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Tropical Park Race Track

Tropical Park Race Track was a horse racing facility built on 245 acres (0.99 km2) at the current intersection of Bird Road and the Palmetto Expressway in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida, in what is now the census-designated place of Olympia Heights. The race track was built by Bill Dwyer, a prohibition era bootlegger, and Frank Bruen with backing from Canadian distilling tycoon, Samuel Bronfman. It opened on December 26, 1931, and closed in 1972. The track hosted meets for both for Thoroughbred and Standardbred horses.

Tropical Park introduced the first synthetic racetrack surface for horse racing in the 1966-67 season. Known as "Tartan Turf, " it was a rubberized surface manufactured by the 3M company. Built inside the regular dirt track, one race per day was contested on the Tartan track but for safety reasons the majority of horse trainers and owners refused to run their horses on the track.

The Tropical Park racetrack's final owner was Saul Silberman who bought it in 1953 after president Henry L. Straus died in a plane crash. A major gambler from Cleveland, Ohio, Silberman was a former majority shareholder of the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League who had also owned Randall Park Race Track in North Randall, Ohio and the Painesville Raceway in Northfield, Ohio. By the time Silberman died in 1971 the track had suffered in an overcrowded market with strong competition from Hialeah Park, Gulfstream Park, and the new Calder Race Course which opened in 1971. Tropical Park was closed by Silberman's heirs after the 1972 racing season.

In 1979, the Miami-Dade County Parks and Recreation service converted the facility into a public park they named Tropical Park. [1] The park offers a number of sports activities including Tropical Park Stadium used for track and field athletics. The old racetrack's stables were used as part of the park's equestrian center.

References

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