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Hialeah reopens after 8-year hiatus

Nov. 27, 2009 at 1:31 PM

MIAMI, Nov. 27 (UPI) -- After being shuttered eight years, unable to compete in South Florida, storied Hialeah Park race track expects thousands for its re-opening Saturday.

What the tropical heat and salt air didn't ruin of the once elaborate facility, the winds of Hurricane Wilma did, owner John Brunetti recalled, wrecking the barns that once housed the greatest thoroughbreds, from Citation to Seabiscuit.

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Only quarter horses will run now, but Brunetti has been waiting a long time to get this far.

After a filly named Cheeky Miss won the final race on May 22, 2001, Hialeah was shuttered, the loser in a decades-long battle against Gulfstream Park and Calder Race Course for exclusive racing dates.

On Saturday, though, the 84-year-old track, gussied up after years of dormancy, will reawaken for two consecutive 20-day quarter-horse meets, The Miami Herald reported.

Brunetti is hoping to restore some of Hialeah's glory while resurrecting it in the form of a combination race track, casino and entertainment center.

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