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Maywood Park, located only minutes from Chicago's O'Hare Airport in Illinois, can trace its harness racing roots to when the racetrack was surrounded only by forest preserves and land. Maywood Park was originally the home of Cook County Fairgrounds, where in 1932 and during Chicago's Century of Progress Exposition in 1933 and '34, non-wagering harness racing purse programs were held both in the afternoon and evening under the lights during the Great Depression.
Maywood Park is the only Chicagoland racetrack devoted exclusively to standardbred racing. Since 1946, Maywood Park has conducted a harness racing meeting for 59 consecutive seasons, the longest in the state's standardbred history. In June of 1947 the first full harness race program to be televised anywhere in the country took place at Maywood Park. On March 29, 1957, the track's season-opening festivities was televised nationally by NBC's "Tonight Show". The network had a 15-man crew and three cameras, one at trackside and two on the rooftop, to televise two races and conduct several interviews.
In 1979, world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali won a seven-furlong exhibition race, a fundraising event to benefit Provident Hospital of Chicago, the oldest and largest African-American managed hospital in Illinois at the time.
In 1984, Maywood Park became the first Chicago-area track - and only the second ever - to host a prestigious Breeders' Crown event. On Oct. 19, 1984, the Two-Year-Old Filly Pace Final carried a $550,000 prize - still the largest purse offered at a Chicagoland standardbred track - and was won in a thrilling three-horse photo finish by Amneris in 1:57.1, a tick off the world record, with Hall of Fame driver John Campbell in the sulky.
Recognized as one of the fastest and safest half-mile racing surfaces in North America, Maywood Park seen numerous world records, including She's A Great Lady's 1:51.2 mile in 1995, a record that still stands nine years later for a 3-year-old filly pacer on a half-mile track. Entering the 2005 season, four of the 12 world pacing records on a half-mile track are owned or shared by Maywood Park. The largest attendance in the track's history came on Sept. 27, 1980, when 20,133 jammed the facility. The record mutuel handle took place on Dec. 21, 2001, when $2,078,897 was wagered on that Friday evening card at Maywood Park.