BY ANGIE AGUILA/GAZETTE WRITER
RIVER CITIES GAZETTE
What do you get when you combine timeless elegance and South Florida nightlife? This unique combination can be found just a hop, skip and a jump away at Hialeah Park, known simply as “The World’s Most Beautiful Race Course.”
Hialeah Park just recently opened its casino doors and this weekend will host a grand three-day celebration. The event will include fireworks this Friday night, Aug. 30, Willie Chirino in concert on Saturday night, and Miami Springs’ own jazz legend Joe Donato on Sunday afternoon, among other events.
“Hialeah Park Casino is a special project in many ways. Historically speaking, the park is considered a Mecca and to be part of the team responsible for bringing back the ‘Grande Dame’ to glory is an incredible experience,” said Niurka Zamora, Hialeah Park Casino promotions and media manager. “The great roster of talent being put together at the park to make Hialeah Park Casino an entertainment destination for all is phenomenal. I would like to extend an invitation not only to all of South Florida, but to the rest of the country. Come out and feel the Hialeah Park Casino experience!”
The racetrack recently has undergone massive renovations to bring South Florida a beautiful new casino, which mirrors the old-world elegance that made Hialeah Park a legend many years ago. This massive project is the great passion of owner John Brunetti. Brunetti’s objective is to restore “The Grand Dame” to her prior glory and, in the process, create a city center for both South Florida residents and visitors from all across the world.
The new state-of-the-art casino proudly boasts over 880 slot machines and 20 poker tables, as well as electronic roulette and blackjack tables. One of the many unique features at the casino is that it was constructed so that patrons can look out windows to the track. The elegant casino is just Phase 1 of the construction. Big plans are under way for the revitalization and expansion of the entire property, including a full-service hotel, shops, restaurants and museum.
It all started in 1920 when aviation pioneer Glenn Curtis and Missouri cattleman James Bright began to develop Hialeah by donating land for community use while helping to acquire funds for construction of public buildings, facilities and, yes, a racetrack.
Winston Churchill and President John F. Kennedy once walked through turnstiles at Hialeah Park, which is set within 200 acres of lush landscape and 16th Century French Mediterranean architecture. Walking the grounds is like taking a step back in time, with stories around every corner.
“In the summer of 1963 I fell in love twice, once with my wife and once with Hialeah Race Park. I have been in love with both ever since,” said longtime Miami Springs resident Ken Wilde, who worked his way through college at Hialeah Race Track. “Hialeah was once the most beautiful race park in the world and thanks to John Brunetti it appears well on its way to recapturing that title. We are fortunate to have this world-class park so close to us in Miami Springs.”
Hialeah will hold its fifth Quarter Horse race meet from Nov. 29 through Feb. 23. The American Quarter Horse is known as the World’s Fastest Athlete. It’s that exciting racing action that Hialeah Park is known for. During the Hialeah Park off-season, simulcasting is available from tracks nationwide in conjunction with the Gulfstream Park season.
Hialeah Park offers the casino, racing, dining, entertainment, rich history lessons and, of course, their famous flamingos. Hialeah Park has fun events planned for all ages like “Salsa Under the Stars” and “Jazz in the Park.”
Miami Springs resident Joe Donato will perform this Sunday, Sept. 1 at the park’s first Jazz in the Park event. “Sunday will be a Labor Day of Love and a lot of jazz,” said Donato. “I’ll bring my Jazz thoroughbreds to the Hialeah Casino, where everyone’s a winner!”
You can visit hialeahparkcasino.com to learn more about future events, future plans, and even the park’s legendary history.