Friday, August 22, 2008

Timonium - The Saratoga of York Road

A majority of horse racing fans will tell you that the top meets, the ones they look forward to are Saratoga and Del Mar. These meets are filled with rich tradition, and top racing. Here in Maryland, the meet that gets me all excited is the Timonium (state fair) meet. It too has lots of great tradition, and an incredible atmosphere. The main difference for Timonium is that the majority of the horses are $4K and $5K claimers. The track at Timonium is a 5/8 mile bull ring, and it is only open for live and simalcast racing during the eleven days of the state fair. What makes this track so great? Well I'm glad you asked!

The first thing that you notice when you walk toward the grandstands, are the strollers. I would say that there are just as many children at the races than adults. This could be attributed to the fact that the track is connected to the state fair. You pay one entrance fee for all the rides, games, and horse racing. The future of the sport lies with all of the young kids watching "the ponies" run around. Another great future, and part of the reason that the children (and adults) love the excitement, you are almost on the center of the track. Most tracks are wide, with a gully separating the track and the fans. Timonium is a very, I mean very narrow track with a three foot chain link fences. The fans may only be fifteen feet away from the horses crossing the finish line. After crossing the line, and galloping out, the jockeys hop off there mounts in front of the grandstands, and walk through the crowd, back to the jockeys room. The kids all gather around for a pair of goggles, and a high five from the jocks.

At Timonium you will not see top caliber racing, or the best trainers, or jockeys. What you will see is horse racing at its most pure form. Horses, riders, and fans all having a lot of fun. People often use Saratoga as the bench mark for other tracks. So I close with my favorite quote.

"Timonium - the Saratoga of York Road!"


Brooklyn Backstretch said...

I lived just north of Hunt Valley for five years, and always regret that I never made it to the races at the fair. Sounds like fun...and I can still envision the lights of the fair on my right as I headed up I-83--

Ted G said...

About 100 years ago when I lived in various parts of Maryland, Timonium was AWESOME! You described it perfectly. It may not have been Saratoga or Del Mar, but it was a boatload of fun, the stands were packed and you could certainly see how Thoroughbred racing was part of the fabric of Maryland. Nice job!


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