Westchester 1924.JPG (12120 bytes) JEROME PARK RACECOURSE  

Jerome Park Racetrack was built on the old Bathgate Estate and opened in 1866 in the northwest part of Fordham in Winchester County which now forms part of the New York Bronx. Racing was administered by the American Jockey Club, led by the financiers August Belmont and Leonard W. Jerome. A luxurious clubhouse was built near a rise that looked over the race course on what was known as "The Bluff".

I am grateful to Paul Rich who notes that, in those early days, many would come to the racing park by horse, coach and carriage, or by railroad at Fordham Station, located at the bottom of Fordham Hill and Rose Hill in what was Old Fordham village. The Belmont Stake, the oldest of the 3 US Triple Crown events, was named in honor of August Belmont Senior was contested at Jerome Park and continued to be run there until 1890 when it was moved to nearby Morris Park Racecourse. Jerome Park Racetrack was also the home to the Champagne Stakes from its inaugural running in 1867 through 1889 and the Ladies Handicap, created in 1868 and which today is run at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queen’s and is the oldest stakes race in the United States exclusively for fillies and mares.

By the spring of 1876 the Westchester Polo Club was founded at Jerome Park Racetrack. On May 13th 1876, the track was the site of the first outdoor polo match ever held in the United States.
One famous event that was thought to have taken place at the racetrack was that Lord Randolph Churchill first met Leonard W Jerome's daughter, Jennie, at the races and later courted and married her.
The track closed on October 4, 1894 to make way for the Jerome Park Reservoir that was needed for the metropolitan New York City water supply system.

By 1890 Morris Park Racecourse was hosting such prestigious races as the Belmont Stakes and the Preakness Stakes. The owner of Morris Park was the businessman John Morris and just before he died in May 1895 he leased the course to the Westchester Racing Association.
The final horserace meeting at Morris Park took place in 1902 when crowd sizes had slipped to a financially unsound level. Motor racing continued at the track until 1910.
If you have badges, racecards, pictures of the racecourse or further details about the course, including your memories, then email johnslusar@fsmail.net