PHOENIX — A north Phoenix horse race track is ready to open the gates for its 60th season in business.
Turf Paradise, near 19th Avenue and Bell Road, will begin the new season 11 a.m. Saturday. General Manager Vincent Francia said the track has come a long way since it opened in 1956.
“If you tried to come to the race course from downtown Phoenix, you got as far as Cactus [Road] and the paved road ended and you had to take dirt roads,” he said.
Francia said Turf Paradise is the third-leading sports attraction in the state by attendance, trailing only the Arizona Diamondbacks and Cactus League. He said the race track has always been an important part of the Valley sports scene.
“It’s still a very viable part of the sports community,” Francia said. “After all, Turf Paradise was the first of the sports franchises [in Phoenix] back in 1956.”
Fans will be treated to nine races featuring 90 horses on Opening Day. There will also be live music, a kids fun park and a barbecue tent. General admission is $2 and parking is free. The first 5,000 fans in attendance Saturday will receive a free t-shirt.
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