Despite being a proud and active Montrealer I had never been to the Montreal Hippodrome until this year. I don't know why. I love horses and the idea of getting to watch them run in person definitely interests me. The Montreal Hippodrome has been at its location on Decarie Boulevard from June 1907 until the present day. A long and storied history belongs to the Montreal Hippodrome, which used to be known as Blue Bonnets, as Montreal has always been a city where horseracing is a popular sport. There was thoroughbred racing held at the track on and off until it finally ended in 1973. Today there is just harness racing. The Hippodrome is open 7 days a week but the live racing happens Friday and Saturday nights and also Sunday afternoons. There is no better deal in town in that there is no admission fee to watch the horse racing; the only money you would spend would be if you chose to make some wagers. It is definitely a place where you can do things at your own pace and no pressure is exerted on you to bet; you can just watch. If you so choose, you can place bets with a teller or make one at one of the many machines available. There are horse races shown on the big screens inside taking place at other race tracks around the world that you can also place wagers on. Throughout the year at the Hippodrome there are different special events held at the track, such as the Prix du Quebec 2006 which will take place on June 25, 2006 and is the most important horse racing event in Quebec every year. Also on September 3, 2006 the Breeders' Cup and the Coupe de L'Avenir will be held. Different events that have nothing to do with horse racing are also held at the Hippodrome, such as the finals of Miss Hawaiian Tropic 2006 (August 20, 2006), The Exotic Bird exhibit (October 21-22), and the Annual Salon of Gems and Minerals (November 17-19, 2006).
Even if you are not interested in horse racing another reason to head over to the Hippodrome is their great three level restaurant called Le Centaure. Their buffet is one of the more impressive ones I have seen in Montreal. It is huge, varied and tasty! On Friday and Saturday evenings the buffet consists of such dishes as frogs' legs, a pasta bar, a carving station, pizza, and sushi. Dessert, which is a must, consists of a choice of fresh fruit, assorted pies and cakes, cookies, pastries, and caramel custard. The brunch on Sunday is just as impressive with a selection that includes croissants, assorted salads, soup, eggs, bacon, an omelet station, a carving station, assorted cheeses, and assorted cold cuts. The desserts include a huge and flowing chocolate fondue fountain with fruit, cakes and pies. A bonus is that you can watch and listen to a description of the action that is happening on the track from your table. You can also place bets from your table and some of the tables have their own television screens. Reservations are recommended.
-Phone number: (514) 739-2741 (call same number for reservations at Le Centaure)
-Transportation: Namur metro station (within walking distance). Plenty of free parking onsite
-Race schedule: Friday starting at 6:50, Saturday starting at 6:50 and Sunday starting at 1:25
-Le Centaure: Hours: Evening races: opens at 6 pm and Sunday brunch at 11:30
Buffet: $23.95 per person, $15.95 for ages 6-12, free for ages 0-5,
and the Friday lunch buffet (11:30-2:00) is $10.95