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Sheepshead Bay Race Track was an Americanmarker Thoroughbred horse racing facility built on the site of the Coney Island Jockey Club at Sheepshead Bay, New Yorkmarker. Old railroad track diagrams for the Manhattan Beach Branch of the LIRR showing the spur that served both the club and the racetrack indicates the entrance to the club was located on the east side of Ocean Avenue between Avenues X and Y. [462075]

The racetrack was built by a group of prominent businessmen from the New York Citymarker area who formed the Coney Island Jockey Club in 1880. Led by Leonard Jerome and the track's President, William Kissam Vanderbilt, the Club held seasonal race cards at nearby Prospect Parkmarker fairgrounds until construction of the new race course was completed in 1884.

Sheepshead Bay had both a dirt and a turf course.

Principle backers:

The new Sheepshead Bay Race Track's premier event was the Suburban Handicap, conceived by James G. K. Lawrence who became the track's president. Four years later Lawrence would also create the Futurity Stakes, first run on Labor Day in 1888. At the time, the Futurity was the richest race ever run in the United States. Today, both the Suburban and the Futurity are ongoing Graded stakes races held at the Belmont Parkmarker racetrack in Elmontmarker on Long Islandmarker. The Lawrence Realization Stakes was named for James G. K. Lawrence.

In 1910, the administration of Governor Charles Evans Hughes banned all racetrack betting in New York State. The loss of the vast majority of their income resulted in every racetrack in New York Statemarker closing its doors. Although the ban was lifted for the 1913 racing season, by then it was too late for the Sheepshead Bay Race Track, which was sold to the Sheepshead Bay Speedway Corporation

The new owner converted the facility to a wooden board automobile race track. Several auto races were held from October, 1915, through September, 1919, including the Astor Cup Race and the Harkness Trophy Race. The Sheepshead Bay Speedway Corporation ran into financial difficulties, following the January, 1919, death of its majority shareholder, Harry Harkness. The property was sold in 1923 for residential real estate development. No trace of the racetrack can be found today.

In 1959, the Sheepshead Bay Handicap was named in honor of the old racetrack, and first run at the now-defunct Jamaica Racetrack in Jamaica, New Yorkmarker. It, too, is currently held at Belmont Park.


See also defunct New York race tracks

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