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B. F. White and the Ben White Raceway

According to a May 1924 Orlando Magazine article “My Kingdom for a Horse,” B. F. White’s first venture in Orlando related to horse training was in 1921.

Three years ago [1921] Mr. Frank H. Ellis a man not only wealthy in worldly goods but rich in love of life and in spirit, with Mr. B. F. White, who can also write checks for goodly sums but prefers to be known as a trainer of blooded horses, and has had many record breakers to his credit entered in the Grand Circuit races, decided on Orlando as the winter home for their thoroughbreds. The climate being ideal, location easy of access, stables convenient, track ready, Exposition Park soon saw them settled in their winter quarters.

Horse stables and Orlando Racetrack at Exposition Park, circa 1924. View larger image.

And then came other owners of fine horses, whose northern homes were too severe for themselves and their horses, so Mr. White arranged for more space, until this last season there were over eighty thoroughbreds at Exposition Park and because of their being here, where conditions were perfect, new records in training were made.

Mr. White has broken and trained colts on the Orlando race track which have carried the name of Orlando wherever horse-racing is talked of. The first year he brought out a colt, Lee Worthy, that when three years old won all the big stakes in the Grand Circuit – 2.021/4 – and trained on the Orlando track.

In 1922 Mr. White shipped back thirty-seven colts that were broken and trained here, and two of them hold world records for two-year-olds.

1971 Ben White Raceway Directory

Information on Ben White Raceway from the UCF Library:

Ben White Raceway was the largest training facility and winter home for champion racehorses. Located in Fairview Park, a 120-acre tract about 3 miles from downtown Orlando, the raceway was owned and maintained by the City of Orlando. The track was named in honor of one of the nation’s most famous trainers, Ben White, who won numerous titles and chose Orlando as a training site in 1920. As a result of White’s international reputation, the track became known as “the colt capital of harness racing”.

Ben White Raceway, however, lost popularity as it proved to be too expensive to ship horses to Orlando. In July 2001, the name was changed to Trotters Park at the request of Ben White’s family because the track no longer had anything to do with harness racing. By January 10, 2002, the City of Orlando decided to close the already struggling facility and use the property for a city park.

According to the 1963 R. L. Polk’s Orlando and Winter Park Directory, the Ben White Raceway was located at 1805 Lee Road. John E. Long is listed as the blacksmith. Adjacent to the raceway at 1820 Lee Road was James R. Stockman Harness Shop.

The 1971 Directory lists all the horses, stables and owners with additional information. Additional items below under Attachments.

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May 1924 Orlando Magazine

"My Kingdom for a Horse," article in the May 1924 Orlando Magazine mentions E. B. White.

Ben White Raceway Aerial View circa 1963

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Ben White Raceway Directory 1971

Front cover of the 1971 Directory for Ben White Raceway.

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Ben White Raceway 1971 Directory

Ben White Raceway 1971 Directory

Orlando Racetrack at Exposition Park

Orlando Racetrack at Exposition Park circa 1924.

Comments to “B. F. White and the Ben White Raceway”

  1. Lynne says:

    i have a pencil drawing print by Nancy White, depicting Ben White holding, and farrier John E. Long shoeing a horse. Found this site while trying to figure out if there was any connection to the naming of John Long pool. I still don’t know about that.

  2. Terry Bennett says:

    hi everyone this is Terry Bennett I grew up on Ben White Raceway from 59 through the middle seventies my dad worked for Clint Hodgins for years and I train for Mac Weaver from the early ’70s through the mid 70s sure miss that old place

    • Kim P says:

      Greetings Terry! Thanks for visiting our Ben White Raceway post on Orlando Memory! It must have been exciting working with those beautiful horses. Our family loved to watch the quarter horses going round the track, then we’d eat at the cafeteria next door! If you have photos from your time at the Raceway that you’d like to share, we’d be happy to add them to this post! We hope you find more posts and continue to share your Orlando memories with us all! THE ORLANDO MEMORY TEAM

  3. Peggy says:

    I am looking for the relatives of the owners of a restaurant that was there at the time. Their last name was Sherrard from Sandusky, Ohio. We used to go up on the roof and watch the horse races. I lived near them and went to school with their children.
    Thank you.

    • Kim P says:

      Do you mean the buffet that was near the entrance on Lee Road? They had the best roast beef!
      If you look at the Orange County Comptroller’s site and search for property records under that name, you might be able to find out when they sold their property.
      If you go to the Orange County Property Appraiser’s site, you can search on that last name and find that there are three people in Orange County with that name, but I have no idea if they are related. If you live in Orange County, visit one of our libraries and use Ancestry to search for obituaries or visit the downtown Orlando library and search our city directories and old phone books to see if you can find any old information on the family. Good Luck!

  4. Cathleen Hunzeker says:

    I lived there in the mid 50s. On the back quarter mile track in the cinderblock houses. The stories and descriptions I remember are like yesterday. I am looking fir one horse. Bay Gay. Anyone remember the owner?

    • Edie Kinem says:

      My Mother worked for Ben White, Jr during 88-92…I remember it well. During that time, I worked for Skip Lewis. There was many good horses came off that track, world champions!
      Merry Christmas!

      • Kim P says:

        Thank you for visiting and sharing your memories of the Ben White Raceway!

        • MARY Bender says:

          When I was young we use to swim at Lake Fairview. I hated the bricks in the parking lot. They would be so hot.

          • Kim P says:

            Greetings Mary! Thank you for visiting the post on the Ben White Raceway and sharing your memories of swimming at Lake Fairview across the street. I remember those hot summer days, as well. Thank goodness for flip flops! Orlando Memory Team

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