Aiken Trials open Triple Crown events

Trio of horse events starts March 17

MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
Mikki Fincher rides Friscan to victory in the second race at the 2011 Aiken Trials.
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It’s March, which means it’s time for the Aiken Triple Crown.

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In between races, Gracie Sims (left), 6, and Sophie Owens, 7, relax in some soft grass at the Aiken Training Track, where the 70th Aiken Trials will be held March 17.   MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/FILE
In between races, Gracie Sims (left), 6, and Sophie Owens, 7, relax in some soft grass at the Aiken Training Track, where the 70th Aiken Trials will be held March 17.

The three events that make up the Triple Crown are the Aiken Trials – in its 70th running – the Aiken Steeplechase, and the Pacers and Polo Competition.

Ron Stevens, the president of the Aiken Training Track, said he has always been passionate about horses and is excited about the upcoming events.

“I’ve been involved with the Aiken Training Track for about 25 years now, and I can say it’s been a lot of fun. Dozens of horses have trained here, and some have even gone off to compete in the Kentucky Derby,” he said. “This is a good place to start because it’s a great training ground for horses.”

The Trials will take place Saturday, March 17, at the Aiken Training Track, 538 Two Notch Road SE. Gates open at 10 a.m., opening ceremonies are at 1 p.m., with the carriage parade immediately afterward, and the first race will be at 2 p.m.

Tickets in advance cost $10, along with a $10 parking charge per vehicle. At the gate, tickets cost $15, along with a $15 parking charge per vehicle.

The event also includes an infield tent party, which will feature heavy hors d’oeuvres and an open bar. For more information, call (803) 648-4631 or e-mail
aikentt@bellsouth.net.

THE SPRING STEEPLECHASE will continue its 46-year tradition on March 24 at the track. Gates open at 9:30 a.m. The first of six races is at 1 p.m., followed by a carriage parade at 1:15 p.m. The last race will be at 3:30 p.m. Tickets cost $15 in advance and $20 at the gate. Children ages 6 and younger are admitted for free.

Because of the popularity of the spring races, there is no drive-in race-day parking. A limited number of $30 infield parking passes were sold on a first-come, first-served basis starting Monday at the Aiken Steeplechase office.

Though Stevens’ passion became his profession, there are a lot of people who simply enjoy being at the events.

“People love to come out,” Stevens said. “Everyone has fun tailgating with their children and hanging out at the track.”

THE PACERS AND POLO competition will be March 31 at the Powder House Polo Field on Powder House Road. Gates open at 10:30 a.m., with the first event at 1 p.m.

Tickets for adults are $8 in advance and $10 at the gate, and children’s tickets are $5. Tickets can be purchased online at tixonline.com or by calling (803) 278-4849. Reserved first-row parking is $100, which includes four tickets and programs.

Call Tim Hall at (803) 641-3331 for more information on reserved parking.

Call Randy Warrick at (803) 641-3406 for other event-related information, including places where tickets may be purchased.

Stephen Hale, a longtime partaker of these events, believes the events are about more than helping trainers and horses to develop.

“I grew up in Aiken and lived walking distance from the track,” Hale said. “Growing up around it, I just learned to love watching (the horses) run.

‘‘It’s definitely a learning experience for the horse and trainer because it teaches you not only how to move with your horse but prepares you for bigger horse events.”

Hale and Stevens said everyone should come out and give these events a chance to capture their hearts.


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