Sep 8th 2010 08:48 am |
You can’t help but feel upbeat when you walk into the grandstand at Timonium. Especially when you make the mistake, as I did, of parking on the wrong side of the fairgrounds and having to walk through the heart of the Maryland State Fair to reach the race track. Sure, if you have been to a carnival in the last 30 or so years, it is all very familiar. However, this jovial atmosphere as a precursor to a day at the track is positively unique.
As I settled in for my day at the races at Timonium, I understood why the fair racing circuit has burned such positive memories on racing fans. As Frank Vespe commented on my post last week, “I think racing has lost something with the demise of the fair circuits.” After spending the day at the last fair track east of the Mississippi on Saturday, I agree. A day at Timonium isn’t just another day at the track and those who have attended fair races still in operation or now forgotten will likely tell you the same thing.
I have always sensed a camaraderie among the people when visiting Maryland tracks. At a place like Laurel, where the crowds are always thin, the dividing line between those working and those watching seems non-existent. It’s no surprise then, that this same atmosphere pervaded Timonium — whether it be the friendly conversations between patrons and outriders; jockeys stopping to speak with friends and family between races; or the trainers and owners who made no pretense of their position. Sure, the quality of the racing is lacking but that doesn’t matter to the people there.
One of my favorite memories of the day was witnessing a groom, after winning one of the many bottom level claiming races on the day, greeting her horse as if he had won the Kentucky Derby. Within the Maryland racing community, a win at Timonium for owner, trainer, jockey, or a groom is a moment to celebrate, when the troubles with Maryland racing and the world can be forgotten.
The racing is limited to only two weekends annually at Timonium during the State Fair. It runs concurrently with Saratoga and Del Mar and the frantic end of the summer, but if you have the opportunity to spend a day there, I would highly recommend it. While racing at Timonium has a tradition over a century in the making, there is no telling when it might be relegated to nothing but a memory.
Here is my day at Timonium in pictures:
Back next week with more history…
THANKS FOR READING AND GOOD LUCK!