The history of Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Ariz., dates back to January 1956. It was the first organized professional sports franchise in Arizona. Turf Paradise has one of the longest seasons of thoroughbred racing in the U.S. The track is a seven-furlong infield turf course with a 1 1/8-mile chute.
Live thoroughbred racing is the attraction at Turf Paradise, located in north central Phoenix. Live horse racing is conducted five days a week at Turf Paradise, generally Friday through Tuesday. Simulcasting from race tracks around the country complement on all race days. Turf Paradise hosts about 10 races a day scheduled approximately 30 minutes apart. Simulcasts from Turf Paradise are shown in over 2,000 locations in 35 countries.
The Racing Season at Turf Paradise
The racing season at Turf Paradise runs from mid-October through early May. In 2018, opening day was Saturday, October 13. On opening day, there was a full card of live horse racing, free T-shirts for the first 5,000 paid admissions, live music, a fun park for kids, and a barbecue tent.
On live race days (Saturdays, Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, except major holidays) gates open at 11 a.m. Post time is 12:30 p.m. on weekdays and 12:55 p.m. on weekends. Most Thursdays and Fridays (but not all) are dark. You can see the entire season calendar online. Simulcasting is offered seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The last day of the racing season at Turf Paradise is May 5, 2019.
The Location of Turf Paradise
Turf Paradise is located in north central Phoenix. It is NOT accessible by Valley Metro Rail. That's at 15th Avenue, but you access the parking area from 19th Avenue. You can see this location marked on a Google map. From there you can zoom in and out, get driving directions if you need more specifics, and see what else is nearby.
- From the Southwest: Take I-17 north to Bell Road. Turn east (right) on Bell Road and drive to 15th Avenue.
- From the Southeast: Take the Piestewa Peak Parkway, SR 51, north to Bell Road. Turn west (left) on Bell Road and drive to 15th Avenue.
- From the West: Take the 101 Loop to I-17 South, exit Bell Road, turn left and drive east to 15th Avenue.
Prices at Turf Paradise
- Grandstand: Monday through Wednesday, the grandstand is free. On Saturday and Sunday, it's $3 per person, with children under age 16 admitted free with accompanying adult
- The Clubhouse and Turf Club is $5 per person
- Parking at Turf Paradise is free. Valet parking is available for a charge.
The Turf Club
If you want to make a special outing out of your day at the races at Turf Paradise, the Turf Club experience is highly recommended. It will cost you a few extra couple of bucks over the Grandstand admission, plus $5 per person for a table that is reserved for you for the entire afternoon.
The menu at the Turf Club isn't extensive, but there are selections for everyone. Here are a few things to remember about eating at the Turf Club at Turf Paradise:
- Reservations are recommended.
- There is no minimum order at the Turf Club. Some people just go to have dessert and coffee or enjoy a Bloody Mary or two or three while they watch the races.
- The tables right near the glass are nice, but your table might be in the sun for at least a part of the afternoon. Bring sunglasses for those tables.
- The tables are on different levels, so you'll have no trouble seeing the races through large glass windows no matter which level you are on.
- There are separate betting windows right at the Turf Club, so the lines are shorter.
- Be kind to your server. Because your table never turns over (meaning that you have that table for the entire afternoon), yours is the only tip your server will receive from your table.
- The Turf Club is only open during live race days from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. It is closed on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and during the summer.
Hints and Tips for Turf Paradise
- Turf Paradise is for everyone, whether you are a seriously into pari-mutuel wagering locally and at tracks around the country, or if you are simply out for a fun day that's a little different than going to the movies. You'll find all kinds of people here including singles, couples, groups, young, old, and families.
- There is no dress code at Turf Paradise. If you are spending some or all of your day at the Turf Club, Club House, or Players' Club the management requests business casual attire. Nice jeans are fine.
- Post times usually begin at either 12:30 p.m. or 1 p.m., depending on the time of year. Gates open at 11 a.m. Come early if you plan on following other races around the country from Clubhouse betting carrels or various spots in the general Grandstand area. If you aren't a seasoned veteran, you might want to come a little early to enjoy lunch, walk around, see the horses arrive at the paddock, and decide which part of Turf Paradise will be your home base for the afternoon.
- If you have paid admission to the Clubhouse and Turf Club, that doesn't mean you have to stay in there all day. You can wander out to the Grandstand for fresh air and sunshine or go trackside to be closer to the action.
- Even if you are at Turf Paradise with a Grandstand admission, there are several seating choices (high and low, unshaded or covered) where you can catch the action. There is a family picnic area. There are indoor snack bars for Grandstand admissions. Alcoholic beverages are available.
- You might consider Turf Paradise for special occasions like an anniversary party or a graduation. For larger parties, there are private suites and a terrace for just that purpose, and special packages may include souvenirs, photos, and tours. The staff at Turf Paradise can help you with your plans.
- You don't have to be a serious gambler to enjoy horse racing. While two bucks doesn't get you much more than about 40 seconds of entertainment at a blackjack table, a two-dollar bet at the racetrack might involve about half an hour of poring over the program, analyzing the jockey and horse statistics, checking the track board to see how others are betting and the odds on each horse, and, in the final analysis, picking a horse based on your favorite color or a horse's name. If you are visiting Turf Paradise for the entertainment value, and not to make money or cover your rent for the month, relax. A day at the races needn't cost any more than a ticket to a baseball game. It's just fun.
- Don't be self-conscious if you need a little assistance at the track. If you are in the Clubhouse and Turf Club, you can pick up a handy flyer that explains betting, how to read the program, how to read the track board, and how to figure out what the odds will pay on your bet. While it is appropriate to be quick at the betting windows, the staff is helpful and pleasant.
- While the general admission areas are large and afford everyone great views of the action, they are showing varying degrees of wear and tear, both inside and out.
- Children under age 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.
- There is a grassy picnic area adjacent to the Grandstand where there are shaded tables and a railbird’s view of the races.
- There are two places where you can enjoy a meal while you watch your favorite horse win the race. The Turf Club is the VIP dining room, with tiered seating. Preferred dress is Country Club Casual. There's a $5 per person seating charge. For more casual fare, The Clubhouse offers both full service and self service. Reservations are suggested for either dining option.
- There are many Off Track Betting (OTB) sites for Turf Paradise in the Greater Phoenix area.