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2/18/2017 - Open house welcomes public to morning at Aiken Training Track

When Jean Murawski showed up for the open house at the Aiken Training Track on Friday morning, she didn’t know she was going to get to meet one of the horses up close and personal.

But while trainer Brad Stauffer was riding past on his stable pony, All Tied Up, he stopped the gray thoroughbred right in front of Murawski and let her pet him.

Stauffer also talked to Murawski about All Tied Up, who is a former racehorse.

“He won a few times,” said Stauffer, who is the Training Track’s president. “He has a good personality, and he just started his new career a few months ago. We get on him as much as we can every day to get him to chill out. He’s learning fast.”

Murawski, who moved to Aiken recently from New Jersey, came to the open house with her daughter-in-law, Carol Ann Murawski. They both stood along the Training Track’s outside rail to get a good look at thoroughbreds while they galloped and breezed.

“I want to soak up some of Aiken’s atmosphere, and I thought this would be a good way to start,” Jean Murawski said. “It is beautiful out here, and it’s also very interesting.”

The Alison South Marketing Group sponsored the open house and provided free coffee and doughnuts to the approximately 100 people who attended.

“We want to get the public involved and let them know they can come out here anytime they want in the morning and watch these future stars train,” said Nikki Ridenour, who is the event coordinator for the Aiken Trials. “We also wanted to promote the Aiken Trials and Breakfast at the Gallops.”

Breakfast at the Gallops is scheduled for March 17 at the Training Track, and the 75th edition of the Aiken Trials will be held there March 18.

Tickets for both of those events were on sale, and commemorative 75th Aiken Trials julep cups also could be purchased for $15 apiece.

Standing on the clocker’s stand, Barry Bornstein and Jim Rhodes spoke to the open house crowd about the Training Track and thoroughbred racing in general. The topics they discussed included the importance of good grooms, handicapping and the difference between stakes, allowance and claiming races.

Both Bornstein and Rhodes are thoroughbred owners. Bornstein is Mosaic Racing Stable’s senior partner and an equine photographer. Rhodes is the vice president and managing director of Aiken Equine Rescue.

Joining them was Mosaic Racing Stable’s managing partner, Monica Driver, who talked to the open house attendees about horses while holding her Norfolk terrier, Jamie.

Bornstein told the crowd that Blue Peter, the champion 2-year-old male thoroughbred of 1948, is buried under the big live oak in the Training Track’s infield.

“There is a rumor that a couple of assistant trainers also are buried there,” Bornstein joked, and his audience laughed while enjoying the sunny weather.

Dede Biles is a general assignment reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the newspaper since January 2013. A native of Concord, N.C, she graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.