Aiken County, S.C. -
The horses are training in every weather condition all year round to prepare for the Aiken Trials. This set of races is the first leg of the Aiken Triple Crown held over three weeks.
More than 10,000 people came out to see the races and enjoy fun with family and friends. People had tailgates spread along the race lines, and soaked up the sun with games and of course tons of food.
“Cooking, beer, good times,” said Bond Calloway.
The temperatures on the fryers and grills were set high to kick off the first weekend of the Aiken Triple Crown—the Aiken Trials.
Bond Calloway went to the races to cook out and enjoy the tailgating atmosphere.
But there were some like Dennis Simpson who preferred to wait early on the sidelines and meditate on the rich history of the 72nd year of the races, and those who have moved up.
“Palice Malice won the Belmont Stakes and won a big race in Saratoga, and he just won another recent race for 4 year-olds, so there is a lot of interest in this nationally acclaimed Dogwood Stables,” said Simpson.
There were younger faces just waiting to get in on the action.
“It’s actually my first time, and I’m really happy I’m here because it’s my first time.”
“I think it’s just interesting to be here to see all the different people.”
But when it came down to it, all eyes were on the running horses.
The Aiken Trials consist of six races, five races for younger horses who haven’t won, and one race for older horses who have won.
Spectators could watch the horses warm up before they took the stage.
But it’s not just the horses that get ready for the race, the jockeys train 365 days a year.
The hardest part: “The commitment, you definitely have to be committed to it,” said Constance Woodard.
Whether it was a bet, or a family member or friend, cheers rang out for all the horses as they trotted to finish line.
At the end of the day, it was about the South Carolina tradition and delighting in the beautiful horses.
The next leg of the Aiken Triple Crown is Steeplechase, which takes place next Saturday at the Aiken Training Track. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. and the day of general admission tickets are $35.