The History of Horse Racing in Hawaii
In the late 1800's and early 1900's horse racing
was a favorite sport of Hawaiian royalty, rich landowners,
and plantation workers. At one time there were horse racing
tracks on several of the islands but the sport died
out in Hawaii by the 1950's. There have been several movements
to bring horse racing back to Hawaii but there is strong local
resistance to bringing any form of legalized gambling to the
islands. The only place horse racing can be seen in Hawaii
today is at some of the local rodeos, including the 4th of
July Rodeo at Parker Ranch on the Big Island.
Horse Racing Track in Oahu's Kapiolani Park
Breeding Race Horses on the Big Island
Horse racing began in Hawaii when the
Parker Ranch on the Big island imported a line of top racing horses
from the United Kingdom and the U.S. Mainland for the
purpose of developing and raising thoroughbred horses in Hawaii.
As a result of this, some of the horses racing in Hawaii
were descendants of the great racing horses of the past.
The Hawaiian Jockey Club (1872)
The Hawaiian Jockey Club was founded by
King Kalakaua in 1872 to organize and regulate
the sport of horse racing in Hawaii. Among the
prominent members of the club were
King Kalakaua, Governor Dominis, Samuel Park,
Major Cornwell, and A.S. Cleghorn.
Koko O Na Moku Horse Racing Track (closed in 1918)
In the late 1800's and early 1900's there was a horse racing
track on Maui's Kaanapali Beach that stretched from the present
day Kaanapali Beach Hotel to the present day Westin Maui
Resort. The last official race was held there on July 4, 1918.
That race track is pictured below.
Horse Racing Track on Maui's Kaanapali Beach
Kapiolani Park Racetrack (1883-1914)
The one mile, oval horse racing track pictured at the
top of this page opened in Oahu's
Kapiolani Park in 1883.
It had a grand stand and a clubhouse and for many
years it was the focal point of social activity
in Waikiki. One of the most important events at the race track
was the annual "Rosita Cup" which was held
each year on King Kamehameha Day.
The Kapiolani Park Race Track was demolished in 1914.
The Oahu Jockey Club (1939)
The Oahu Jockey Club was incorporated
in 1939, the same year the Kailua Horse
Racing Track was built.
Kailua Race Track (1939 through late 1940's)
The Kailua Race Track was a five-furlong horse racing track
built in the windward Oahu town of Kailua in 1939 and it was
in use throughout the 1930's and 1940's. The racetrack
was popular with military personnel stationed in Hawaii during
World War II and to encourage them to come more often,
the Oahu Jockey Club lowered the normally $2.00
entrance charge to $1.00 for the military. The Kailua Race Track
was nicknamed the "Pineapple Derby" by Yank Magazine.
The track was located between Oneawa Avenue and Kainalu Avenue, near
the site of the present day Kainalu Elementary School.
The school was the site of horse stables that were adjacent
to the track. Japanese farmers use to grow watermelons in
the center of the track. The Oahu
Jockey Club had hoped to eventually replace the Kailua Race Track
with a mile long track with covered bleachers and a clubhouse,
but that never happened.
Attempt to Return Horse Racing to Kapiolani Park (1949)
There was an unsuccessful attempt to revive horse racing
in Kapiolani Park in 1949.
Attempt to Return Horse Racing to Maui (1959)
In 1959 a bill was proposed to allow horse racing
on the island of Maui but it failed to pass in the
House of Representatives.
Recent Proposals to Allow Horse Racing in Hawaii
Salomon-Tanaka Horse Racing Bill
Pari-Mutuel Horse Racing in Hawaii
5-Year Parimutuel Horse Racing
Equestrian Sports in Hawaii
Other Sports in Hawaii
More About the History of Hawaii
If you have any comments about this article or if you would like to
contribute photos or more information about horse racing in Hawaii,
send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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