Was there a racetrack for steeplechases in North Salem?
According to longtime North Salem resident and horsewoman Jill Murphy, what is called “The Racetrack” on Baxter Road is simply an old racetrack. “They held point-to-point races there in the 1950s,” Murphy says in reference to the amateur, off-season hunt races, “not steeplechases.”
“In 1979, the 114-acre parcel was in danger of being developed, and a group of concerned citizens bought the land and donated it to the North Salem Open Land Foundation to preserve it for equine pursuits, dog walkers, and fishermen who use the eight-acre central pond,” Murphy continues. An additional 15 acres were donated in 1985 by a group known as the Baxter 1981 Associates.
Located on the south side of Baxter Road, The Racetrack is now a popular and well-used destination. It is free and open to the public.
At its heart is the eight-acre pond surrounded by the remains of the old track and numerous trails. While The Racetrack is very appealing, it also has become a bit of a problem for horseback riders as there have been numerous incidents where dogs walked off-leash have chased and bitten horses. Local avian advocates and enthusiasts have also expressed concern for nesting birds that are harassed and killed by dogs walked off-leash there. If you’re planning a visit, enjoy The Racetrack but please keep your dog leashed.