Iowa harness season opens at What Cheer on May 30

What Cheer, IA — The 2021 Iowa harness racing season begins Sunday (May 30) on the half-mile track located at the Keokuk County Fairgrounds in What Cheer, Iowa.

The overnight conditions will bring out 2-year-old trotters and pacers beginning their racing careers along with the 3-year-olds getting set for their second season. Other conditions will allow older trotters and pacers to compete in Free for All races, along with schoolers and qualifying races.

To engage the harness racing fans, three games are played during the afternoon. The first is Pick the Winner (played on the first 10 races on the program) where the fan is given a card listing the race number and is asked to write the number of the horse he/she thinks will win the race. The card is picked up prior to the start of each race. When the race winner is declared, cards are drawn from the bucket until one having the winning horse number on it is drawn. Prizes can vary, but most often it is a $5 bill.

The second game we call Last Chance Pick 5 and is played on the last five races of a race program. Again, a fan is provided with a card on which he/she writes the number of the horse he/she expects to win beside the race number. These cards are collected before the beginning of the final five races. As the race program progresses the fans are kept informed as to how many are still in the running for the prize which is $75 (to be divided among multiple winners). If no one picks five winners, the game is carried on to the next race day and $75 is added to the prize. The game continues until a maximum of $375 (in $75 increments) is reached. Usually, the prize is won before that occurs.

The third game is called the Pick 10 where the fans attempt to pick the winners of the first 10 races on a program for a prize of $1,500. A very difficult handicapping feat.

As a consolation, the Keokuk County Fair keeps a tabulation of those participating in the Pick 10 of the number of winning horses he/she picks on each race program. We call this game the Progressive Pick 10 and it is played on the races programmed at the Keokuk County Fair in What Cheer, Iowa. At the end of the year, the top five fans picking the most winning horses divide a prize of $2,000, divided as the purse money in a race.

One of the conditions of participation in the Progressive Pick 10 is that the fan be present at the races. Needless to say, the fans keep close tabs on where they rank in the race to pick the most winners.

All the games are included in the price of the program and admission.

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