In the mid-1960s, real estate developer Stephen A. Calder envisioned summertime horse racing in Florida; in 1965, on the advice of Mr. Calder, the Florida Legislature approved a bill allowing for it. In 1970, Stephen Calder received a permit for summertime racing but the meet was run at Tropical Park because construction was not complete at Calder. On May 6, 1971 Calder Race Course held its first day of racing.
In January 1999, Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) purchased Calder Race Course for approximately $86 million. In the first years of the new century the track introduced the "Florida Million" and the "Summit of Speed". After head-to-head racing between Calder and nearby Gulfstream Park in 2013 and 2014, CDI and the Stronach Group announced an agreement where the Stronach Group would manage Calder's racing operations, and CDI would operate the Calder Casino. After the agreement, Gulfstream announced it would operate a two-month meet at Calder in the fall under the name Gulfstream Park West. Under the changes, the track's code for official racing programs was changed from CRC to GPW.
In April 2015, CDI demolished approximately 1,400 stalls in an area marked for non-racing commercial re-development. In July 2015, Gulfstream Park was informed that the Calder grandstand – owned by CDI – will not be open to the public for the 2015 Gulfstream Park West meet except for racing officials, and that the seven-story structure would be demolished once the meet has concluded. Demolition was completed in October 2016 and The Stronach Group recommended everyone watch and wager at Gulfstream Park.
The length of the main track is one-mile (1.6 km) with 1/4 and 7/8 chutes. Surface is 12-inch sand and marl (clay) base with 4.5 inches of sand and marl cushion. The turf course is 7/8 mile with a 1/4-mile chute. The surface is Tifton #419 Bermuda grass.