Horses ride historic: Aiken Training Track hosts annual Ride the Rail event | Events

Aiken natives and travelers gathered with their horses at the historic Aiken Training Track Sunday afternoon to partake in the annual Ride the Rail event.

The Aiken Training Track on Two Notch Road is the home of the Aiken Trials, the first leg of Aiken’s Triple Crown. The 79th Aiken Trials will take place on March 19 and is expected to draw over 10,000 spectators.

During the Sunday event, around 20 participants rode their horses on the famous training track. Spectators viewed the event from the Aiken Training Track apron and clockers stand.







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Spectators viewed the event from the Aiken Training Track apron and clockers stand. (Alexandra Koch/Staff)



“We’re really happy we’ve got a beautiful day to let people experience the historic Aiken Training Center,” said Bill Gutfarb, president of Aiken Training Track Inc. “There’s no other time of the year they can come on – the only people that get to ride on the track are thoroughbreds in training.”

Karen Morgan, of Aiken, participated in the Ride the Rail event, bringing along her horse, Lime Candy.







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During the Ride the Rail event, around 20 participants rode their horses on the historic Aiken Training Track, home of the Aiken Trials. (Alexandra Koch/Staff)



Morgan said the event was special to her because Lime Candy is an offspring of Limehouse, a thoroughbred that competed at the Aiken Training Track and winner of The Aiken Trained Horse of the Year award in 2005.

“I loved it,” she said. “It was just very sentimental to be here where Limehouse trained. We’ll definitely do it again next year.”

The Aiken Trained Horse of the Year award was created in 2002 to honor local thoroughbreds who had an excellent racing season by winning at least one graded stakes race. Limehouse was one of just 14 past winners.

Morgan said Lime Candy formerly raced at Finger Lakes Racetrack in Farmington, New York, and she acquired Lime Candy through the track’s aftercare program three years ago.

“She is fabulous,” Morgan said. “I just love her so much. She does eventing and dressage now – I can take her anywhere because she’s good, her personality is great.”







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Sarah Bridges rode her horse, Griffin, at the historic track Sunday afternoon. (Alexandra Koch/Staff)



Cathi Grove and Sarah Bridges also rode the track, practicing with their horses before they compete in the upcoming Aiken Trials Side Saddle Exhibition Race.

Grove brought her horse, Dabbelin N Royalty, and Bridges brought her horse, Griffin.







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Sarah Bridges (left) and Cathi Grove (right) rode the track Sunday afternoon, practicing with their horses before they compete in the upcoming Aiken Trials Side Saddle Exhibition Race. (Alexandra Koch/Staff)



In addition to locals’ excitement about the event, Gutfarb said there are financial benefits to occasionally opening the historic track to the public.

“We’ve tried to start thinking outside the box at ways to support the track through different forms of revenue,” he said.







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During the Ride the Rail event, around 20 participants rode their horses on the historic Aiken Training Track, home of the Aiken Trials. (Alexandra Koch/Staff)



The track holds the Ride the Rail event annually and hosted the Best of the West Horse Auction last October in hopes of raising money.

Gutfarb said the track has also been considered letting people rent out the field in front of the track for events.

All proceeds from the event benefitted the Aiken Training Track.

Registration open for Triple Crown Golf Classic in Aiken

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