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Blue Bonnets (raceway)

Blue Bonnets / Hippodrome de Montréal
Location Decarie Boulevard Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Date opened 1872 in Lachine
June 4, 1907 on Decarie Blvd.
Date closed October 13, 2009
Course type Flat (until 1976) and harness

Blue Bonnets Raceway (later named Hippodrome de Montréal) was a horse racing track and casino in Montreal, Canada. Operating for 137 years, and located on Decarie Boulevard for over a century, it closed October 2009 and is abandoned.



In 1872 the Blue Bonnets racetrack for thoroughbred horse racing opened in Ville Saint-Pierre.

In 1905 John F. Ryan founded the Jockey Club of Montreal.

In 1907, on June 4th, the Club opened the new Blue Bonnets Raceway on Decarie Boulevard. Montagu Allan was president from 1907 until 1920 when he was succeeded by J. K. L. Ross, owner of Sir Barton, the first thoroughbred to win the U.S. Triple Crown. As part of a program honouring important horse racing tracks and racing stables, the Pennsylvania Railroad named its baggage car #5801 the Blue Bonnets.

In 1932, Joseph Cattarinich, Leo Dandurand, and Louis Letourneau owned the track.

In 1943 harness racing began.

In 1954 thoroughbred flat racing ended.

In 1958 Jean-Louis Levesque purchased the track and built a new multi-million dollar clubhouse.

In 1961 thoroughbred flat racing returned.

In 1965, Paul Desmarais' Power Corporation of Canada acquired control.

In 1970, Robert Campeau's company acquired Blue Bonnets. New owners took over in 1973.

In 1973 thoroughbred racing ended permanently.

In 1991 Société d’habitation et de développement de Montréal (SHDM), became owners.

In 1995 it is renamed Hippodrome de Montreal.

In 2008 Hippodrome de Montreal owners filed for bankruptcy protection and, for the first time, suspended all horse racing. The casino (VLT machines and off-site betting) remained open.

In 2009, after provincial government ended its support, the owner declared bankruptcy and shut down the track and casino, ending its 137 year history.

In 2011, the rock band U2 plans to use the venue for two concerts during their U2 360° Tour on July 8 and 9. It will spend $3 million dollars to build a temporary open-air stadium which will accommodate 60,000 to 80,000 people. After the concerts, the stadium will be demolished and will be a real estate development.

Presidents of Blue Bonnets Raceway

  • H. Montagu Allan (1907-1920)
  • Kenneth Thomas Dawes (1931-1933)
  • Joseph Cattarinich (1933-1938)
  • J.-Eugene Lajoie (1938-1939)
  • Louis Letourneau (1939-1942)
  • J. Eugene Lajoie (1942-1958)
  • Raymond Lemay (1970-1973)
  • Alban Cadieux (1973-1983)
  • Andre Marier (1983-1994)
  • Gilbert l'Heureux (1994-1995)
  • Jacques Brulotte (1995-2000)
  • Jean-Pierre Lareau (2000-2002)
  • Richard Castonguay (2002–2007)
  • Senator Paul Massicotte (2007-2009)

Public ownership

In 1991 a municipal government corporation, Société d’habitation et de développement de Montréal (SHDM), acquired Blue Bonnets and in 1995 renamed it Hippodrome de Montreal. Operated by the provincial government agency SONACC (Societe nationale du cheval de course) it had harness racing, inter-track wagering from United States, off-track betting, two restaurants and hundreds of video lottery terminals and slot machines.

Bankruptcy and closure

On June 27, 2008, track operator Attractions Hippiques went into bankruptcy protection. All live horse racing was suspended and the two restaurants closed, with its VLT gambling machines and inter-track wagering operating for several months. Most of the horses and staff relocated to other cities. The court granted 30 days of protection from its creditors in June 2008, however this was extended seven times in sixteen months.

Attractions Hippiques declared bankruptcy on October 13, 2009 and permanently closed the race track.

Future redevelopment of site

City officials announced they want to use the land for residential housing. Plans for redevelopment have been put on hold, as the site is reserved for U2's two night rock concert on July 8 and 9, 2011. Development planning has become unclear, as complications have arose when the Quebec government put the land up for sale for $100 million. It was rumoured that the land would be donated back to the city following the concerts.

External links

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