Week 3

Day 12 Sunday, August 14

BrandywineBrandywine Raceway

Were going to start week three with a couple of days at the Maryland Shore in the resort town of Ocean City. As usual we have a few stops before we get there. A short drive from where we stayed last night in Stanton, is to the ghost of Brandywine Raceway. Once considered one of the premier harness tracks in the nation Brandywine went out of business in 1989, if it had hung on a few more years, it might still be around as a racino. Today, the ghost of Brandywine resides in the Beaver Valley Plaza, the Brandywine Parkway which circles the mall, the only sign it was ever there. Get ready to start your engines were heading south.

Dover DownsDover Downs

Our next stop is about an hour down Route 13, to Dover. Here we find Dover Downs, one of the most unique tracks in the country. Somewhere back in 1969, someone decided that Dover Downs should host two types of racing, one with horses, the other with horsepower. If you visit the gift shop there, you'll figure out the dominant one in a hurry, you won't find a single piece of horse racing merchandize in the place. What started out as a small time thoroughbred track on the outskirts of town, is now the main focus as a NASCAR track, hotel, casino. Horse racing is just a sideshow, but no matter were off season and there is no live racing, check out the grandstand and track if you can find them. The next stop is how things are without a NASCAR track.

HarringtonHarrington Raceway

We stay right on Route 13, for about a half hour after leaving Dover Downs, before we come to Harrington, the home of Harrington Raceway. No speedway here, other than the addition of a modest casino, Harrington Raceway probably hasn't changed much since it opened as Kent & Sussex Raceway back in 1946. Usually you will find live harness racing at either Dover or Harrington almost year round, of course except for now, again no live racing, but you can still look around do some simulcasting or try your luck at the casino, but we need to be in Ocean City, for check in by late afternoon. We still have one stop before we get to Maryland, this time what a track in Delaware looks like without a casino.

Were going to jump off Route 13 in Harrington and continue south on Route 113 to Georgetown, the home of Georgetown Raceway. What does a track in Delaware look like without a casino? Nothing! Yup another ghost. This track only existed for seven years, 1965 - 1971, and pretty much was in trouble it's entire existence. You have to watch this one or you'll go right by it and never know it. When you get to Route 9 in Georgetown, take a left, look for airport road on your right on the other side of the road there are a couple of old buildings, behind them was Georgetown Raceway. A few years ago the crumbling grandstand was still there, but it's gone now, from the ground there's little to tell that a track was once here. Little time wasted here we can head for the Delaware Shore and eventually Ocean City.

We stay on Route 9, till we reach Route 1, The Coastal Highway, we pass Rehoboth Beach, and Bethany Beach on the one an a half hour drive to Ocean City. You can find a couple of free pull offs if you want to go dip your toes in the Atlantic. Hopefully we've arrived early at our hotel, where we check in for a couple of nights, but don't get to cozy we still have a night of racing and gaming at Ocean Downs.

Ocean DownsOcean Downs

A short drive off the island and we come to Ocean Downs, also once know as Delmarva Downs. Ocean Downs opened in 1948 as a small time seasonal harness track. Ocean Downs, still racing only during the tourist season hit the jackpot in 2011, when it opened as Maryland's only racino, up to that point it's future seemed a little bleak. So enjoy the fair style atmosphere and after the races maybe some hard core gambling. The best part is we'll be back tomorrow.

Day 12 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 155 77.50 260.00
Total 2216 1108.00 1660.00

Day 13 Monday, August 15

Ocean DownsOcean City Boardwalk

Today the car gets a break and so do we, it's time to catch up on some laundry and enjoy a day on the Ocean City Boardwalk (like Old Orchard Beach on steroids), before we head back to Ocean Downs for a bonus night of harness racing. It's also a good time to reflect on how complicated this is becoming, at least for finding live racing. Tomorrow were heading to Mainland Maryland, where not a single live race is being run this week. Not only are the number of tracks still running going down, the number of days they race are also decreasing, making it difficult to be at the right place at the right time, without wasting a lot of days. Guess I'm going to need to plan a couple more trips, once isn't going to be enough! Seeing as how we didn't drive many mile we had to kick in an extra one hundred bucks for expenses.     

Day 13 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 10 105.00 260.00
Total 2226 1213.50 1920.00

Day 14 Tuesday, August 16

BowieBowie Training Center

Today is not another day at the beach, sun and surf are done, at least for a couple of days. Were going to head out of Ocean City and stay on Route 50 for about two and a half hours, to the Town of Bowie. Here we find the remnants of Bowie Race Course, the home of "The Bowie Breed", what the first fans to come out for winter racing were called around here. Horses still run around the Bowie Track, but only to exercise. The grandstand is long but the site is still very active as a training facility. On your way to the track you should pass under an old covered wooden bridge, this is how the horses got to the track from the barns. We also cross over a bridge that has some very ornate horse heads at each end. Our next stop has a similar story to Bowie, but with a different twist.

MarlboroMarlboro Race Course

We're going to down the road about a half hour to Upper Marlboro, the one time home of Marlboro Race Course. Like Bowie racing ended long ago, but the track surface is still there and like Bowie the grandstand is gone, burnt to the ground years back and there are even horses. That's where the similarities end, Marlboro is now an equestrian center and the horses are for show, not racing. At least like some other tracks, they did name a street after it, Marlboro Race Track Road. Next were switching breeds and heading to a place you can at least place a bet today.

RosecroftRosecroft Raceway

We're in a pretty good area here for finding tracks, there are a lot and there pretty close together. With no live racing this time of year in Maryland we can cruise through most of them in a day. A half hour from Marlboro we come to Oxon Hill, the home of the candy cane racetrack, Rosecroft Raceway, at least it looks like a candy cane. Some time it's listed as being in Fort Washington, who knows. Rosecroft is the closest track to the District of Columbia, only a few miles from it's southern border. Rosecroft is open year round for simulcasting and runs live races twice a week, eight months out of the year, this month not being one of them. Given up for dead the track was closed a few years back, but has come back to life for now. We can do a little simulcasting or wait till the next stop?

LaurelLaurel Park

Once again another half hour trip puts us in the Town of Laurel, home of Laurel Park. Not the oldest track in Maryland, but Laurel Park has been around for over a hundred years. Before the days of the Breeders Cup, Lauer was host to the most prestigious turf races in the country, The Washington D.C. International. Without the aide of a casino, Laurel still maintains a decent stakes schedule with many six figure purses toped of by The Maryland Million Card. Again were a little off season, but there is simulcasting to be had and don't forget to check out the old roundhouse saddling enclosure. Oh, before I get too far down the road, actually should have mentioned it at Rosecroft, were only a few miles from Washington D.C., lots to see and do, if you never been you might want to stay awhile. As for me need to push on, got a ghost a few blocks away.

LaurelFreestate Raceway

A few blocks from Laurel Park, we come to the former site of Freestate Raceway, a nighttime harness track than ended operations in 1989. Starting out in 1949, as Laurel Raceway, started out with some promise, but that was 1949 and hardly any track did poorly back then. As time passed Laurel Raceway started to become your standard tale of woe. It burned down, a track official embezzled funds, it was sold, it was remodeled, it lost money, it was sold, it burnt down for good. Today it is the site of an industrial park and it does have the standard street named after it, so keep an eye out on route 1 for Freestate Drive, you actually go by it twice as it loops around the industrial park. Wave as you go by, because there's no other sign a track ever existed here. Next we head about forty minutes up the road to Baltimore and the home of The Preakness.

PimlicoPimlico Race Course

Pimlico Race Course, first opened in 1870 and is said to be the second oldest thoroughbred track in the country. The most recognized of the Maryland Tracks, Pimlico is home to the Preakness, the second jewel of The Triple Crown. Pimlico has recently gotten out from under the Stronach Group, but the Old Hilltop is probably no way near solvent. There are only 28 live racing dates, run in May and June and the Preakness might be the only reason it's still standing, but it still is. We should be able to look around The Old Lady and get in some simulcasting because this will be our last chance in Maryland. When we leave we'll be heading for our final stop today.


In about ten minutes we should arrive at our last stop. It is in Timonium, sight of the Maryland State Fair Grounds, this is the last fair track remaining on the Maryland Circuit that at one time hosted a five track schedule. Usually were late, but this time were two weeks early, this was our best shot at live thoroughbred racing in Maryland. With the fair being so close, maybe we can get a closer look, if not the grandstand is visible from the highway. Not much else to do, no simulcasting here, it's getting late and we covered a lot of ground today, so we should head out find a motel and get ready to head back to Pennsylvania tomorrow.

Day 14 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 220 110.00 120.00
Total 2446 1323.50 2040.00

Day 15 Wednesday, August 17

Today we only have one stop about an hour and a half up I-83, to Grantville, Pennsylvania the home of Penn National Race Course. Before we leave Timonium I want to throw out a couple of side trip options. Under an hour on I-95 from Timonium are two track graveyards that don't fit the timeline of this website but do have significant historical value, one is the old track at Havre de Grace, a one time major east coast track. The other is Bel-Air a one time member of the Maryland Fair Circuit, or you might want something sweeter.

On the way to Grantville, you'll be close to Hershey,(you'll never guess what they do there) you can tour the town, or you might be interested in going to Hershey Park, one of the larger amusement parks on the east coast. Myself I'm taking the easy ride, finding a motel for the night and heading for the casino.

Penn NationalPenn National Race Course

  Penn National Race Course opened in 1972, replacing I think the thoroughbred meet at Pocono Downs. Under Pennsylvania law a track can not run mixed racing, which for a while took place because all the state had were harness tracks, so for a few years these tracks ran both breeds till new tracks could be built. I guess you would have considered Penn National a minor nighttime track, even though it did have a turf course. In 2008 when casino wagering was legalized in Pennsylvania, Penn National really took off, not so much for racing but with the formation of Penn Gaming and it's brand Hollywood Casinos, which seem to be everywhere in the region. Enjoy the day, try the casino, do some simulcasting before the main event live thoroughbred racing tonight and don't worry if you don't get enough Hollywood, were headed to another one tomorrow, told you they were  everywhere.

Day 8 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 85 42.50 80.00
Total 2,531 1,366.00 2,120.00

Day 16 Thursday, August 18

Were going back to Hollywood, not the real one, but the one in Charles Town, West Virginia. Before we leave the Harrisburg area there is a cultural stop that we could make on the way. It's the Civil War Battlefield ground at Gettysburg. If your not a Civil War buff, we can just head out on I-81  for our first stop at Hagerstown.

HagerstownHagerstown Fairgrounds

  Whichever route you take, you will eventually arrive at Hagerstown, the old home of racing at the fairgrounds, racing started there in 1929. Part of the Maryland Fair Circuit racing ended in 1970. Hagerstown is a little different from most ghost tracks, it has no track, but the grandstand is still there. Another plus is that it's a public park so it should be easy to look around. You wont see any horses running, but you might catch a softball game or two, as the old track surface was divided into baseball diamonds. Another note before leaving, about an hour to the west is another ghost track at Cumberland, like Hagerstown the grandstand is still intact and it too was part of the fair circuit. Also know as Fairgo Race Track, it went under in 1961, which is why it's not part of this website. It's still there it's close, we got time, lets go.

We leave Cumberland and backtrack on I-70, to our original route on I-81. Heading south we exit in Martinsburg on to Route 9, The Veterans Memorial Highway which will take us into Charles Town, West Virginia the home of the twin tracks there, ones dead ones alive.

Pretty much joined at the hip since 1959 when Shenandoah Downs was built, they shared a circuit for around twenty years. The tale goes that the five eight mile Shenandoah Downs was built for harness racing, but never got approval from the state to run standerdbreds, would make more since why two tracks ended up on the same footprint. Owned by separate entities, Shenandoah Downs was bought out by neighbor Charles Town Race Course and for economical reasons was shut down.

Charles TownCharles Town Race Track

Our last stop is at Charles Town Race Track, also known as Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, depending on home many stops we made, worst case were here by late afternoon, just in time to check into our trackside hotel room. Charles Town once one of the last stops for race horses and in serious trouble with it's own existence made a remarkable recovery with the help of gaming in 1997. It is also one of the few original racinos that has not received any competition. So lets check in and enjoy some gaming and live racing tonight, be sure to get your fill, where heading for a dry spell.

At some point before we leave, we should wander over to the site of Shenandoah Downs, it's just an empty lot now, nothing to really see, just memories of those day night doubleheaders the use to run in the sixties.

Day 16 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 241 120.00 200.00
Total 2,772 1,486.00 2,320.00

Day 17 Friday, August 19

ColonialColonial Downs

When we say good bye to Charles Town this morning, we say good bye to gambling, at least for a while. Even if you have an on line account it might not do you much good where were headed.

We head out on the back roads of West Virginia and Virginia, till we meet up with I-95 to Richmond. From there we take I-64 to New Kent, the site of Virginia's only pari mutual racetrack, Colonial Downs. Opened in 1997 the track closed in 2014 over a dispute of the number of race days they needed to run. Not officially dead, the more time that passes, the less hope there is that it will return. Looks like it might end up a golf course.

Neatly disguised as a Colonial Southern Mansion, there is a good chance we wont get to see it, Colonial Downs is well hidden from any road and with nothing going on it likely we'll run into some sort of roadblock, but we won't know till we get there. From here I get to reminisce for a few minutes.

Heading down I-64 we cross the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel and some vague familiar territory. Right over the bridge is a motel that once was The King Neptune Inn (his statue is still there). From their parking lot I can look across Willoughby Bay and see the home of my old Navy Squadron, the other direction is an old shack I use to live in (I can't believe it's still standing). This is a bittersweet place, I was never crazy about Norfolk but back in the mid to late sixties it provided me a base to attend many of the tracks we have visited so far. enough for sentiment, lets soldier or sailor on to our final destination today, The Outer Banks in North Carolina.

Day 17 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 324 162.00 210.00
Total 3,096 1,648.00 2,530.00

Day 18 Saturday, August 20

Since were heading into no mans land for horse racing, The Carolinas and Georgia, summer is starting to wane, so let's spend some time at the beach.

We arrived late yesterday, so I thought it would be nice to spend a whole day enjoying the great surf here and taking in the sites. You can go over to Kitty Hawk and soar with the Wright Brothers or tour the lighthouses on the Outer Banks, I think one still lets you walk up to the top. Most of all before you leave, don't forget to get that OBX sticker for the car.

Tomorrow starts week four, I'm planning another beach stay at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, but if your the real campy type you might not to pass up South of the Border on I95 at the North and South Carolina border, the areas  largest souvenir, truck stop, amusement park, firecracker selling place in the land. Me I'm going to the beach, how many ashtrays do you really need, nobody really smokes anymore, do they!

Day 18 Miles Cost Lodging
Today 40 150.00 210.00
Total 3,136 1,798.00 2,740.00

Tracks Visited Live
Week 3 17 3
Total 59 11

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