The 131st Chautauqua County Fair played host to the New York Sire Stakes harness horse racing Monday afternoon at the Budweiser Grandstand. Young horses and their drivers raced around the track as onlookers watched to see if they picked the winner.
Harness racing is a sport in which horses pull a two-wheeled sulky in which their drivers are seated. Drivers control their respective horses from the sulky as they make their way around the track. Horses in the age range of 2 to 3 years old partook in the races.
Several challenges face drivers as they race their horses - all stemming from the horses' youth. For some horses, it was their very first race.
OBSERVER Photo by Jimmy McCarthy
A driver and his horse race around the track during Monday’s NY Sire Stake horse harness race at the Budweiser Grandstand.
"This will only be his second start this year," trainer and driver of Dream Crazed, William Bell, said. "Last year, he won four times as a 2 year old."
When asked whether horses keep moving up if they keep winning, Bell responded by saying, "Not really. The older horses do. These colts can stay in races for 2 year olds and 3 year olds. They also stay in their own respective class."
Bell, from Dorset, Ohio, took part in the 3-year-old Colts and Geldings Old Trot. His family watched as he and his horse made their way around the track. Several other families were in attendance as they tended to their horses coming off the track after races.
They also watched them gallop around the track.
Other races that took place were 2-year-old New York County Old Filly and Old Filly Pace, along with 3-year-old Old Pace and Old Filly Pace. Race officials included Richard Mays as presiding judge, Don Crockett as the timer, and Ryan Scully as the play-by-play announcer.
Winner of the 3-year-old Old Filly Trot and jockey of Roxee Girl, Drew Monti commented on the race.
"The horse performed very good," Monti said. "The race was very tight and very good."
Roxee Girl posted a final time of 2 minutes and 10 seconds. Winning purse of the race was $1,850.
Winner of the 2-year-old Filly was Dreamsteeler driven by Douglas Ackley. Dreamsteeler is four for four in her early career. Sanskrit, also driven by Ackley, won the 2-year-old trot. Sanskrit's win at the track counts for her fourth win out of five starts.
DJ's Shadow's jockey, James Dunn of Florida, came off the track a winner of a nose-to-nose 2-year-old Filly Pace. As he exited the track, he said, "That was stressful."
The skies began to turn dark and a strike of lightning could be seen afar once race number six ended, but the system blew over. All 11 races were successfully completed.
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