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3/18/2017 - Crowds come out to celebrate 75th running of the Aiken Trials

A large crowd of people braved the rainy, chilly weather Saturday to come out to be part of the 75th running Aiken Trials.

“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” said Terry Lowman, of Aiken. “Horse racing is what this town is all about.”

Lowman said he attends each of the events of the Triple Crown, but the Aiken Trials is his favorite.

“I’m really a big fan of the Aiken Trials because it is smaller than the Steeplechase, which can just get crazy,” Lowman said. “The Aiken Trials is horse races for the true fans who love the sport. Plus, this is the type of event you can’t see in other places. You have to be right here to see it.”

Horse racing fans continued the long-standing tradition of tailgating with large spreads of food and drinks.

Aiken residents Lois Shank, Pat Crawford and Ann LeMay all came to the event together with the Women of Woodside.

Shank said this was her 28th year in a row attending the Aiken Trials, and Crawford said she has attended the event on and off since she was little a girl. LeMay admitted that this was her first time seeing the races.

“I moved to Aiken years ago, but my husband just didn’t really like horses – so we never came,” LeMay said. “Now I’m finally here with my group and having a great time.”

Besides the horse races, attendees also witnessed several presentations in between races.

Dogwood Stable founder Cot Campbell was inducted into the Training Track’s Ambassador Club and he was given a glass plaque.

“This is just wonderful,” Campbell said. “I’m honored.”

Spectators also cheered wildly Saturday for the unveiling of the official State of South Carolina historical marker for the Training Track.

The front of the new historical marker read: “In 1941 a group including Pete Bostwick, Mrs. Ambrose Clark, and Skiddy von Stade Sr. organized to build the Aiken Training Track (ATT) on 75 acres that included parts of the Post and Mead polo fields. Frank Phelps designed the one mile oval track, which was modeled after Keeneland Race Track in Lexington, (Kentucky). The purpose of constructing the ATT was to have a facility for the training of Thoroughbred race horses.”

Aiken resident Roy Boone said he thought the new historical marker was a great addition.

“This marker really signifies the importance of this training track and what it means to the people of Aiken,” Boone said.

Tripp Girardeau is the crime and courts reporter with the Aiken Standard. Follow him on Twitter at @trippgirardeau.