The 61st running of the Aiken Trials Saturday at the Aiken Training Track will showcase some of the most promising two-year-old horses in the area, especially in the first two races of the day.
The Carriage Parade starts at 1:30 p.m.; post time for the first race will be 2 p.m.
Aiken Training Track president Ron Stevens has seven horses entered, including four in the first two races - one for two-year-old maiden fillies, the other for two-year-old maiden colts and geldings.
"I like both of my fillies in the first race," Stevens said of Unnamed and Desert Deed. "Some high-class fillies could come out of that race - some of the top fillies in America. That carries over to the second race, but from top to bottom, the first race has the highest-quality prospects."
Kim Baker, who has jockeyed for Stevens for about 20 years, will ride Desert Deed in the first race and Heckle in the second.
"(Baker) has probably won more races here than any other rider in Aiken," Stevens said.
Stevens' other jockey in the second race will be newcomer Sarah McMullen, of Delta, Iowa. McMullen came to Aiken in November to spend the winter working as a horse exerciser at Chime Bell Farm.
At 22, McMullen is one of the youngest jockeys in the trials and, at 5-foot-9, is also one of the tallest - male or female. Her racing debut will come aboard P. Kerney, who owner R.S. Evans named after Atlanta Falcons defensive end Patrick Kerney.
"She's a dependable, good horse woman that's earned a chance to ride and have some fun," Stevens said of McMullen. "She's done an excellent job with the horses."
Stonerside Stable continues to expand its influence on the Aiken racing scene. Trainer Tim Jones entered six horses in the trials, the most ever for Stonerside, including five in the first two races.
"I'm grateful we've had good participation from trainers, as far as entering the horses," Stevens said.
No cash prizes will be awarded for race winners, but the best groomed horse in each race will receive $50, compliments of six local businesses.