Palermo Hippodrome Horse Racing
The ‘Hipodromo Argentino’ in Palermo
For fans of horse racing, the ‘Hipodromo Argentino’ (Argentina’s Main Racecourse) is definitely worth a visit. If you are here in mid-November, you may even be able to catch the most important event in the racing calendar, the ‘Gran Premio Nacional’, which is sometimes also known as the ‘Argentine Derby.’
You may expect the Hipodromo to be full of annoying, snooty, better-than-you upper class people, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Just like race meetings in the UK or US, there is a mix of all types of people there, including many families, enjoying the day out in the sun.
The history of Buenos Aires Hippodrome
This beautiful race track was inaugurated on 7th May 1876, when a horse called Resbaloso took the honors in the first race, watched by 10 thousand people. These days, in addition to this sport being called ‘Turf’ here in Argentina, almost all of the horses have English names, which means it is often fun to hear the racetrack announcer try and fail with the pronunciation.
The main entrance and stand was built in 1908, with a capacity of 2,000, by a French architect named Faure Dujarric, in the usual lovely Art Nouveau style of that period that is seen all through Buenos Aires, especially in Recoleta and along Avenida de Mayo in the city center.
The Hipodromo has been privately owned since 1992. That probably goes some way towards explaining the over-zealous security guards there who will no doubt harass you not to take pictures.
Also inside that building are seemingly miles and miles of underground slot machines. There are in fact more than 2000 of these automated money grabbers – and they are more popular than the horses, in fact that part of the Hipodromo is open 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year. It’s one of those places where can’t tell what time of day it is if you lose track of time, or just lose yourself among the miles of slot machines. There is certainly a lot of money in this building, which again may explain the tight security.
The ‘Gran Premio Nacional’ of Argentina
The Argentine equivalent of the Derby is called the Gran Premio Nacional, running on a chosen Saturday every mid-November. It was first run in 1884. The best horses in Argentina compete in the race, for the honor of being the best in a country that has some excellent horses.
Another nice touch you may get to experience at a historic race such as the Gran Premio is the performance of the national anthem before the main race by the Granaderos, the Argentine horseback regiment formed by General San Martin, who is the main Argentine independence hero.
The Hipodromo – Getting there and getting in
The Hipodromo is not too easily reachable by public transport, but it is definitely doable. You can either get the subway Line D to the Palermo stop, and then walk about 5 blocks along Avenida Intendente Bullrich (pass ‘Jumbo’ supermarket) until you reach Av. Dorrego, where you will see the Hipodromo across the street and to the left. Or you can get either bus 10, 36, 160 or 166, which all drop you off in that area. But it is probably easiest to get a taxi there and back.
Entrance to the Hipodromo has varying costs, depending on the day you go and the importance of the race. Not very much for what is a very nice, long day out – races usually start around noon and go right the way into the evening. You can check ahead when races are held by calling 4778-2800 (if you speak Spanish) or on www.palermo.com.ar – click ‘Informacion Hipica’ followed by ‘Calendario y Resultados’ for a list of all the race meeting dates, which continue all year round.
Location of the Palermo Hippodrome
Avenida del Libertador 4100, between Avenida Dorrego and Olleros, Palermo