While we wait (and wait, and wait) for Michigan racing to right the ship or sink, I’d like to share a small piece of the state’s racing history I managed to snag on eBay.
As mentioned in a previous post, a pair of racing programs from the 1924 Alpena County Fair were offered on the online auction website, and I was the winning bidder.
Considering the age and use of the programs, they are in very good condition. The programs consist of a single piece of heavy stock paper folded down the middle to resemble a book. I believe elementary school students call this “hamburger style”.
Inside the programs are the entries for four races. Two are clearly marked pace events. The other two are a tad more ambiguous. The “County Race” and “Free For All Run” are race conditions I am unfamiliar with – harness or otherwise.
The highest published purse on the day’s card was a whopping $300. Using the Inflation Calculator, that purse would be equal to about $3,791.48 at last year’s rates. For a fair circuit track in rural northeast Michigan, that’s not bad at all.
Period-specific idiosyncrasies are plentiful in the programs. One can hardly argue with a 35-cent lunch or a men’s suit for $28.50. The two and three-digit phone numbers must have been easy to memorize, as well, when one needed to call the Studebaker Motor Cars dealer or the local radio shop.
For less than five bucks, these programs provided an interesting snapshot of the state’s fair racing scene, and that of its surrounding community. It was definitely worth the purchase, and I am happy to share it with my readers.
Today, the number of county fairs in Michigan still hosting harness racing is dwindling, but they are still out there. I have yet to attend any of the state’s fair races, but I intend to do something about that this summer – especially if it is my only option.
If any readers have any stories or fond recollections of racing on Michigan’s fair circuit, they are more than welcome to share them.
Behind the jump are photos of the racing program from the 1924 Alpena County Fair
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A Midwest Thoroughbred double feature
I have a pair of stories in the latest news cycle of The Midwest Thoroughbred magazine.
The print edition features a preview story for the upcoming meet at Indiana Downs. The Shelbyville, Ind. track had a banner year in 2010, and faces the unique challenge of keeping that positive momentum going. To find out how they plan to do it, I spoke to racing secretary Raymond “Butch” Cook and trainer Randy Klopp, who is also president of the Indiana HBPA.
Click here to read my preview of the 2011 Indiana Downs meet.
On the publication’s website, I have a feature on Michigan’s breeding industry. The story discusses the impact the state’s flagging business has had on its breeding operations, and highlights five of its top stallions. To get some insight on Michigan’s breeding industry I spoke to Michigan Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association president Patti Dickinson, trainer/breeder James Jackson, McMaster Farm manager Dan Boik and breeder EJ Hubel.
Click here to read my story on Michigan’s breeding industry.
Also, if you’ll notice on page six, I have been added to the publication’s masthead as a contributing editor. I’m honored to be part of the team.
This is not the first time I have had work published in The Midwest Thoroughbred. Back in September, I interviewed jockey and trainer Richard Rettele for the magazine’s “Jockey Shorts” section.
The Midwest Thoroughbred is a fantastic publication for readers interested in horse racing in the region, and the effect its native sons and daughters have on the national scene. Though the magazine focuses its coverage on the business in Illinois and Indiana, it frequently covers topics pertaining to racing in surrounding states, including Michigan, Ohio, Iowa and Kentucky.
The publication is getting better with every issue, and is definitely worth the time to check out. And I’m not just saying that because I write for them. The feature writing is creative, entertaining and covers topics that the national publications may overlook.
I’d like to thank The Midwest Thoroughbred for having me on board, and I look forward to working together in the future.
If you like what you see, click here to subscribe to The Midwest Thoroughbred.
Filed under Commentary
Tagged as Butch Cook, Dan Boik, EJ Hubel, Indiana Downs, James Jackson, MTOBA, Patti Dickinson, Randy Klopp, Richard Rettele, The Midwest Thoroughbred