Horse racing spectators went away impressed from Desert Park Exhibition Society’s Osoyoos race track on Aug.16.
Following the thoroughbred racing, two harness exhibition races were held to gauge spectator interest.
“I loved it,” said Osoyoos resident Barb Snyder. “It’s a very majestic-type race.”
Former Desert Park Exhibition Society president John Wilkinson watched and said he hopes it returns.
“It’s so big in Ontario,” he said. “It could catch on here.”
Adrienne McLaughlin felt it would be a welcome addition that brings more diversity and attracts more people. Of the 960 spectators who came out, nearly half stayed and that impressed Harness Racing B.C. executive director Jackson Wittup, who said the races were awesome.
“The major thing was, this is the first time in B.C. for sure, that the standard breds and the thorough breds industry have raced over the same racing surface,” he said.
Most of the top drivers from Fraser Downs traveled to Osoyoos to leave a lasting impression. The timing of their arrival is perfect as their new season doesn’t begin until Sept. 4 in Cloverdale. Winning the first race was Canmore, Alta. native Travis Tracey, while Australia’s Allen Molloy took the second race. Both compete at Fraser Downs and Molloy said they accomplished what they set out to do.
“I saw a lot of smiles on peoples faces and I heard some cheers from the crowd,” he said.
Tracey felt positive on their ability to promote the sport. Desert Park Exhibition Society president Carol Youngberg said the trial run was “absolutely fabulous.”
“Most of all they liked our facility and hopefully if all the cards fall right, be able to work them into our entertainment schedule for 2015,” she said. “I think it will be looked at very seriously.”
As for their season, Younberg said it went very well Saturday, while the June 14 races attracted about 850 spectators.
“It’s popular,” said Youngberg. “Other people are talking in the valley to upgrade their venues to create a circuit, which is important.”