State Menu


Let's do the math, well let's not , lets just say it's been a long time since a horse has raced at either Lincoln Downs, or Narragansett Park. So long in fact that Lincoln Downs has been closed for horse racing, longer than it was open. Narragansett hasn't reached that point yet, only because it opened ten years or so earlier.

Actually it's been so long that I can't remember how I used to get to either track, and I went a lot. I used to drive from Springfield, Massachusetts taking mostly back roads, that I learned from some old timer. It used to go through Sturbridge down to Southbridge before clipping Connecticut, around Thompson. Then there was this real backwoods stretch into Rhode Island that took me past Pascoag, then you hit Chepachet and route 44. All I remember about that last stretch was that there was this hair pin turn with a house right off the road and every once in a while you could tell someone drove into it again. From route 44 the ride to Lincoln was simple, but the trip to Gansett had just begun.

All I cam remember about that part was a lot of warehouses, factories and lights, then like magic you were on Newport Ave. (Rt. 1A) right near the track. I remember parking in a lot off a side street, some old guy was always there selling tip sheets. He always claimed to have inside info. One day i bit, and bought the tip sheet, he gave me the A entry in the eight. How did that work out?  They were off at 20-1 and ran 1-2, dead last. That was it for tip sheets.   

Yeah, It's fuzzy, but when I think back it seems like I had been going there forever, but in reality my time at Rhode Island racing only spanned ten years. Towards the end they were getting a little shabby and run down, but i could look past it for some of those five furlong sprints at Lincoln. So much for nostalgia.          

While there were other tracks in Rhode Island the only sites running by the 1960's were Narragansett Park and Lincoln Downs.

 Narragansett which had the most history ran it's first race on August 1st 1934 some two months after the State of Rhode Island approved pari-mutual racing. The track thrived in the forties and fifties many famous horses and jockeys passed through "Gansett" in that period. As the Seventies were winding downs so was Narragansett, after Labor Day in 1978 the track closed forever.

Lincoln Downs opened it's gates July 7, 1947. It survives to this day not as a horse racing facility but as a dog track. Thoroughbred racing continued into the seventies with the last race run August 9, 1976. Converted into a dog track it caught another break when Rhode Island became the first state to legalize Racino style gaming. Dog racing has also run it's course, as it has been outlawed in the State.

Rhode Island, was probably one of the few, or maybe the only state that never adopted Sunday Racing. Narragansett Park, looks like it tried for it in 1977, but couldn't reach an agreement with the mutual clerks. The Governor of Rhode Island at the time wasn't a fan of Sunday Racing either.  

As for visiting all the tracks in a state, it doesn't get any easier than Rhode Island. You don't have to worry about live racing and if you don't want to do any casino gambling you could do the whole thing in under an hour.

We need a logical starting point, say Plainridge  Race Course in Plainville, Massachusetts. From there it's about thirty minutes to Twin River Casino, the former site of Lincoln Downs. The dog track might still be intact, but there's little sign that thoroughbreds ever embraced the grounds, even the old grandstand is pretty much unrecognizable. Leaving Lincoln, it's about 10 miles to the Pawtucket, East Providence border where Narragansett Park once spanned both borders. After 40 years, all you'll find is an old industrial park that looks like its been there forever, somewhere there should be a street sign that says Narragansett Park Drive. Until around 2014 part of the grandstand was still standing, it was like this half junk store, half abandoned racetrack.

That would do it for Rhode Island, quick but sad, all that's left is to find I-95 and head for Yonkers, where for now there is still racing.