The Sunshine State is one of the strangest and most fun in the United States and off-track betting shines bright here. Florida hosts a slew of horse tracks with a rich history both on the track and on the books. With online sports betting in the horizon, OTB Florida can only explode. But right now, both Floridians and tourists still have plenty of options.
We’ll look at the most significant OTB Florida subjects including:
The question isn’t if but when sports betting becomes legal in Florida. It seems incomprehensible that the state still has not legalized sports betting. But talks continue to heat up.
OTB Florida is considered legal. You can find plenty of off-track betting (OTB) parlours around the state. You can also find them within online sportsbooks that welcome players from Florida.
Gambling is legal in Florida. Specifically, gambling is legal within the state’s tribal casinos and pari-mutuel facilities. South Florida has operated several casinos. These are some places for horse racing betting.
These books do not operate within American soil so they are outside the jurisdiction of the state. This also means players who sign up and bet in these books will not be prosecuted or even forbidden.
That’s right. You deposit your cash, you win, and you withdraw your winnings just like you would at any legal casino in the state.
Meanwhile, Florida sports bettors continue to hold their breath collectively as their government continues to negotiate with the Seminole Tribe in the South, the pari-mutuel facilities, and the Senate to come up with something that can make everyone happy.
Just keep holding on as OTB Florida should be legal sooner than later.
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Florida is where “winter” season horse racing is at its peak. Gulfstream Park hosts a series of events taking place in January and February beginning with the Sunshine Millions.
The Sunshine Millions features six races for a combined purse of $1.3 million. The revamped version is held exclusively for Florida-bred horses. The Sunshine Millions Classic is its main race with a purse of up to $250,000.
Also in January is the Pegasus World Cup Championship Invitational Series. It is renowned as once being the richest horse race outside of the Dubai World Cup. A turf version, the Pegasus World Cup Turf takes place shortly about a week after in early February.
In the same month is the Florida Derby, the Park’s oldest active grade-I stakes race also with a prize money of $1 million. These are the kind of stakes that make OTB Florida legendary.
Heading into March, the spotlight moves to the Tampa Bay Downs, home of Festival Day. This features the Tampa Bay Derby, one of the most prestigious grade-II stakes races. Also on this day is grade-II stakes race Hillsborough Stakes and grade-III stakes races Florida Oaks, Challenger Stakes, and the Columbia Stakes. All-in-all, there is $1 million in stakes purses.
Outside of these feature stakes races, you can also find more horse races in Hialeah Park Race Track during the same winter seasons.
Florida is where some of the richest off-track betting and horse racing lives. The Pegasus Park in Gulfstream Park is a shiny symbol, a 110-feet bronze statue, of how horse racing goes down here. Gulfstream Park is the horse racing mecca of the south.
It holds a trifecta of million-dollar horse racing events: the Sunshine Millions, Florida Derby, and Pegasus World Cup. All these events are grade-I. This is what makes OTB Florida so exciting.
But that’s not all. The park is also home to a plethora of grade-II and grade-III races. The Fountain of Youth Stakes is one of the richest grade-II stakes with a purse of $400,000. Grade-III races include classics like the Mr. Prospector Stakes (1946) and new races like the Kitten’s Joy Stakes (2012).
Tampa Bay Downs is Central West Florida’s top horse racing track. It features the Festival Day in early March, which showcases the Tampa Bay Derby, one of the richest grade-II stakes races.
Hialeah Park Race Track is one of Florida’s oldest horse racing tracks though it first ran greyhound racing. It first opened in 1922 but closed in 2001. Before its closure, it hosted a slew of prominent stakes races like the Flamingo Stakes and Widener Handicap. It reopened in 2013 brandishing a new casino and quarter horse racing meets.
Gulfstream Racing & Casino or Gulfstream Park is the top horse racing destination for Hallandale Beach. The track originally opened in 1939 to a crowd of 18,000 in its four-day meet. It reopened in 1944 for a 20-day meeting.
The park’s main events include the Florida Derby, the Pegasus World Cup, and the Sunshine Millions. All of these are world-renowned events and bring a lot of spectators from around the globe to Hallandale.
Gulfstream Park is a bit like a theme park and has been the venue for concerts such as the Miami Pop Festival.
The track’s dirt course runs for 1 1/8 mile (nine furlongs) while the turf track is one mile (eight furlongs). Depending on the race, the portable rails can be moved to the inside or outside of the turf course.
Pegasus Park holds the iconic bronze statue of Pegasus killing a dragon. It is also the second largest statue in the United States next to the Statue of Liberty.
The Florida Derby has seen at least 20 of its winners go on to win at least one of the Triple Crown Classics. This includes Nashua and Big Brown, who both won a pair of Triple Crown races.
The Pegasus World Cup, inaugurated in 2017, initially had a whopping $12 million purse and surpassed even the Dubai World Cup, the richest horse race for 2017 and 2018.
The Sunshine Million is a series of thoroughbred horse races with a combined purse of $1.3 million.
The Tampa Bay Downs has seen its fair share of name changes and Hall of Famers through its years. It opened in 1926 and was also called the “Tampa Downs”, “Sunshine Park”, and “Florida Downs and Turf Club.”
This racetrack specializes in thoroughbred horse racing on a one-mile (eight furlongs). Its season usually begins from the end of November to the beginning of May with races on most Wednesdays, Fridays, and weekends.
The Tampa Bay Downs hosts Festival Day every early spring, usually in early March. This features grade-II stakes races Tampa Bay Derby and Hillsborough Stakes as well as grade-III stakes races Florida Oaks, Challenger Stakes, and the Columbia Stakes. The total is $1 million in purses.
Several Hall of Fame trainers have used the Tampa Bay Downs as a stage to “warm up” their champion horses. In 2007, Carl Nafzger and Street Sense won the Tampa Bay Derby and used its momentum to win the Kentucky Derby.
In 2011, William Mott, another Hall of Fame trainer, used Tampa Bay Downs for Royal Delta and Drosselmeyer. They twice won the Breeders’ Cup Distaff and Drosselmeyer won the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Beginning in the 201-11 season, the average daily wagering handles for its season hit record levels. OTB Florida owes a lot to Tampa Bay Downs.
The historic Hialeah Park Race Track first opened in 1922 but closed in 2001 before reopening in 2013. It used to host plenty of stakes races including the Flamingo Stakes, Widener Handicap, and Bahamas Stakes.
Hialeah is considered one of the oldest existing recreational facilities in Southern Florida. It first opened as a greyhound racing track. It became known as the Miami Jockey Club when they launched thoroughbred horse racing in the park in 1925.
The Flamingo Stakes was a stakes race that ran until 2001. It had seen a couple of iconic horses win including Nahshua, who won two Triple Crown classic races and Canadian legend, Northern Dancer, who won the Kentucky Derby.
The Widener Gap was a grade-III stakes race that saw its peak in the 1940’s. Even TIME magazine once wrote: “nearly every glamor horse in the United States was entered in Florida’s Widener Handicap.” Calumet Farm initially dominated this track seeing three of their horses win back-to-back races in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.
The Bahamas Stakes was primarily a prominent “stepping stone” track for prospective Triple Crown contenders. However, Hialeah had to reschedule the race and it rarely became contested among Triple Crown hopefuls until it closed in 2001.
With its reopening in 2013, Hialeah still has to recapture its former status as a top-tier racing track. But now it has a new casino and continues to host winter Quarter horse racing meets.
OTB Florida Locations
201 Monument Road
Jacksonville, FL 32225
Phone: (904) 646-0001
Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track
10601 Bonita Beach Road
Bonita Springs, FL 34135-2567
Phone: (239) 992-2411
Dania Jai Alai
301 E Dania Beach Boulevard
Dania, FL 33004-3016
Phone: (954) 927-2841
Daytona Kennel Club
2201 W. International Speedway Boulevard
Daytona Beach, FL 32114
Phone: (386) 252 6484
Ebro Kennel Club
6558 Dog Track Road
Ebro, FL 32437
Phone: (904) 234-3943
Orlando Jai Alai
6405 S US Highway 17/92
Fern Park, FL 32730
Phone: (407) 831-2044
Ft. Pierce Jai Alai
1750 South Kings Highway
Fort Pierce, FL 34945
Phone: (772) 464-7500
Hollywood Greyhound Track
831 North Federal Highway
Hallandale Beach, FL 33009
Phone: (954) 924-3200
Hamilton Jai Alai
6968 US Highway 129 South
Jasper, FL 32052
Phone: (800) 941-4841
Casino Miami Jai Alai
3500 Northwest 37th Avenue
Miami, FL 33142
Phone: (305) 633-6400
Calder Race Course
21001 N.W. 27th Avenue
Miami, FL 33056
Phone: (954) 523-4324
Flagler Greyhound Track & Magic City Casino
NW 37th Avenue at 7th Street
Miami, FL 33126
Phone: (305) 649-3000
Bestbet at Orange Park
455 Park Avenue
Orange Park, FL 32073
Phone: (904) 646-0001
Sanford Orlando Kennel Club
301 Dog Track Road
Longwood, FL 32750
Phone: (407) 831-1600
Melbourne Greyhound Park & Club 52 Poker Room
1100 North Wickham Road
Melbourne, FL 32935
Phone: (321) 259-9800
Pensacola Greyhound Track & Poker Room
951 Dog Track Road
Pensacola, FL 32506
Phone: (850) 455-8595
Pompano Park Isle Casino
1800 SW at 3rd Street
Pompano Beach, FL 33069
Phone: (954) 972-2000
Ocala Jai Alai
4601 NW County Road 318
Reddick, FL 32686
Phone: (352) 591-2345
Derby Lane Racing & Poker
10490 Gandy Boulevard
St. Petersburg, FL 33702
Phone: (727) 812-3339
Sarasota Kennel Club & One Eyed Jacks Poker Room
5400 Bradenton Road
Sarasota, FL 34234
Phone: (941) 355-7744
Tampa Greyhound Track & Lucky’s Card Room
8300 N Nebraska Avenue
Tampa, FL 33604
Phone: (813) 932-4313
Tampa Bay Downs
1225 Racetrack Road
Tampa, FL 33626
Phone: (813) 855-4401
Palm Beach Kennel Club
1111 N Congress Avenue
West Palm Beach, FL 33409