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Race Dates
1/13 - 4/15



  Hot Springs, Hot Horses !    

Oaklawn ParkOaklawn Park Logo

Oaklawn continues to be a premier site of winter racing. Not your typical racino, during the racing season betters are actually on the apron watching the races, not tethered to a slot machine or simulcast screen. The biggest change, it is now called Oaklawn Racing & Gaming, sadly no more Oaklawn Park.

Oaklawn Park is a one mile dirt oval located within the city limits of Hot Springs, about sixty miles from Little Rock. The facility is glass enclosed and has seating for 26,200 and parking for 5,000 cars. Dining is provided in the Carousel Terrace and the Oaklawn Club, a private club. Racing is run from January to April, featuring the Racing Festival of the South and concluding with the Grade One, Arkansas Derby. Oaklawn Park also has year round gaming and simulcasting. The stable area can accommodate 1,600 horses.      

Located in  the resort  city of Hot Springs  Oaklawn Park has  been hosting  racing since 1905, when it ran a six day  meet. One of a handful of American racetracks around today that survived the anti gambling era of the early meets between  1905 and 1934.

 In  1934  pari-mutual wagering ushered  in a new start  for the only thoroughbred track in Arkansas. Over the years many improvements were made to the Hot Springs site  in both infrastructure and purses. Today it is one of the premiere winter racing sites in the country.

Oaklawn ParkWinners Choice

In the nineteen seventies Oaklawn Park started to gain national attention  when Arkansas Derby winners started doing well in Triple Crown races. In 1983 Sunny's Halo captured the Kentucky Derby and Hot Springs, Arkansas became a legitimate path to Louisville the first Saturday in May.

 In 2011 Oaklawn Park ran it's normal January to April schedule  ending with the Arkansas Derby. Cliff Berry took top riding honors. Oaklawn had a purse value index of 40, making it one of the top tracks in the country.

 In 2012 Oaklawn ran from January to April concluding with the Grade I Arkansas Derby. The derby was won easily by Bodemeister with Mike Smith aboard. M.C. Berry repeated as leading rider and the purse value index increased to 41.

I had the pleasure of visiting Oaklawn Park, for three weekends way back in 1966. It was my first visit to a major track and my first derby. Better Sea with Johnny Sellers up won the Arkansas Derby, I put thirty bucks on the nose of Eladio who ran second and paid $21 to place $11 to show, learned a lesson that day. For some reason I really liked journeyman jockey Jack Fiselman, he rode my favorite horse Help on Way. I also saw a horse named Swift Ruler win the Oaklawn Handicap. Back then the Arkansas Derby purse was $50,000 and stakes weren't graded yet. I did spend some time in Arkansas in 2013 and lied to myself that I should make it back to Oaklawn, but never did.