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Queens Chronicle

I Have Often Walked

Jamaica Race Track

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Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2013 10:30 am

Jamaica Race Track’s official name was the Metropolitan Race Track located at Baisley Boulevard between 165th and 169 Street, opening on April 27 1903. The track was improved and enlarged in 1920.

Favored by sprinters, because of its wide turns and short homestretch, its distance was one mile compared to Belmont’s 1 1/2 mile and aqueducts 1 1/4 mile.

Its four main races were: the Youthful Stakes for two-year old horses, the Wood Memorial for three-year olds, the Excelsior Handicap and Grey Lag Handicap for three-year olds and up.

The track was never a Belmont, Churchill Downs or Saratoga, but was loved and well received by all Queens residents. In 1959, a decision was made to turn it into a profitable housing development venture. A project called Rochdale Village, which was a cooperative had their very own power plant served them well when New York City suffered blackouts, and they were still up and running.

Man-o-war ran in the youthful Stakes as a two-year old in 1919 winning with a 1:06 time at Jamaica and again in 1920 as a three year old. Man-o-war passed away of an apparent heart attack in 1947.

Many employees of the Jamaica Race Track found work at Aqueduct and Belmont, but their hearts after many years of service was always attached to Jamaica.

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