The Hipodromo de San Isidro is owned by the Argentinian Jockey Club and was opened on December 8th, 1935. Without doubt one of the largest and most important tracks in America, its 148 acres are located 22 kms north of Buenos Aires in the San Isidro district.
The grass track is 2,783 metres long by 45 wide and has a five furlong striaght course. There is also a diagonal course where the first turn is reached after 7 furlongs. The long back straight allows 2,400m races to be staged over one turn only.
The dirt track was opened on October 1st, 1994, and depending on the layout can be 2,590m round or 2,200m. This track is 31 metres wide, allowing 24 runners to be accomodated across the track. The surface is made up of "cava" sand, an flexible and elastic component that stands up well to the demands of racing.
San Isidro's buildings occupy 32,000m2, of which 5,000 are taken up by the Members' Stand, 2,000 the Trainers & Jockeys Stand, 7,000 for the Paddock Stand and a further 18,000 for the three main Grandstands. The six stands have a 100,000 capacity and the 1952 Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini saw a record turn-out of 102,600 turf fans.
After some troubled times, the track re-opened on December 8th, 1979, back under Jockey Club control and refurbished with a new electronic tote that had 597 "Buy/Sell" windows.
The modernisation also included a modern floodlighting system with 69 columns around the outside of the track, lights on the roofs of the stands, 7 closed-circuit stewards' camera posts, 180 tv monitors and an electronic teletimer system that posts the fractions of every race.
The inside of the course also has a satelite station with a 6.1m antenna which allows the transmission of coded and digital signals. On 28th April, 1993, another state of the art Tote system replaced the previous one.
Further improvements included the ability for off-course gambling to be pooled on the on-course pool from Buenos Aires, its province and other states within Argentina. Racing takes place 120 times throughout the year with the most important race being the Gran Premio Carlos Pellegrini in December.
Members can invite their guests to the Members' Stand where jacket & tie are compulsory. In the Vagon lounge on the first floor and the V.I.P. lounge on the 3rd floor, members can dine and have tea at their leisure during racing.
San Isidro's lounges, most of which have views over the course, are also apt for corporates events and parties. More information about these can be obtained at San Isidro's Marketing Department on telephone: 743-4011, extension 202/206.
Other important installations compliment San Isidro. It has a Tattersalls arena where bloodstock is auctioned and important corporate events are staged. Situated in a part of the Paddock area, it seats 1,100 people and has room for 2,500 standing. The ring, which has a diameter of 9m, also has 4 private function rooms and an air-conditioning and heating system. Tattersalls is reached via Avenida Marquez or via the car parks.
The Training Area
The Training Area takes up 94 hectares of San Isidro and has 5 tracks. The largest, the grass track, is 2,420m long and 30m wide; the second , dirt/sand, is 2,247m by 25m; the third, again of sand, 2,100m by 25m, with the other tracks being less long and made up of river sand.
San Isidro also has 1,800 boxes distributed over 135 barns, where most of the horses are kept. This area also houses the Apprentices' Academy where practical and theory lessons are given to the pupils, including the physical rigours and training necessary for riding.
There is also a Farriers' School, founded by the Jockey Club in recognition of its ever-important role in the turf world. Next door, the Veterinary and Analysis Laboratory are stationed along with the Quarantine Area for horses coming from other states or countries.
A Natural Park
Not just an equine center, San Isidro turf fans can also enjoy the carefully designed park that surrounds the track. Wide open spaces with magnificent boulevards lined with numerous trees, plants and flowers allow punters to reflect on winnig afternoons or ripped up tickets in a relaxing setting.
Photos & copyright by Javier-Eduardo Bayardi