Veliefendi Race Course
|Location||Veliefendi, Bakırköy, Istanbul, Turkey|
|Owned by||Jockey Club of Turkey (TJK)|
|Screened on||TJK TV|
It is the country's oldest and biggest race course founded on a former grassland that was historically a farm belonging to Şeyhülislam Veliyüddin Efendi, an 18th-century superior authority of Islam in the Ottoman Empire. The race course was constructed in the years 1912/13 by German specialists upon the initiative of Enver Pasha.
The race course covers an area of 59.6 ha (147 acres) consisting of facilities for racing, training and barns. The race course has three interleaved tracks as:
- a 2,020 m (2,210 yd) long and 27–36 m (89–118 ft) wide turf oval,
- a 1,870 m (2,050 yd) long and 17.5–19 m (57–62 ft) wide synthetic track for all-weather racing and
- a 1,730 m (1,890 yd) long and 16–17 m (52–56 ft) wide sand oval for training.
The track's seating capacity is 7,600. The complex comprises offices, a museum, an exhibition hall, a racehorse hospital, an apprentice training center as well as social and recreational facilities.
- Gazi Race (Gazi Koşusu), is the most prestigious Turkish Oaks, and is held since 1927 in memory of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who was awarded the honorific title "Gazi" (Ghazi). Initially run in Ankara, the event was later transferred to Veliefendi Race Course. The award is about TL 1.4 million (approx. US$850,000 as of June 2011), and since 1970 is accompanied with a silver equestrian statue of Atatürk.
- Prime Minister's Race (Başbaşkanlık Koşusu) is a Turkish Oaks held since 1951. The winner is awarded TL 300,000 (approx. US$180,000 as of July 2011) and a trophy bestowed by the Turkish prime minister.
During a race on July 31, 1949, four race horses, including two favourite horses, did not leave the starting gate upon the referee's start sign, and were disqualified. The bettors protested about a possible swindle by the referees and the racehorse owners, and demanded a rerun. As the referee commission rejected the demand, the crowd set the referee tower, the bleachers, the administration and box offices on fire.
In July 1953, bettors throw horsemen with stones and beat a jockey named Muhacir Ahmet (literally: Ahmet The Immigrant) they believed he had swindled. Two years later local newspapers published about swindles at Veliefendi Race Course, and during a race on July 13, 1955, the bettors stoned the administration building, and Muhacir Ahmet was beaten once again.
- "TJK TV Live". Archived from the original on 2011-12-15. Retrieved 2011-12-14.
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- "Champion Horse Ribella Bids Farewell". Turkish Daily News. Oct 30, 2008.