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The Narragansett racecourse, located about 6 miles from Providence and 46 miles away from Boston was in Rhode Island, the smallest USA State, and was first opened for racing in 1934. To boost finances, and increase flexibility, the horse racing track was modified to allow for motor car racing, with the first meeting held at the Park in September 1896. As soon as Rhode Island relaxed their gambling laws in 1934 there were interested parties keen to build a racetrack. In the end a partnership forged between a textile businessman from Fall River called Walter OHara and a Providence judge called James Dooley spent over 1.2 million dollars to build Narragansett Park which opened on 1st August 1934.The course entertained some of the top racehorses in history, not least Seabiscuit who gained his first ever win at the course in 1935. However, on 11th September 1937 the great horse was asked to shoulder 9st 6 lbs in the Narragansett Special. It came as no surprise that Seabiscuit could only manage third place beaten 4 lengths by Calumet Dick, who carried 17 lbs less than the champion.  The 8 furlong oval dirt track, nicknamed the Pawtucket Oval’, had a 6 furlong chute and 320 metre home straight as well as a grandstand with the capacity to hold 10,000, and a further Clubhouse which could seat 5,500. It also had the additional bonus of being able to stable up to 1,200 horses. Its principal races, apart from the Special, were the Rhode Island Handicap and the Governors Handicap. Racing continued for over 40 years, mostly untroubled by a World War, until the 1970s threatened the very existence of the track due to serious competition from the likes of Suffolk Downs and Rockingham. In the mid-1970s the track workforce began striving for better pay and working conditions, ultimately causing race days to be cancelled in 1971, 1972 and 1975. One way to solve the problem was to merge with Lincoln Downs, although a more drastic solution was to close Narragansett and develop on the site. Just as it seemed that Lincoln Downs would win the battle it closed providing Narragansett with a glimmer of hope. That hope was finally extinguished when the track finally closed its doors for the last time on 3rd September 1978.

Local Patrons Narragansett Race Club
Principal Races Narragansett Special, Rhode Island Handicap, Governors Handicap
Narragansett Park.JPG (20988 bytes)
Course today The racecourse continues to operate very successfully.
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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