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Book Review - The Agua Caliente Story: Remembering Mexico's Legendary Racetrack

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The Agua Caliente Story

The Agua Caliente Story by David Beltran

Eclipse Press

The Bottom Line

Agua Caliente in Tijuana, Mexico, is a track with a long and storied history which contemporary fans of racing may not be familiar with. Tijuana native and lifelong Caliente racing fan David Jimenez Beltran collected many stories and artifacts from Agua Caliente over the years and this is the fruit of his labor. Fans of racing history will enjoy reading about this great track's role in the development of the sport of Thoroughbred racing.
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  • Excellent historical tribute to Agua Caliente by one of its biggest fan
  • Text accompanied by many photographs and program covers
  • Beltran makes sure Agua Caliente's place in history is never forgotten


  • We found no fault with this work at all. Beltran's lifelong work is complete.


  • No book about Caliente is complete without first revisiting the original Tijuana track.
  • After a flood reduced old Tijuana to rubble, the new Agua Caliente was built two miles east.
  • Two great horses of the 1930's, Phar Lap and Seabiscuit, shipped in to win the Caliente Handicap.
  • Caliente thrived because of ultraconservatism north of the border.
  • Prohibition and Sunday racing restrictions made Caliente a popular place for Hollywood glitterati.
  • The rich and famous could gamble all day and party into the night south of the border.
  • Away from the Jockey Club's jurisdiction, Caliente was the place to test many new innovations.
  • Among these include the starting gate, the jockey safety helmet, and Pick 6 wagering.
  • Sadly, the original Caliente burned down in August 1971. A new facility opened 3 years later.
  • Caliente's role in racing may be diminished today, but its place in history cannot be denied.

Guide Review - Book Review - The Agua Caliente Story: Remembering Mexico's Legendary Racetrack

At the turn of the last century, America was a very different place. Conservativism was rampant, with alcohol prohibition and Sunday rest day laws in effect. The rich and famous in Southern California wanted a place where they could continue to spend their money as they wished. Agua Caliente racetrack just south of the border in Tijuana, Mexico served this purpose. Horse racing, card tables, bars, and later, greyhound racing, kept the money and booze flowing. In his first book, David Jimenez Beltran presents to racing fans this famous track's long and colorful history. Jockeys George Woolf, Eddie Arcaro, and Bill Shoemaker started here, as did trainer Charlie Whittingham and racing official Marshall Cassidy. Racing fans saw the first starting gates, the first jockey safety helmets, and bet their first quinellas, exacts, daily doubles, and Pick Sixes at Caliente, and could also do it on Sundays, when racing was prohibited in America. Caliente was the place where the newest innovations in racing could be tested, away from the conservative Jockey Club in New York. Track owner "Brother John" Alessio was behind many of these new ideas, many of which you can still see today at tracks across America if not the world. Because of this, even though Caliente's role in today's racing environment may be minor, its place in history is not. Through his book, Beltran has ensured that the track he enjoyed starting at the age of 2 with his father and brother, will never be forgotten.
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