Horse Racing, Greyhound Racing and Breeding in C. AmericaFriday Dec 20th, 2013
Central America consists of 8 countries with Mexico the northern most and Panama the southern most. It is in Mexico and Panama where the vast majority of pari mutual activity is to be found, the other 6 countries of Belize, Costa Rica, Honduras, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador, lack the population and infrastructure to host large events such as horse racing and greyhound tacks.
Minor horse racing festivals have been held in Guatemala and Costa Rica in past years, but in the smaller countries of Central America you will always find sports betting, usually in the casinos. Costa Rica is known as one of the major sports book centers of the world – San Jose probably has 50+ physical sports book facilities. Many countries also have OTB’s where bets can be made on the horse and greyhound races in Mexico and Panama.
Mexico has more Pari mutual action than the rest of Central America where the Hipodromo de las Americas at one time had an attendance of over 43,000 and at the track there is enough stabling room for 1700 horse.
Only one country in Central America is home to the Basque game of Jai Alai. In Mexico the Fronton Palacio Tijuana Jai Alai first opened in 1947, sadly it closed in 1998 two years after Mexico City’s Mexico Fonton closed its doors. Although Jai Alai thrives in other Latin America countries such as Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil, Paraguay, Chile and Peru, Colombia and Venezuela, it has disappeared from the venues in Central America although Mexico still sends a national team to major championships around the world.
Greyhound racing is not as popular as North America. Mexico is one of the few countries that meet the exacting standards set by the World Greyhound Racing Federation. http://www.worldgreyhoundracingfederation.com In Tijuana the Agua Caliente racetrack offers races daily, the track was originally built for horse racing which has now discontinued.
Panama has the largest sports books outlets in Central America, many in the regions largest casinos. Horse racing is very popular in Panama and the country has only one race track which is the Presidente Remon track in Panama City. Unique to Panama is horse barrel racing and is so big there that they are part of the National Barrel Horse Association.