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Oaklawn ParkOaklawn Park is a one-mile thoroughbred track in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Oaklawn Park’s racing season is typically held from January to April. As Arkansas’ premier horse racing track, Oaklawn Park is host to the state’s biggest horse racing event - the Arkansas Derby.

Aside from the Arkansas Derby, other major stakes held at the track are the Essex Handicap, the Razorback Handicap, the Hot Springs, the Carousel and the Fantasy.

Oaklawn Park Track Info

  Oaklawn Park - Main Track
Track Shape:
Track Length:
Homestretch Length:
1 mile
1,155 feet

Selected Oaklawn Park track records

Largest Opening Day Attendance



Largest Opening Day Handle



Largest Season Attendance



Largest Average Daily Attendance



Largest Season Purse Distribution



Largest Average Daily Purses



Largest Season Handle



Largest Average Daily Handle



Largest Single Day Attendance



Largest Single Day Handle



Largest Daily Double Handle



Major Milestones in the history of Oaklawn Park

1905 - On February 24, Oaklawn Park opened its doors to horse racing enthusiasts. A crowd of some 3,000 attended as the day was declared a half-day holiday by Hot Springs Mayor John Belding. Duelest won the first race at the new track.

1907 - Due to political problems in the state, racing was suspended.

1916 - Racing resumed at Oaklawn. The track is now owned by Louis Cella.

1936 - The Arkansas Derby was born with a purse $5,000. First winner was Holl Image.

1945 - Racing throughout the United States ended for an indefinite period at the request of War Mobilization Director James F. Byrnes. However, the ban was lifted May 9 of the same year. A 30-day season was held on November 5 through December 8 for the lost Spring season. On opening day, an estimated crowd of 4,200 attended, and $189,289 was wagered.

1952 - Oaklawn gained national attention when its handle rose from a daily average of $336,341 to $434,667. Attendance climbs from 7,057 a day to 7,739.

Oaklawn Park
Hot Springs, Arkansas

Click to Enlarge

1959 - The Meeting reached two milestones when its averages reached 10,000 in attendance and $500,000 pari-mutuel handle.

1965 - Arkansas Derby purse increased to $50,000.

1970 - Records continue to be broken. During the 50-day meeting, a total crowd of 556,000 attended and bet $43,366,921. The averages were 11,120 and $867,338.

1973 - The first running of the Fantasy Stakes, for 3-year-old fillies, took place.

1974 - The Racing Festival of the South was born. The pari-mutuel handle for the meeting amounted to $80,199,719.

1980 - More than 250,000 fans attended the Racing Festival of the South. Temperence Hill won the Arkansas Derby.

1984 - The purse for the Arkansas Derby was increased to $500,000.

1986 - A record single day attendance of 71,203 saw Nancy and John Reed's Rampage win the Golden Anniversary running of the $500,000 guaranteed Arkansas Derby.

1991 - The Oaklawn Club was completely renovated.

1996 - Oaklawn Park achieved a record handle of $10,653,518 on Arkansas Derby Day.

2000 - Instant Racing, a pari-mutuel electronic system which allows players to wager on previously-run races, was introduced and field-tested at Oaklawn Park.

2002 - Oaklawn Park saw across-the-board increases in attendance and mutuel handle.

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