Growing up on a small horse farm in the mountains of Maryland, my family and I often went on trail rides, competed in local horse shows and rode in the Fourth of July parade. Naturally, I’ve always had a passion for horse races, especially the Triple Crown. Harness racing has been described as one of the world’s most thrilling sports, and for good reason. There is nothing like the beauty of a standardbred horse thundering down the stretch to the finish line. Enthusiasm for the sport is shared by horse lovers, fans and gamblers alike, and those looking for live racing excitement can find it starting October 4 in Swartz Creek when the season begins at Sports Creek Raceway.
“Horses come from all over the state to race,” said the general manager, Chris Locking, “and it’s very competitive.” Each horse has a following of people who come to cheer just for him. Harness racing is live at the Sports Creek track on Friday and Saturday nights, from 7-11pm through December 31. There are 16 races and nine horses usually run in each race.
Locking describes an evening at Sports Creek Raceway as “a great entertainment package at a very reasonable price.” It’s also family oriented and costs a lot less than going to a movie. “Bring the kids for a hot dog in the Grandstand,” he said, “and take part in the excitement!” The races can be viewed from the Grandstand or the Clubhouse, and the Sky Box is also available for private gatherings. Of course, another draw is the chance to win a little money. “We’d love to see everyone win,” laughed Locking, because unlike a casino, the race track’s pay is not determined by a person’s wins or losses. “We want our visitors to win; we get the same whether they’re lucky or not,” he explained.
At Sports Creek, the biggest days are of course the Triple Crown race events: the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes, which are simulcast at the track. “We pack the house for the Kentucky Derby!” Locking exclaimed. The raceway simulcasts the best of thoroughbred and harness racing from around the world, seven days a week. Sports Creek recently revamped its bank of televisions in the lounge with the addition of 100 flat-screens for more enjoyable viewing. The Clubhouse Restaurant offers great food according to many fans, and Locking says the all-you-care-to-eat buffet is also quite popular. Additionally, concession food and drinks are available in the Grandstand.
If you’ve never experienced the excitement at Sports Creek Raceway, Locking says, “Come out and see what we’re all about!”