 60th season of horseracing in Arizona
Grandstand Admission– $2
Turf Club/Clubhouse– $4
General Parking– Free