Great day out in Lima, that is free to enter.
Race card four times a week.
Background of the history of flat racing in Peru's capital.
For horse-racing lovers, or just for those looking for a different tourism experience, seeing various levels of Lima’s social strata at play, a trip to the races is highly recommended. It also makes a splendid venue for a stag do / bucks party!
There is only one racecourse (hipodromo) in Lima, located in Monterrico district … beside the aptly-named Jockey Plaza, which is Peru’s largest and busiest shopping centre, and not far from the fortress-like US Embassy.
The history of the Hipodromo de Monterrico dates back only as far as 1960, but there has been at least one racecourse in Peru since 1864. The initial few years saw racing in various locations, in both the port district of Callao and Central Lima.
Then, in 1877, the US railway baron, Henry Meiggs, who is responsible for the building of Peru’s Central Railway, provided the finance for a new racecourse in La Legua, in Callao. This came to be known as 'Cancha Meiggs', after its sponsor, although he died the same year as its inauguration.
Cancha Meiggs operated until 1902, when it was felt that the racecourse needed to be more centrally-located, in order to be able to capture the larger public in Lima. A 99-year lease on a parcel of land in Santa Beatriz - near the location of the present-day National Stadium - was obtained from Lima Municipality and a racetrack, which measured 2,400 metres at its peak, was laid down, along with stands for the spectators.
This was the seat of Peruvian horse racing for 35 years, until the pressure from Lima’s growing population prompted a move away from the centre to San Felipe in the district of Jesus Maria, where Peru’s Jockey Club was given a parcel of land, as compensation for returning the Santa Beatriz area to the government.
The first race in San Felipe was run on Dec 4th, 1938, but eventually became a victim of its own success: the growth of the Lima race-going public meant that a larger area was needed.
With this in mind, land was bought in Monterrico in 1952 and construction of two race tracks and stands was begun in 1955. By the time it was finished in 1960, the project had cost $US 4.5 million and had capacity for 8,000 spectators.
Currently, there are regular flat race meets on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoons. What's more, it is free to enter ... although you will undoubtedly want to take some cash in order to have a flutter on the nags. For the latest race programme, check here (website in Spanish).
Besides the racing, the racecourse has also been the venue for a number of major concerts since 2000, including Shakira, Pet Shop Boys, Morrissey, New Kids on the Block, Katy Perry and Ed Sheeran.