At 1:05 this afternoon, three long months after the last race in Maryland, two year-old maiden fillies will face off in a four furlong sprint — and renew a tradition that dates back 125 years: racing at the state fair at Timonium.
Once 40 days, the Timonium meeting is now merely a blink-and-you-miss-it seven day affair. And the two stakes that once punctuated the meet — the Alma North and the Taking Risks — are no more. In fact, most of the racing will be cheap, and it
will be contested under oddball circumstances: four furlong sprints, 1 1/16 miles around three turns.
It’ll also be about as much fun as you’ll have at a racetrack anywhere. The ferris wheel looms in the background, a nice backdrop to win photos. The smell of all things fried wafts through the air. And a boozy, jovial crowd will fill the grandstand. loosing a big cheer when the horses turn for home, celebrating their victories with gusto, salving their defeats with, well, more beer.
Blog pal Kevin Martin checked out the Big T a couple of years ago (here), and we agreed then that racing had lost something valuable with the demise of the fair meets. Timonium — once part of a network of Maryland fairs holding racing — now is the only fair meet contested east of the Mississippi.
It’s racing as it once was, and for Maryland’s horsemen, home again after a three-month summer break, there’s no place like it.