‘It’s a family tradition’ for 80th Aiken Training Trials

Things were right on track at the Aiken Training Track on Saturday.
Published: Mar. 18, 2023 at 11:34 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - The 80th annual Aiken Training Trials took place Saturday at the Aiken Training Track.

The event dates back to 1942, when trainers wanted to give young horses the chance to race against each other. It’s now a traditional event in March for the horse community, along with two others in the triple crown.

Between horses galloping and spectators watching through their binoculars, things were right on track at the Aiken Training Track on Saturday.

The main activity was tailgating with chicken, ribs, every side dish imaginable. It was all to bring folks together for a tradition many come back to Aiken for each year.

“When we see the pollen start, then we know it’s time for the time trials,” said John Farricker.

It was no trial and error to get people out on Saturday.

“My first time here was in 1975,” said Farricker. “The people we’ve known for many years are still coming here.”

Here all eyes are on the track, itching for a spot on the fence.

“One thing that doesn’t change is the beauty of the animals,” said Farricker.

Behind the white fences, things were really sizzling.

We’ve been doing this every year probably for 20-25 years,” said Jorge Alejo. “It’s all about the food.”

Alejo cooked chicken, ribs and tortillas for his family and those around his tent at the track.

“It’s a family tradition,” said Alejo.

Traditions were all over the place, including the annual hat contest.

“My hat is handmade,” said Denise Richards. “It’s store bought a horse’s head with a straw hat and lots of silk flowers.We have the braided tail and it took about an hour.”

It took Richard even longer to get to Aiken.

“Four hours to come here to see horses,” said Richards.

It was all worth it, a similar thought felt both on and off the track.

“A good day for barbecue and a good day to have a good day,” said Alejo.

Saturday was the beginning of Aiken’s Triple Crown.

Next Saturday is the Aiken Steeple Chase, which starts at 8 a.m.