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Standardbred Harness Racing Horses, Raceway fun to bet

Updated on January 1, 2012

I must admit I am an addict. My addiction started many many years ago and it is still as bad as ever. It all starts when the music comes from the speakers telling it is post parade time. I'll be checking my horse up and handing the lines to the driver and here we go again.

It starts with sweaty palms and beating heart and little twinkling hope that my horse just might win. This happens to me still after sending horses to the race hundreds of times. Yes, I'm an addict. I am absolutely crazy about harness racing.

There is no better feeling than to watch the horse you take care day after day flying past other horses on a race track. Even when you have a bad day it was still a great day because you got to spend it on a racetrack with horses. Just to be around them makes me feel like I'm blessed.

So WHAT exactly is harness racing? I've learned that normal human being has no clue what is the difference between a thoroughbred and a standardbred. These horses I've been handling pretty much all my life are called standardbreds. Their job is to carry a racebike (sulky) behind them and over here in US either trot or pace as fast as they can.

Standardbreds are not ridden in the competition and they are not allowed to gallop on a race. This is the biggest difference between harness racing and thoroughbred racing. Standardbreds will start the race from behind the moving starting gate, not standing like thoroughbreds. I think it takes more skill from a trainer to train a standarbred because you have to have them balanced by shoeing to either trot or pace as fluently as they can. There is tens of different shoes to choose from and shoeing a trotter is a skill that only the best blacksmiths can handle.

If you have never been on a racetrack watching harness racing, don't be shy about coming over. This is not a sport "for the Kings", more like working man hobby. It is quite cheap to get in, most cases you buy a ticket and a race program for under $10. You don't need to be a gambler to come in and get close to these magnificent horses. It still takes my breath away to watch the best ones flying home every race. The most beautiful sight to watch!

Just for the fun you could pick a horse you like from the post parade or simply by picking a name. Cheapest ticket you can buy will cost you $2. You can even choose if you believe horse will win, be first or second, or in any position on the top three. There is many other ways you can gamble on the track and race program explains your choices pretty well.

Most grandstands have great restaurants, if you want to you can sit down and watch the races from there with a little different (more rewarding!) dining experience for sure. Why not take your date to the track one day! Or just grab a slice of pizza or a hot dog from the snack bar between the races. You can make it as formal or unformal as you like.

I'm not a gambler and I've spent more time "behind the scenes" caring for these horses before and after the race. It takes a lot of work to harness your horse with all the proper equipment and to get the horse warmed up before the race and washed and blanketed and walked after the race. These horses race rain or shine. Only if it gets extremely cold or it snows so heavily, that roads are too bad to horses to ship in from the farms, are races canceled.

To me it has been sad to see over the years how the attendance is declining in every harness track. Gamblers don't bother showing up because they can bet online from their homes. Owners don't show up because they can watch their horses racing on TV or computer. I cannot believe that there is no interest by the public to come to the grandstands and to be so close to these horses that you can actually smell them.

When is the last time you visited your closest race track? Have you ever? I'm not talking about those casinos behind many racetracks today, I'm talking about the grandstand, the thundering hooves, the sweaty horses and the smiles from the winning drivers. Those are things you cannot feel through the computer screen!

I'm hoping this article would get at least one person to think about taking his family (or just himself) to the racetrack one day. It is the experience not to be compared with anything else. Even if your horse did not win I'm betting you still had a winning experience!

Have you been at the racetrack?

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    • Barbsbitsnpieces profile image

      Barbara Anne Helberg 6 years ago from Napoleon, Henry County, Ohio, USA

      @kirsib...Being from Ohio, I'm a Little Brown Jug (Delaware, Ohio) nut. It's the premier pacing event of the sport, which I've attended twice.

      I write about harness racing on several Internet sites.

    • profile image

      Donna 6 years ago

      If you don't mind I would like to add my link to my Comment thanks

    • profile image

      Donna 6 years ago

      I think your article was great and assume you own racehorses. I also own standardbred horses and currently race at Monticello Raceway in upstate New York. I believe the racetracks like Yonkers and so many other tracks (not all) have actually hurt the sport with there casino's. I have added a blog to my website and will be writing in detail on that subject, maybe you could check it out when I publish it. Thanks and good luck at the races.