Widely regarded as one of North America's most picturesque race tracks.
Home of the Prince of Wales Stakes
Fort Erie Race Track is home to the Second Jewel in the Canadian Triple Crown. Every Summer crowds converge on the Border Oval to take in the excitement of live thoroughbred racing, but the crowds really swell when the majesty of Canada's premier horses take to the stage and compete for one of racing's most sought after prizes. This year, the Prince of Wales Stakes will be run on Tuesday, July 30th.
Fort Erie is filled with racing traditions. Great Canadian champions have raced at the "Fort", providing race enthusiasts with thrills and life long memories. From its beginnings in 1897, Fort Erie Race Track has always been a special place. Its beauty has been well documented with aesthetics second to none.
On November 21, 1896, the Fort Erie Jockey Club set the wheels in motion for thoroughbred racing at the border oval, with President John Hood breaking ground.
This is one of the actual invitations sent out in 1896, asking selected guests to attend the Ground Breaking Ceremonies for the construction of the Fort Erie Race Track. Wednesday, June 16, 1897. A beautiful day for racing, as Fort Erie Race Track runs its inaugural races. The dream had become a reality. The first race at the "Fort" was won by Ellesmere, guided home by a jockey named Sullivan. The placing judge ruled that Wordsworth grabbed second, with Miss Lillian in third. The winner of that initial race received $300 while second and third were awarded $75 and $25 respective. E.P. Taylor played a major role in the development of the Fort Erie Race Track. He developed the Canadian Triple Crown of Racing in 1959, with the second leg of the series, the Prince of Wales Stakes, being the Fort's featured race each season. Canadian thoroughbred racing is now recognized internationally, thanks in large part to the efforts of this one man.
Fort Erie Race Track's centrepiece is its beautiful infield, filled with flowers and scenic lakes. In 1961, a horse named Puss n Boots couldn't resist the plush surroundings and decided to take a detour and a refreshing dip while leading a race at the top of the stretch.
Jockey Ronnie Behrens was sent flying as Puss n Boots veered inward and made his way to the infield. It sounds like a tall tale, but 14,106 fans were on hand that afternoon to testify that Puss n Boots did indeed take that fabled plunge into Fort Erie Racing lore.
In honour of his impromptu swim, Fort Erie Race Track holds the Puss n Boots Stakes on the turf every summer. In 1996, the tradition continued with an eccentric twist. Prior to the event, owner Robert Elkins boasted that he'd follow Puss n Boots' lead and would jump into the infield lake if his horse, Dancing for Beans, won the race. Rider Francine Villeneuve must have been inspired by Elkins' dare, as she brought Dancing for Beans from last to first, sending Elkins for a swim.