Harness Racing; the Sport that began at the County Fair

Harness Racing; the Sport that began at the County FairA driver readies for a Harness Race at the Tioga County Fair. (File Photo / Wendy Post)

Fast trotting, against the watch, in a straight-line mile began the contests. Wherever horsemen gathered, it didn’t take long for racing to begin.  

But it took wealthy investors and philanthropists to build the wonderful half-mile oval tracks that dotted the Northeast and Middle America.  

That happened in Owego in the mid-nineteenth Century when the Owego Driving Park was built. The Sport grew and grew. Betting was ever present and lead to the first, and in some States, only legalized wagering.  

But through it all, the foundation horse owners and breeders relied, and still rely, on the County Fair as the place to start that new Colt or Filly.  

That tradition continues on Opening Day at the Fair, Aug. 5. Post Time is at noon, and admission and Grandstand seating is free.  

The New York Sire Stakes will offer eight Races for two and three year old Colts and Fillies, at the Trot and Pace.  

The organizers would like to thank Tioga Downs for providing their valuable assistance to assure that visiting Horsemen find the track conditions and emergency services top notch.  

And, in a display harking back to those early years of racing, the Agricultural Society and Racing Under Saddle- New York will again present the “H. S. Mead Memorial,” where Standard Bred horses are ridden rather than driven. 

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