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What is Harness Racing?

Updated on June 17, 2015

Sport of the working man!

Thoroughbred racing is often recalled as the " Sport of the Kings". Harness racing on the other hand is the sport many farmers and the "regular folks" have been involved for over a century now in the United States.

Standardbreds are tough hardy horses with lots of speed stamina and grace. Racing under harness and a sulky has evolved tremendously over the decades. Early 1900s many standardbreds travelled from one state to another to showcase their speed either trotting or pacing. Match races were popular and grandstands would fill with people debating who owned the fastest horse in the country.

Early on sulkies looked more like horse carriages used to travel long distances before cars took over. Wheels were bigger and these bikes were made of wood. Today standardbreds have many different brands of sulkies, most of them are made of metal and all have standard size wheels. Trotters and pacers today go lot faster in general than they did few decades ago.


Horse and Carriage, South Main Street, Middleborough, MA, photograph, c. 1898 Sulkies and racing style have both changed significantly last decade but horses are still the  stars of the show.
Horse and Carriage, South Main Street, Middleborough, MA, photograph, c. 1898 Sulkies and racing style have both changed significantly last decade but horses are still the stars of the show. | Source
Harness racing today. Pictured is a pacer wearing pacing hopples.
Harness racing today. Pictured is a pacer wearing pacing hopples.

Go see them race!

Racing industry today struggles to stay in business due to people being able to gamble in so many other places, grandstands today are empty compared to the "Glory Days" when people celebrated their Champion horses and took prestige to see them race.

Many states today have approved the casinos being part of the harness racing tracks and some of the casino money keeps the racing going and will hopefully keep it alive even in the future.

So next time when you think of the gambling and the trip to the casino, look around and see if you can find one with harness racing! Go explore and walk outside and see these majestic animals in person. Smell their sweat, listen and feel their thundering hooves and think of your great grandparents who most likely knew lot more about the harness racing than you do.

Great horses are still traveling the country in the Grand Circuit races and it is a shame this sport is forgotten by the majority of the Americans. You can still catch a Champion horse racing and go to a real teller and place your bet and feel the excitement of the horses and drivers thriving to be the winners. So this summer make a plan to take your family or your date to the track. Or just make it a day to enjoy yourself. Horses are still racing in many areas in United States and you can make a difference and keep the tradition alive by visiting the track!

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