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History of Horse Racing in Toledo

Raceway-Park

These horses and jockeys, running at Raceway Park on Oct. 24, 1983, are part of the more than century-old tradition of horse racing in the Toledo, Ohio, area.

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Fort-Miami-Horse-Racing-Lights

Fort Miami Fairgrounds made horse racing history in 1929 as the first track to install a lighting system for nighttime running. Engineers from Toledo Edison Co. planned and installed the lighting. Many of the 600 horses quartered here were used over several weeks to test the track for shadows and glare, both for the horses and spectators.

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Fort-Miami-Horse-Racing-Betting

Mr. and Mrs. Carl J. Schroder of Findlay peruse the racing form April 2, 1957, at Fort Miami. Retired Blade sportswriter Seymour Rothman said people "made a real evening of it" by coming to the track to eat dinner, walk through the paddock, stay for all the races, and place bets.

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Fort-Miami-Grandstand

Trotters and pacers get in final workouts June 6, 1947, before the opening of a four-week harness racing program at Fort Miami. The standard breds can be seen coming down the stretch in front of the grandstand in a morning drill. The site, which later became Maumee Downs, is now the location of the Lucas County Fairgrounds.

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Fort-Miami-Horseshoe

Fans were invited behind the scenes at the local tracks to view the horses before post time, which some used as an opportunity to judge how a horse might perform and thus how to wager. On Sept. 21, 1947, at Fort Miami, farrier James Windsor of Bellefontaine, Ohio, works on a shoe for Abby, an 8-year-old gelding of C.A. Faulters of Sidney, being held by the harness by caretaker Martin Houstin of Ulrichsville, Ohio.

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Fort-Miami-Jockeys-Mud

Mud-spattered jockeys, from left, J. Baird, J.M. Wagner, A. Martinez, and W.D. Lucas get their picture taken after the second race April 23, 1952, at Fort Miami racetrack.

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Fort-Miami-Rocking-Chairs-Frank-Morris-Jimmie-Carroll-Harry-Gray-Billy-Morrow-Killey

Looking over the race forms for a Sept. 21, 1947, race at Fort Miami include Frank Morris of Celina, Ohio, Jimmie Carroll of New York City, and Harry Gray and Billy Morrow, both of Toledo. Morrow's dog Killey, an 8-month-old Dalmation lying next to his rocking chair, is a companion of the horse Duke of Kent.

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Fort-Miami-Photo-Finish

The eighth race at Fort Miami Fairgrounds on April 18, 1956, was a photo finish. The white line is drawn to show the nose of the No.4 horse reaching the finish line first.

FORT MIAMI

Maumee-Downs-Photo-Finish

A dead heat for first among three horses like this photo finish is among the reasons crowds flocked to Maumee Downs.

JONES PRECISION PHOTO

Maumee-Downs-Crowd

Spectators stand shoulder to should at Maumee Downs on April 6, 1959. The track was on what would become the playing field for Toledo's Triple-A baseball team, the Mud Hens, at Ned Skeldon Stadium.

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Maumee-Downs-Wagering-Windows

Tellers Bill Pote, left, and Neil Sullivan stand at the wagering windows May 14, 1959, at Maumee Downs. Bets to "win" mean the horse must come in first; "place," first or second; and "show," first, second or third.

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Horse-Smile-Bookworm-Benjamin-Horch

The horse Bookworm "smiles" for the camera with Benjamin Horch on Sept. 25, 1960. The bit of a bridle is not held in a horse's teeth but in the interdental space, an area with no teeth where the bit can rest with the jaw closed.

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Maumee-Downs-Award-Jeanne-Phillips-Bobby-Wall-Sue-Wankentin

Jeanne Phillips, reigning Miss Toledo, presents an award to jockey Bobby Wall as he stands with young Sue Wankentin on Oct. 27, 1958, at Maumee Downs racetrack.

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Maumee-Downs-Call-Booth-JJ-Hahn-Tom-Mulligan-Harland-Smith

Chart-caller J.J. Hahn peers through field glasses at the track as Tom Mulligan stands nearby and Harland Smith, right, sits at the Teletype machine in the call booth at Maumee Downs.

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Raceway-Park-Photo-Finish

With hundreds, thousands and even hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line, a photo to determine the order of horses finishing the race can be critical, like this April 4, 1961, photo finish at Raceway Park.

RACEWAY PARK

Raceway-Parking-Lot

Raceway Park's parking lot is at capacity on the evening of April 9, 1962, as spectators come to watch the horses run. The decade before, the cars were the thing to watch on the track as Raceway Park was opened in 1949 for stock car racing.

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Raceway-Park-Turf-Club

Hostess Irma Lichtenwald greets Mr. and Mrs. Sylvester Hechura and Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Monalian on July 7, 1967, at Raceway Park as the couples prepare to enjoy a meal in the Turf Club with an open view of harness racing on the track.

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Raceway-Park-Home-Stretch

The crowds at Raceway Park watch horses come down the home stretch on April 4, 1960. Thoroughbred racing was expensive to maintain and more vulnerable to weather, such as creating soft spots in the track, so by 1973 Raceway Park was offering only harness racing. The sulkies were still circling the track there in 2011.

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