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The Illinois racecourse of Aurora Downs first opened for racing and harness racing on 21st March 1891 and was operational right up to the early 1980s. The original track was just 4 furlongs in length and named Aurora Driving Park and was close to Lake Street. In 1922 a new track was built with a racing circumference of a mile. It was built on the newly developed Exposition Park. The principal race at the track was the Illinois Derby, a 3 year old race run over 9 furlongs and first contested in 1923 when won by In Memorian, but switched to this track in 1932 when the race was won by Sweeprush. The race continued to be hosted by the track for the next 5 years, with winners including Mata Hari in 1934, Sun Portland in 1935, Rushaway in 1936, Case Ace in 1937 and Governor Chandler in 1939. Racing at the track reached a peak in 1937 when a local newspaper reported an attendance in excess of 30,000. The track closed during the hostilities of World War II but reopened again in 1946. However, in 1952 the track closed and racing, particularly harness racing, was moved to nearby Maywood Park. In 1955 the track suffered fire damage on 2 separate occasions, although racing was not taking place at the time. Nevertheless, racing did resume in 1958 after the track was renovated, although they no longer attracted vast crowds and began to find the climate economically challenging. The track closed and reopened on a number of occasions over the next 18 years before the last races as Aurora Downs were staged in 1976. However, the track was renamed Fox Fields, with racing did take place on selected Sundays, but they were low profile meetings, and the track closed for good on 21st July 1981, with the grandstands later demolished.

Local Patrons Aurora Downs Race Club
Principal Races Illinois Derby
Course today The racecourse closed on 21st July 1981
If you have photos, postcards, racecards. badges, newspaper cuttings or book references about the old course, or can provide a photo of how the ground on which the old racecourse stood looks today, then email

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

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