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Fan Guide

Harness Racing: Something For Everyone


Whether you love the majesty of the horses, or the thrill of gaming, or just like to relax and enjoy people watching in well-manicured surroundings, then going to the racetrack and watching harness racing is the ideal recreational activity.

Harness racing is a sport where a special breed of horses, called Standardbreds, race around a track while pulling a driver in a twowheeled cart called a “sulky.” The horses reach speeds of more than 30 mph.

To really feel the power of the horses, watch the races from the rail, which is as close as you can get to the action without actually driving in the race. It is a thrill to see the horses strive to do what they do best—go fast and win.

What makes harness racing great is that anyone can get involved. With a small investment, you can own a harness horse, and with the proper license, anyone can train or drive a Standardbred themselves! Even if you can’t afford to own or train a horse, you can get up close and personal with the horses and drivers right at the racetrack. Many tracks offer barn and paddock tours and chances to meet with the drivers—for free.

This booklet will help you better understand the exciting sport of harness racing. Be sure to check out live racing at your local racetrack, which you can find on page 28. Only then can you experience the anticipation as the horses round the turn and begin to pick up speed as the announcer exclaims, “HERE THEY COME!”

Nothing Standard About Them


The Standardbred Horse The Standardbred is a beautiful, gentle breed of horse that is affectionate and easy to work with. The breed comes in many colors, with bay and brown being the most dominant. They weigh between 800 and 1,200 lbs. and are known for their willing temperaments.

Harness racing is based in tradition and history, but the Standardbred breed continues to improve each year. It is amazing to watch these magnificent athletes set speed records not even dreamed of when horses raced in high-wheeled sulkies and a mile in two minutes was the mark of a truly great racehorse. Now horses are routinely timed in 1:50 or faster, meaning that if a horse from today raced a champion from 1900, the horse from today would win by the length of a football field!

Although it appears most of the action happens on the track, harness racing’s influence spreads far beyond that. It is a sport that employs thousands of people nationwide and contributes billions of dollars to local economies through taxes and the sale of feed, farm equipment, racing equipment, trucks, horse trailers and more.