Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Flashback! When The Hero Was The Horse!


I guess looking back through the perspective of time you could say that horse racing was a Republican sport. It wsas glorified in the movies of the day, and in those pre-TV days movie theaters would have a few minutes of news and sports sandwiched between the two films of the double feature. Football was still just a college sport but major horse races were covered.

Why do I call it a Republican sport? Well rich guys bred horses. Poor guys followed the races, spent money to go to the tracks, and for the most part wasted money betting on the horses. Naturally it was illegal to bet off-track. Every town, just about every news stand and every bar had a "bookie" where you could place your bet, but since the sanctioned monopoly of betting where the horse owners made their money wouldn't get a cut, and the government wouldn't get it's cut, it was illlegal. You had to go to the track to make a legal bet.

Hialeah had the most famous track in South Florida but then they built Gulfstream followed maybe twenty years later by Caulder. There was still the competition from dog racing but horses ewere the big excitement. By the late 1960's horse racing had lost something, but the tracks were hurting big time. A younger generation was more interested in listening to rock music and getting stoned. Major rock festivals all over the country were held, trying to recapture the glory of The Big One, Woodstock!

Race tracks had lots of room, lots of parking, grandstand seating, even plenty of rest rooms! And they were hurting! Promoters moved in with rock festivals. Gulfstream Race Track was actually north of the county line in Broward County but nobody would know where Hallandale was. The promoters billed the three day event as The Miami International Pop Festival. I have plenty of photographs. Some of them have appeared on this site. Sweetwater being one that I can think of off hand.

Between the blog and my posting on various photography forums I've corresponded with a lot of people, and met quite a few when they visited the Sout Florida area. I've started taking better notes but I also seem to have become more skilled at losing them. I remember meeting up this couple at Flashback Diner in Hallandale. Good food, easy to find, and about half way between Ft. Lauderdale where they stayed and North Miami where I live. Their names are on one of those lost notes. (Maybe they'll read this and send me an email.)

After lunch we went across the street to Gulfstream. The glamor of a horse track is gone. The days of major rock festivals have faded in the memories of my generation and are mere legends to today's youngsters. The desire to seperate the poor from their money still runs strong in the blood of the rich, and the government wants their cut too. Places with lots of parking are ideal for casinos.

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