A Spectacular Weekend at Balmoral Park

On Saturday, June 10th, HITS Founder and CEO, Tom Struzzieri, along with Crete Mayor Michael Einhorn and Southland CVB President Jim Garrett, led a day-long celebration to officially Re-Open Chicagoland’s beloved race track.

Over the past year, HITS has transformed the shuttered racetrack into a state-of-the-art Equestrian Show Jumping complex which has multiple show rings replete with all-weather footing, 23 permanent barns to house nearly 1000 horses, grazing paddocks, and bridle paths.

During the inaugural ribbon-cutting ceremony, attendees were reminded of what Balmoral Park once was and what its vibrant future now holds as the newest Midwest mecca for Equestrian sport. Chicago Visitors’ Bureau President, Jim Garrett, commented on Balmoral Park’s glorious re-establishment, “All this has now created a new Convention and Visitors destination for Equestrians in the Chicago Southland, which will have huge economic impact for Chicago and its surrounding areas.” After the ceremony, Community members flocked to tour the VIP Clubhouse and reminisce over thoughtfully preserved memorabilia while toasting the new life of Balmoral Park.

In addition to the formalities, the day’s festivities included a fun, family-friendly Kid’s Zone, sponsored by Purina Animal Nutrition, which included activities for both Equestrians and community members to enjoy, together. Among the most popular and entertaining activities were a bounce house, pony rides, a petting zoo, a face painting booth, and a horse-less horse show.

By 2:00 PM all heads turned to watch the best of the Midwest Equestrians skillfully negotiate the massive course designed by Anna Catalina “Catsy” Cruz Harris in the $50,000 Purina Animal Nutrition Grand Prix. For the Crete, Illinois community this marked the first time many experienced Show Jumping of this magnitude. After nineteen competitors tried, only Derek Braun of Lexington, Kentucky aboard Lacarolus, owned by MRN Family Corp., succeeded for the win with double clear rounds.

To showcase all of the magnificent tasks that horses perform and how they are able to help many different types of people, HITS chose Victory Reins Therapeutic Riding Center (VRTRC) located in Peotone, Illinois as their Grand Re-Opening Charity Partner. The $5 admission charged for the Grand Re-Opening was donated directly to VRTRC. Victory Reins works with children and adults who have special-needs, and believes that, “The most rewarding part of what we offer is that precious connection between the horse and rider,” said Sandy Michalewicz of VRTRC. Michalewicz expressed how honored and excited they are to be part of the Grand Re-Opening. “The transformation is amazing. It has remained so beautiful, and now even better as a Show Jumping Facility. Plus, I think that it will be an amazing opportunity for the local community for job growth, and it has really upped-the-ante in Show Jumping for our region.”  

Throughout the rest of the show season at the beautiful Balmoral Park, HITS will partner with other local nonprofit groups.

Derek Braun & Lacarolus | Andrew Ryback Photogaphy