Even before Jerry Simms took it over, Turf Paradise enjoyed a respectable standing in the Phoenix community. It officially opened its doors to the public on January 7, 1956. However, its original owner conceived the idea for Turf Paradise several years prior and proceeded to build it despite the many people who told him he would not succeed.
In fact, Turf Paradise was built 25 miles from downtown Phoenix, a fact that many people argued would lead to its downfall. They said that no one would want to travel so far out of town to watch or bet on the races at Turf Paradise.
Nonetheless, the original owner continued to build Turf Paradise and opened it in early 1956. It quickly went on to become a successful horse racing venue and became the first officially recognized professional sporting franchise in Arizona.
In the more than six decades it has been open to the public, Turf Paradise has only had five owners, the most recent being Jerry Simms. The original owner oversaw its daily operations for more than 30 years before he handed it over to a new owner in the early 1980s.
During the early to mid-80s, Turf Paradise underwent its first major renovation. Improvements were made to its dirt track and a new chute was added.
In short time, more renovations were made to the existing clubhouse. By 1989, Turf Paradise began accepting off-track betting from a single location in nearby Cave Creek. Off-track betting, or OTB, is now one of the primary ways that Turf Paradise brings in revenue with its OTB operations extending to 45 in-state locations, more than 900 out-of-state sites, and six international locations.
In 2000, Jerry Simms took over the helm at Turf Paradise and quickly invested millions into making it the premier horse racing facility it is today. He began by expanding the property’s clubhouse and the Turf House. The clubhouse now boasts an exclusive Director’s Suite as well as an outdoor patio that overlooks the track. These renovations cost Jerry Simms more than $5 million.
In addition, Jerry Simms added 80 terminals throughout the property as well as two private betting carrels. Thanks to his real estate savvy, Jerry Simms easily acquired the land adjacent to the racetrack. This property, at the intersection of 19th Avenue and Bell Road, has opened the possibility of big-box retailers and other commercial endeavors moving into the neighborhood. Jerry Simms with this acquisition has improved the look and function of the neighborhood and increased the property value of the existing structures.
Jerry Simms also introduced simulcast online broadcasting of the daily races and stakes at Turf Paradise. People can now place OTBs on the Turf Paradise website as well as get daily race results, schedules, and other horse racing information.
However, the Turf Paradise improvement for which Jerry Simms is arguably most appreciated for is the creation of a state-of-the-art equine therapy pool for exclusive use by the Turf Paradise racehorses and their owners. This pool alone draws dozens of racehorse owners from across the country to Turf Paradise. It has changed the way that owners and trainers exercise and rehabilitate their thoroughbred and quarter racehorses.
Turf Paradise also boasts facilities like state-of-the-art horse barns, visitors facilities, and other accommodations that continue to make it one of the state’s biggest tourist draws. With its daily races and simulcast broadcasts that are aired online and across the globe, Turf Paradise and its owner Jerry Simms have become synonymous with premier horse racing.
It also has propelled Jerry Simms into one of the most recognized names in the horse racing industry. Thanks to his leadership, Turf Paradise has enjoyed stable financial health since 2004. The future for Turf Paradise under the leadership of Jerry Simms is likewise predicted to be stable if not more lucrative than it is right now.
During the off-season, Turf Paradise is used as a venue for motorcycle racing. Jerry Simms also regularly hosts special events like fundraisers and children’s days. Jerry Simms is very involved in the local charity scene and particularly likes to help bring awareness and funds to children’s organizations.
When Jerry Simms opens the doors to the area’s youngest of residents, Jerry Simms offers fun activities like pony rides and feeding the horses. Children can also meet the jockeys and owners of the Turf Paradise.