AIKEN, SC -- For 78 years, the Aiken Trials have been taking place at the Aiken Training Track. With just about every sporting event being postponed or cancelled over the last few days, having one right in our back yard may seem out of place.
Even with Aiken County halting all high school sports, the horses were ready to go for today's trials. Just about any other event with spectators has been shut down, making this one of the few events going on. Track officials did meet with Aiken's mayor ahead of the race to make sure everything was still good to go. The decision ultimately came down to the track itself and the track upped it's sanitary efforts and decided to go forward.
"If we had been told 'do not have your event,' we would have stopped it. But as far as directives from the governor or the city, it was 'go ahead, it's up to you. We're not stopping you,' so we analyzed the pros and cons. We took all steps to make it as hygenic as you possibly can at a horse event." said track President Bill Gutfarb.
The turnout had to be near what the track had hoped to see. The scene at the racetrack felt like a college football tailgate: plenty of college tents, smokers, and good eats to go around. That didn't mean that converns over the coronavirus weren't still hanging about. The opportunity cost of staying in versus enjoying the nice weather outweighted the risk in the mind of some.
"I thought about it, but like it didn't keep me out. It doesn't really effect people my age, but i really enjoyed my time here. I'm really glad i came out overall." said Justin Von Erden.
The next horse event in Aiken, the Aike Spring Steeplechase, is still expected to happen. That takes place at Aiken Horse Park Saturday, May 21st.