Aiken Trials kick off Aiken Triple Crown, offer family fun

March 14, 2018 GMT

Thoroughbred racing is the focus of the 76th edition of the Aiken Trials on Saturday. But the event that kicks off the Aiken Triple Crown also will offer other forms of entertainment.

Gates open at 10 a.m. at the Aiken Training Track, 538 Two Notch Road S.E.

“We’re really trying to carry on Bill Simpson’s legacy,” said Trials Coordinator Michelle Fletcher Bulmer. “He had the idea to incorporate families more into the Trials because Aiken is such a family-friendly town.”

Simpson, who died last July, was the chairman and CEO of the Training Track. For the 75th Trials in 2017, he organized a program that included an appearance by the Wells Fargo Stagecoach and a flyover by vintage airplanes.

This year, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., youngsters will be able to enjoy a new Kids Corral play area with inflatables in the Training Track’s infield.

“We want the people to be able to bring their children and have something for them to do so they won’t be bored and just sitting around while their parents are tailgating,” Bulmer said.

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Beginning at 1:05 p.m., there will be several races conducted by a Maryland-based organization, U.S. Pony Racing. The jockeys for the small equines will be children and teenagers.

Also on the schedule are a trick-riding demonstration at noon and a Best Hat Contest at 4 p.m.

The winner of the Best Tailgate Contest winner will be announced at 2:45 p.m.

During the opening ceremony at 1 p.m., Aiken County Council Vice Chairman Andrew Siders will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” and Aiken High School’s NJROTC will present the colors.

The post time for the first of the five races for thoroughbreds is 2 p.m. Many of the horses that are entered have spent the winter at the Training Track.

There also will be a race for fox-hunting horses.

At 3:30 p.m., Simpson will be inducted into the Training Track’s Ambassador Club, which recognizes people who have supported the Training Track over the years.

The first inductee was Dogwood Stable founder Cot Campbell, who was recognized last year during the Trials.

There will be two vendors’ areas this year, one in the usual spot between the Training Track and Two Notch Road and a new one in the Training Track’s infield.

Food and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase.

Having two locations will “provide people with easier access and they won’t have to cross the track so much,” Bulmer said.

General admission tickets for the Aiken Trials are $10 each in advance and $15 each at the gate.

Children 6 years old and under are admitted free.

Parking passes are $10 apiece in advance and $15 apiece at the gate.

Tickets to the VIP Tent Party, which starts at 11 a.m. in the infield, are $75 apiece for adults and $25 each for children ages 3-12.

For more information, visit aikentrainingtrack.com or call 803-648-4631.

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The other Aiken Triple Crown events are the Aiken Spring Steeplechase and Pacers & Polo.

The Spring Steeplechase will be held March 24 at the Aiken Horse Park Foundation’s Bruce’s Field, and Pacer’s and Polo is scheduled for March 31 at the Powderhouse Polo Field.

Want to go?

WHAT: Aiken Trials

WHEN: Saturday; gates open at 10 a.m. and the first thoroughbred race is at 2 p.m.

WHERE: Aiken Training Track, 538 Two Notch Road S.E.

COST: Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the gate; parking passes are $10 in advance and $15 at the gate.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Call 803-648-4631 or visit aikentrainingtrack.com.