|Horses break at the 2013 Martinsville Agricultural Fair.|
|Schwarzkoph leads the field the first time by. Martinsville Agricultural Fair, 2013.|
|Horses round the clubhouse turn at the Cumberland County Fair in Greenup.|
|Bushler and Paddle Wheel Mary hook up at the 2013 Effingham County Fair in Altamont, IL.|
All of this makes for quite an exciting day in Martinsville, Illinois. The Illinois County Fair Circuit makes six stops over the course of the summer, beginning in June at McLeansboro and ending in August at Pana. The meet is mainly for state-bred Thoroughbreds, though there’s usually one Quarter Horse race on the card, as well as an all-breed “pony” race, and if you’re lucky, one for mules. The Thoroughbreds can compete in the Old National Road Derby, a tournament of three races, like a county fair Triple Crown. The first leg is at the Martinsville Agricultural Fair, the second at the Clark County Fair in Marshall, and the third is in Greenup at the Cumberland County Fair. The winner of two legs gets a bonus of $600, and if the same horse should win all three, he gets $1,200.
|Schwarzkoph, with Carl Dodd up, and Extrella Royal Rap and Noah Cruz round the final turn at the Effingham Co Fair.|
If you’re only interested in top-class Thoroughbred racing, this is not the place for you. These horses will never see Churchill Downs, Saratoga, or Santa Anita. Most of the horses are home-bred and home-trained. A couple might be ridden by both. But the fair circuit isn’t about knocking heads with the country’s best horses. It’s about enjoying a small-town summer fair and simply watching the races. (And, God willing, sipping on a lemon shake-up.) There are prizes for the winners, even trophies, but it boils down to the most fundamental, age-old adage:
“My horse is faster than yours.”
“Oh really? Prove it.”
|Scenic farms provide the backdrop at the Martinsville Agricultural Fair.|
The Martinsville Agricultural Fair races run today, July 11th starting at 1pm. For more dates and times, click on the link below.