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  Even the Gators Left!     

There really was a place called Gator Downs it was south of Jacksonville on route 1 in Bayard and I have a program to prove it. Not much to find about the place other than it ran Harness Horses around 1970 then ran Quarter Horses till around 1974. Gator Downs seems to have ended its run at Pompano Park in the late seventies somehow there was a Gator Downs at Pompano quarter horse meet for a few years.

Actually Gator Downs was only one of a few names for the Bayard, oval. It started life as Ponce De Leon raceway in 1953 as Florida's first nighttime harness track. Around 1970 the name was changed to Gator Downs. That lasted till 1975 when horse racing ended. After that the track converted to dog racing and was renamed Saint Johns Greyhound Park till 2000 when it's dates were transferred to another Jacksonville greyhound track.     

Just as a note for anyone who would remember them, in the back of the program from 1970 there was a little ad ladies night on Tuesdays and that besides free admission any woman attending all seven nights would receive 1750 plaid stamps! Probably as many people who remember Gator Downs remember what a plaid stamp was.

There is some information that suggests racing might have begun in Bayard as far back as the twenties, when thoroughbreds ran there. The track was said to have been named Kinney Park. 

Currently St. Johns Greyhound Park sits abandoned after the simulcasting facility and poker room were closed, it probably has run it's last race of any kind.