Over the years, I have received dozens of messages from readers about the Trotting Park. I have published some of them here. Content has not been edited in any way. Join us as we dig into the mailbag to read some fan mail. Want to share your story with us? Jump over to the Contact form!
Jun. 17, 2018
My sister found your site and passed it on to us. Our dad, A. Carlton Gilbert (Collie), was the general contractor. His specialty was concrete...go figure. When it opened I must have been 9 years old. I remember driving FOREVER across the Valley (from 48th St & Thomas area) to get to the track as Mr. Dunnigan had invited our family to come out and see it. There were 9 of us! He had the chef make us hamburgers from some very fine cut of beef that tasted awful as a burger. I remember my parents being so embarrassed that we didn't eat our specially made burgers. And, the escalator was one of the longest, if not THE longest, one in the country at the time. The construction of this place must have been one of my dad's greatest challenges and accomplishments. My siblings and I all have fond memories of it and have watched its demise over the years. Our dad passed away in 1971 and it was a legacy of his. Thanks for preserving its history.
- Monica L.
Jun. 21, 2017
My name is Arthur S. and I was employed by Delaware North Companies to re-activate the Trotting Park in 1982. We started out by opening a Park n Swap under the grandstands and later renamed the facility the Arizona Equestrian Center. We hosted the Mercedes Benz World Cup Tour in 1984 - 1986. The Park was used for many other special events including the Fourth of July Family Fun Day where we had Arizona's largest fireworks display that year. This event benefited the Statue of Liberty Restoration Fund and we raised over $10,000 that year.
- Arthur S.
Jun. 20, 2017
Lived at the track for two years in early 90's. Had a rv in the old trailor park by the jockey quarters. Been over every inch of that place.
- Charles S.
May 18, 2017
I am sad to see that building go after reading the West Valley Vew. In the mid 1990's I attended Agua Fria High School. We had our Ag classes out there for a year or two in one of the building. We also keep animals out there and had put up a green house. We also had built a in ground BBQ pit. Many times some of us students would make our way over to the ground stand and just walk around in there. Thanks for having the site to share.
- Charles S.
May 18, 2017
I don't know if you know this but the site was used for as a horse show facility (hunters and jumpers) for several seasons about 1985. My mother was the founder and general manager of the shows. They were very high end shows bring competitors from all over the world.
- Ken D.
Oct. 23, 2016
I live really close to the Trotting Park, in fact i pass it every day when i go to school (my HS is only about 2-3 miles away). Ever since i was young, I always loved the Trotting Park as it looked so special and different from anything else around it. i have visited and went inside many times (even spent a couple nights there when my situation was bad). At any rate, I love the Phoenix Trotting Park and i wanted to thank you for making such a well put together website to inform me on the interesting history of the park. I genuinely hope that whoever buys the Trotting Park doesn't demolish it, but instead restores it to its former glory, or maybe make it safe enough to give guided tours of the grandstands. -Cheers!
Sept. 7, 2016
I used to subscribe to The Horseman and Fair World magazine back in the 70"s. Each week there would be an article by a local reporter about every harness track in operation, with a report on the feature race each week(usually with picture). I believe this magazine is still in existence, however I don't know if it existed in the 60's. If it did, and you could get ahold of archived issues there may be a lot to learn about what happened on a day to day basis when the track was in operation, like who the leading drivers, trainers, owners were, attendance and handle etc.
- Bill M.
Sept. 2, 2016
Hello. Just a note to again say thanks for all of your work and research. This is a great piece of history. Just thought I would share this current bit of information. Uncle Jimmy will be buried today in Scottsdale. Thanks.
- Joe Dunnigan
Aug. 29, 2016
Thanks so much for this page with all the wonderful history and photos! My father was a cement mason, and helped to build the trotting park in the mid 1960s. I remember him talking about how far of a drive it was to get to work at the Trotting Park. I was about 10 at the time. We lived in Glendale, so it seemed a long way from home.
I've always had fond memories of the Park all these years since it reminds me of him. Also, it is just such a wonderful architectural structure. It was truly ahead of it's time. It seems to have almost a magical sense of existence, even in it's disrepair.
I suspect it will be demolished, which will be an end to a wonderful Phoenix landmark. I realize however, that even trying to preserve it would cost millions (if not more) of dollars.
But thanks to you, we have this wonderful page to remember it by. Thanks again!
Aug. 26, 2016
As a huge harness racing fan this website was a very good read. This facility was clearly built to one day be competitive with the late belmoral, meadowlands and Canada's woodbine racetrack! It's a shame it never lasted because judging by the pictures of how it used to look it would have taken very little renovations to keep it up to par. However the shear size of the grandstand would have out grown harness ravings sad attendance numbers across North America... One thing I noticed was it was tough to find what size of track it was I think it was only in the FAQs where you said it was mike track. Judging from the picture where the horses are lining up behind the starting gate in turn one I would say that the track was no doubt a 5/8 mile track. That's the only sized track where the car starts in front of the stands and the race starts in the backstretch. Unless of course the horses ran different distances than a mile which almost never happens, back then or even today. One last thing the only reason I found this site was because I'd come across an article on a horse racing site saying that the land had been sold. Here's a link to that article of your interested in up dating the information on your site. Looks to me it won't be standing for a whole lot longer. http://standardbredcanada.ca/news/8-25-16/deal-pending-phoenix-trotting-park.html
- Eddie H.
Aug. 26, 2016
Thanks for putting up the web site. By far the most complete collection of information about the Phoenix Trotting Park I have seen. My father worked there and I have memories of going with him to work and to the races when I was quite young. He is actually in one of the pictures on the photo gallery page. He's the horse shoer. I grew up in the area and watched the slow decay over the years. Thanks for all the work you did. It Means a lot!
- John F.
Aug. 25, 2016
Beautiful,loving website! I hope they do preserve this place ,it looks far ahead of it's time. Just a harness racing fan.
- Luis W.
Aug. 23, 2016
Great site! I lost track of the number of times I drove past this monstrosity over the years, great to read/see some of the background, especially the pictures from the glory years. Well done!
Aug. 23, 2016
I was there for a race in 1966, great location. I knew people in the racing industry and was told that the reason for the track being so far from town (which it was then) was because the land was given to the promoter, not bought and paid for. Also, nobody in Phoenix cared at all about trotters. Nice site you've built. I hope they don't tear it down.
- Ray L.
Aug. 23, 2016
There is such a gaping hole in the chronology of the track. Back in the 1980s, the second largest hunter jumper circuit was held there, complete with World Cup qualifiers and international competitors. It was quite successful, only outdone by the circuit that continues to this day in Wellington, FL.
- Betsy B.
Aug. 11, 2016
Hello, I just wanted to express my appreciate for all of the hard work and research that you have put into this website. I can't believe that I didn't know that this existed - I just found out by reading what I felt was a quite nicely researched article in the West Valley View (linked on FB). You very well may have already spoken with my brother, Joe, who is more of a family historian that I am, and knows a bit more about the track. My father, Edward, was the leading driver at the track during it's brief time of opening. He is still alive and training horses in New York. I thought that I would throw that out there in case you ever wanted to speak with him. I'm sure that he'd be delighted to share his memories if you are ever interested.
- Mary (Dunnigan) Crow
Aug. 10, 2016
Just in fyi you have a picture listed as Hollywood Park, but you can see mountains in the background, which Hollywood Park was not near. I'm pretty sure that is Santa Anita in California. They ran harness racing there at one point. I like this site, since I live close to the trotting track in Goodyear. Thanks
- Rob N.
Editor's Note: The correction has been made to the photo caption.
Aug. 6, 2016
Out of curiosity, has this site ever been considered for the Arizona State Fair? It seems like an ideal location and size. And it would certainly do the West Valley some good.
May 16, 2016
Did the Phx Trotting Park have it's own Police Dept.? The reason I ask is because an acquaintance found a badge in the area around the property. It was a 7 point gold star (like Az DPS), & it says: "Phoenix Trotting Park Police" with the "Great Seal of the State of Arizona 1912" in the center. Could you please shed some light on the subject? Thank You!
P.S. I can provide an image of the badge, if needed. Please let me know. Thanks Again!!
- Andrew B.
Editor's Note: I have been unable to find any information about police or security in my research.
May 16, 2016
Who was the security force? I have a badge listing the Phoenix Trotting Park Police. Was this a private security or county, city run police force?
- Lisa C.
May 11, 2016
Hi what happened to tbe seats that were in your photos in the grandstands? Also when was it gutted as in your photos? Thank you ;)
- Nan S.
Editor's Note: I do not know what happened to the seats that were in the grandstands. The park was gutted in 1969 by the Delaware North corporation, which owned many other horse racing tracks back in the Eastern United States.
May 4, 2016
Hello, my question is how tall the stadium stands at. I've been there before but from a far distance because of the gates.
Editor's Note: The Trotting Park is 86 feet high, 195 feet wide, and 500 feet long.
Apr. 19, 2016
Hello, I would like to visit this place. Is it open to the public? If so, What would be the least congested time to visit? Thanks.
Editor's Note: Unfortunately, I do not own the facility nor do I have any relationship with the people who do. The park is not open to the public, it has been closed for over 40 years and is on private land. Visitors are not allowed.
Mar. 5, 2016
You have a great website. I'm in love with the building. I don't see it often as I'm from Minnesota so it's fun to have an online resource! Thanks for putting this together!
- Stephanie J.
Jan. 20, 2016
I was wondering if you could give me some more information on the track and ground. My grandparents new ed Dunnigan. He would come to vernon, NY to race at vernon downs. Is there any kind of books available so I could read more into it. Thank you
- Kristy B.
Jan. 6, 2016
As a pseudo native of the valley since 1967 (as a 7yr child), my question is this: in the late '80's ~'90's there was talk of the AZ State Fair or Maricopa County Fair to use the Trotter's Track as it's / their venue sites. Did this ever happen for either of this events in our state? As an older teenager/young adult age (1977-85), myself and friends often enjoyed driving out to explore our west valley. No cities actually touched each other, no I-10; only vast desert, farm fields, and mountains to the south and west. I do remember actually being on the property but not passed the fence surrounding the actual building. The "entire" property was not chain linked fenced all around. Some of the grandstand still had plates of glass across the front. I enjoyed the history info on our website, strong work.
Jan. 5, 2016
Hello, my name is Pablo was unaware of this place into a few hours ago. Some friends decided to trespass and we're curious about the place at night. Like all young adults were foolish. Not to lie to you, they heard wispers as they went up the building telling them to "Don't go" , and deep breathing coming from fit her along. As they reach the pathway to go to the third leven, my friends stopped and debated about going foward. At that moment one of my friends started running and didn't stop until the outside. My friends tell me that his face was pale and scared. He couldn't move and just wanted to leave. As they left the place, the saw a bright red light on the 3 floor. Something they did not see when they got there. These friends of mine are probably the bravest guys I know and they will never go back. There is something there. Not a person or an animal. Something more.
- Pablo B.
Sept. 4, 2015
Hello!! Thanks for the informative site. I am just curious- has anyone ever got a cost estimate of what it would take to get this up and running again. Maybe not as a track but as an entertainment venue. A place for camping, musical events, weddings, etc. I know in 2012 someone inquired on the property but was turned off by the cost to renovate. Thanks for any information you can provide.
- Doug S.
Jul. 31, 2015
Hello. First off, thank you so much for having a dedicated website to such a beautiful structure. I live fairly close by and love going past it on the freeway. Do you have any photos of the track while it was operating? If not, do you know who might? I'm certain you know that most pictures are of the condition of the building today, which is a bit frustrating to me. Any help would greatly be appreciated. Thank you.
- Zach R.