Oriental Park Racetrack

Oriental Park Racetrack in Marianao, Havana, Cuba, was a thoroughbred horse-racing facility operated during the winter by the Havana-American Jockey Club of Cuba. Founded in 1915, Oriental Park was the only race track in Cuba in the days before Fidel Castro came to power in 1959.

Oriental Park Racetrack


In its heyday, American owners brought their horses to race at Oriental Park Racetrack during the winter, and future Hall of Fame jockey Laverne Fator rode there in 1918, as did Alfred Robertson in the mid-1920s and Cuban-born Avelino Gomez. With American racetracks closed, jockey Joe Culmone, contract rider for Brookmeade Stable, won three races at Oriental Park on December 31, 1950, tying Bill Shoemaker for most wins that year by an American jockey. Shoemaker won on the same day at Agua Caliente Racetrack in Tijuana, Mexico. Is also famous for hosting the boxing match between Jack Johnson and Jess Willard 05/04/1915.

Many American celebrities on vacation or who were performing at the nearby Tropicana Club visited fashionable Oriental Park Racetrack, as did Europeans such as tennis star Suzanne Lenglen. Prominent hotelier John McEntee Bowman, owner of Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York and president of Bowman-Biltmore Hotels Corp., which counted the Seville-Biltmore Hotel in Havana as part of its hotel properties, served as president of the Havana-American Jockey Club, as did Harry D. ("Curly") Brown, owner of Arlington Park in Chicago.

In his book Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life, author Robert Lacey wrote that in 1937, gangster Meyer Lansky gained control of the racetrack and casino.

At Calder Race Course in Miami Gardens, Florida, is a wall in its Hall of Fame dedicated to the famous Cuban horsemen who raced at Oriental Park.

Oriental Park also hosted automobile races in 1920.[1]


  • photos and data about the Oriental Park during the 50s. Mostly in Spanish
  • March 4, 1929 TIME magazine article on John McEntee Bowman
  • Lacey, Robert Little Man: Meyer Lansky and the Gangster Life (1993) Random House ISBN 978-0-517-10536-8
  1. ^ Automobile races.
  • Syracuse Herald, 19 September 1920, pg 42

Coordinates: 23°04′24″N 82°25′11″W / 23.073386°N 82.419766°W / 23.073386; -82.419766