Latonia Race Track
Latonia Race Track on Winston Avenue in Latonia (Covington) Kentucky, six miles south of Cincinnati, Ohio, was a Thoroughbred horse racing facility opened in 1883. The track hosted a spring-summer racing series and a second in late fall. It was once regarded as among the United States' top sites for racing, and drew more than 100,000 visitors annually. The 1924 Kentucky Derby winner Black Gold ran at Latonia Race Track, and jockey Eddie Arcaro got his start there.
The Latonia Derby
The track's main attraction was the annual 1½ mile Latonia Derby, initially run as the "Hindoo Stakes " in honor of the great Kentucky-bred champion Hindoo.It became so popular that in 1912 a motion picture was made by Independent Motion Picture Co. titled Winning the Latonia Derby that featured silent film star King Baggot.
The inaugural 1883 Latonia Derby was won by Kentucky Derby winner Leonatus. Future Derby winners Kingman (1891), Halma (1895), Ben Brush (1896), Lieut. Gibson (1900), Elwood (1904), and Sir Huon (1906) also won the race and the 1918 edition was won by Harry Payne Whitney's Belmont Stakes winning colt, Johren.
In November 1909, an airmeet was held at Latonia. The airmeet was a small affair, but included famed aviator Glenn Curtiss and others such as Charles Willard and Roy Knabenshue. The highlight of the meet was a race held between Curtiss and Willard "for a cup offered by the local capitalist." The meet was "understood to be the opening move to secure for Cincinnati the international aviation meet in 1910," although the meet would eventually be held in Dominguez Field, Los Angeles instead.
Five horses crashed at the start of a 1917 race.
The 1924 International Special
On October 11, 1924, 60,000 racing fans flocked to Latonia Race Track to witness the third and final edition of the International Special races that pitted the honored guest, French champion Epinard, against top American horses. The race featured stars of the day such as Chilhowee and Belmont Stakes winner Mad Play plus future U.S. Hall of Famers Princess Doreen and Sarazen. It was Sarazen who won the race and with it sealed Horse of the Year honors. Epinard finished second, as he had done in the previous two International Specials at Belmont Park and Aqueduct Racetrack in New York.
Financial difficulties during the Great Depression forced Latonia Race Track to close its doors with its last race card held on July 29, 1939. The facility was sold to Standard Oil of Ohio and dismantled during World War II. Today the property is the site of the Latonia Shopping Center.
In 1959, a new operation called the Latonia Race Course opened in Florence, Kentucky about 10 miles south of the original Latonia site. In 1986 that facility changed its name to Turfway Park.