The excitement of racing under saddle at New York State county fairs will continue this summer and looks to be bigger than ever. RUS New York, an organization that helps promote the sport and the versatility of Standardbreds, is excited to announce its sixth fair series.
Races will begin on Sunday (June 16) at Goshen Historic Track and concludes with the final at Monticello Raceway on Thursday (Sept. 5).
Thanks to the series’ flagship sponsor, the New York Sire Stakes, at least 10 race legs will be held with a culmination of a final race. Points earned along the way will determine final entries.
“The goal is to have higher purses this year in hopes of getting more participation,” said RUS NY President Michelle Miller. “We have worked hard at getting sponsorships and conducting fundraisers to try and get funds where we can confidently provide purses that are more comparable to the harness program. We want to get more horses on the track.”
Miller said there is another significant incentive to boost participation this season. She said three sponsors, Oneida Veterinary Associates, PLLC, Tioga and Vernon Downs, pulled together to offer a $4,000 rider award challenge and funds will be distributed based on points earned at the end of the series. Points will be awarded to riders regardless of horse(s) ridden throughout the series.
“Riders will need to participate in at least five races leading up to the final to qualify so it will hopefully help fill fields,” said Miller. “We cannot thank these sponsors enough for providing this opportunity to our riders because owners get purse money so this may help riders get involved and cover costs.”
More information about the challenge will be released by the group.
The series will be for trotters only this year as it has been in the past, according to Miller.
“The hope is to offer some pace races this year since the USTA officially approved a rule allowing this,” Miller said. “We could eventually possibly have races with horses of both gaits, chose to do a separate series or continue to offer just pace races on their own; we just have to figure out what will work best. We hope to use this season to see how much interest there will be. It will also give those not yet licensed who want to get involved time to do so and become members of our organization. Having more races means more funds which takes more manpower.”
Fair Series conditions can be found on the RUS NY website, rus-newyork.com. Membership is free and open to anyone as being a resident of New York is not a requirement. For more information visit, www.rus-newyork.com/membership.html.
RUS New York is also working on organizing some demonstrations to promote the versatility of the breed and have some fairs on board to add to the race days. The group’s website is the best resource for event dates and information.
Official dates and locations for the series are as follows:
• Sunday (June 16-Goshen Historic Track (1 p.m. post)
• Thursday (June 20)-Afton Fair (noon post)
• Tuesday (July 16)-“Little World’s Fair” in Hemlock (noon post)
• Tuesday (July 23)-Oneida County in Boonville (11 a.m. post)
• Tuesday (July 30-Otsego County Fair in Morris (noon post)
• Monday (Aug. 5)-Tioga County in Owego (noon post)
• Tuesday (Aug. 6)-Schoharie County Sunshine Fair in Cobleskill (noon post)
• Monday (Aug. 12)-Wayne County in Palmyra (noon post)
• Tuesday (Aug. 13)-Steuben County in Bath (noon post)
• Tuesday (Aug. 20)-Tompkins County in Trumansburg (noon post)
RUS New York is offering a sponsorship opportunity that will allow supporters to be a part of the winning experience. For $300 a sponsor can get a business logo or saying on a cooler and will be invited to present it as an award to each fair winner. The group needs at least a three-week notice to make this happen so if interested contact Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sponsors can advertise in every fair program for as little as $200. There is a June 1 deadline for maximum sponsorship benefits. For other sponsorship opportunities contact Cathy Gearwar at email@example.com or by phone at 802.537.2145. A PayPal account has been set up where people can make secure donations. To learn more, visit www.rus-newyork.com/become-a-sponsor.html.
Other ways to support the group is donations such as tickets to places and events, gift certificates, gift baskets and other items that can be used to raise money at various fundraising events.