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Northlands Park - Memories Worth Keeping
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Thoroughbred Racing

Thoroughbred racingWhile the sport of horseracing has existed in one form or another for over a thousand years, registration based on lineage is a relatively new development. Since the 18th century, this reliance on pedigree has become so pervasive and important to the sport that every registered thoroughbred alive today has descended from a single group of three champions: The Byerly Turk, The Godolphin Arabian, and The Darley Arabian.

Thoroughbred racersThe first races in Edmonton were hardly so formal, though. These were run in 1882 on a beaten track that, were it still around, would be sitting in the downtown core. In 1900, the track was moved from its home in the storied Rossdale Flats to its present site, where races are still held today.

Number Eight racingAs the process of selecting competitors became more formalized, with the race coalescing into a two-day fair attraction in 1905, preparations were made for the construction of a more permanent kind of track. This first came into being in 1907.

Fairgoers and sports buffs were treated to the sight of light jockeys racing horses on a track where records were habitually made and broken—all for the admiration of a cheering crowd.

Northlands’ predecessor, the Edmonton Exhibition Association, took managerial control of the track’s racing activities in 1957. By that time, the process of formalization was complete, and the oval was in good shape to host the Canadian Derby.

Racing at the old grandstandThis arrangement, undertaken that year, was meant to be temporary. 17 years later, when the track was refurbished and extended one kilometre, the annual Derby was still there.

Thoroughbred racing—all racing at Northlands, in fact—reached the zenith of its popularity in 1982. While the sport was still popular enough, the drop in income threatened its continued existence.

Northlands adapted to this challenge through millions of dollars in improvements to the old grandstand, and the addition of new games designed to add another dimension to the racing experience. A sport-hungry public responded with renewed interest in all kinds of horseracing.

Today, thoroughbred races are still held on Northlands’ well-maintained dirt track; spectators have their choice of indoor or outdoor seating, and a variety of culinary options.

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Northlands Race Regulation Bodies

Canadian Derby Sweepstake

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