The new header photo above is an early photo of the old Latonia racetrack in Covington, a town in northern Kentucky, from the early 1900s.
The design of the grandstand, as well as the clubhouse in the foreground, is Victorian, and the scene tells a story about the principals and patrons of Latonia. The racetrack and its features are brightly painted and kept in spanking trim condition, and there are four flags flying over the scene.
The combination of the design, ornamentation, and care of the grounds indicates a great deal of confidence, pride, and energy. This is clearly a progressive and positive operation at a time when national feeling and confidence are high.
The track is only one means of expressing those feelings, but they could not be clearer.
The photo has caught Latonia on a day of bright sun and a strong breeze that has set the flags flying. Judging by the leaves on the trees, it would be perhaps late summer or early fall.
A gorgeous day similar to this one.
A race has finished moments before the photo was taken, and part of the field is galloping out toward the first turn, where the photo was taken. A few of the race watchers, perhaps grooms, are sitting on the freshly painted outer fence between the photographer and the clubhouse. A small crowd is visible on the clubhouse porch, a much larger crowd is in the grandstand.
One other certainty is this is not a day with an immense crowd there to see major racing. Not the Latonia Derby of that year, nor the International Special of 1924. The latter was won by Hall of Fame racer Sarazen from international star Epinard, with Princess Doreen among the beaten field. A crowd of 60,000 came out to see that day’s racing, and such numbers filled the grounds at Latonia.
Not far south of Cincinnati and part of the financially bouyant northern Kentucky area, Latonia had good purses and good horses for its time. Seven Kentucky Derby winners also won the Latonia Derby, and national racing stars like Exterminator and Black Gold raced at Latonia during the 1920s.
The racetrack operated from 1883 until July 29, 1939. The racetrack almost survived the Great Depression, but it was sold to Standard Oil of Ohio and taken down at some point during World War II. Today the property is a shopping center. In 1959, a new racetrack called Latonia opened in Florence, Ky., about 10 miles south of the original Latonia site. The newer Latonia racetrack was sold and renamed Turfway in 1986.