The first Florida track was erected in 1922 and immediately caught the imagination of sports fans. Wagering was legalised in 1931 and bettors have enjoyed regular visits to one of the many venues situated throughout the Sunshine State. Night racing was particularly popular with holidaymakers and evening meetings quickly became a regular fixture on the calendar.
There are just 17 dog tracks left in the country with 11 of those situated in Florida and, although many believe that the sport is seemingly in decline, there is still a huge demand for regular racing. It is also hugely popular in Australia, Ireland and the UK. The latter has several meetings staged every single day of the week with popular events such as the Greyhound Derby and the Golden Jacket attracting significant crowds on an annual basis. Many fans also enjoy watching the action from the comfort of their own home with William Hill's Betting TV providing free-to-air pictures from numerous tracks. The quick-fire nature of the sport is a huge part of its appeal with races staged just 15 minutes apart. The latest greyhound odds with William Hill are priced up ahead of each card and the sport is still an enticing prospect to those who enjoy a flutter.
In Florida, the future of the sport remains in the hands of the Supreme Court and those who work in the industry are nervously awaiting a decision. If a ban was introduced, it would not come into force until 2020 but it would be a significant blow to the sport and entertainment industry. There is support for both sides and the outcome is in the balance at the time of writing. Any decision isn't expected to be made until mid-November 2018.
Popular tracks include Daytona Beach, Derby Lane, Ebro, Jacksonville/Orange Park and Palm Beach. Sanford Kennel Club in Orlando ran over 16,000 races last year whilst Derby Lane was the home of the Derby Lane Million which was the most lucrative contest on the calendar and even attracted competitors from Ireland.
There have been many memorable moments which have taken place at Florida tracks. In 1993, 6,677 fans roared on Grey's Statesman as he romped home by an impressive seven lengths in Derby Lane's $100,000 Distance Classic. 2007 winner Flying Stanley became a household name after winning an unprecedented eight stakes races and was subsequently entered into the Hall of Fame. The sport has a great pedigree and history and Florida has been at the heart of it.
The sport has a battle on its hands and the future of greyhound racing in the state is in doubt. For now, it is still going strong and there is clearly a demand for regular fixtures and meetings across the state. Fans continue to lap it up and enjoy all of the action at the track and that hopefully points towards a brighter future for the sport.Updated Date: 31 August 2018, 15:04