Projections for the opening of the Desert Park Exhibition Society horse races were off.
Organizers expected between 500 to 800 spectators, but just over 1,800 packed the Osoyoos facility.
“We were very fortunate,” said president Carol Youngberg. “We had just an overwhelming, unprojected, great crowd.”
Youngberg said it was unbelievable and admitted they were unprepared to serve that many patrons.
“We were given all sorts of information from other tracks and that’s the only way we could judge what participation would be,” she explained. “We could have done things completely different had we ever thought that that was going to be the attendance.”
The right changes will be made for the Aug.31 race day. The good news for the society Youngberg said is they received rave reviews and appreciation.
“The whole town of Osoyoos pulled together to put on one fantastic day of horse racing,” she said.
Youngberg credited the efforts of the 120 volunteers and the community support.
The next race will have a wine derby theme in what Youngberg describes as a salute to wineries in the area.
“Hopefully the wineries will sponsor the races and come with their product and put on a show for the people,” she said.
Youngberg was able to watch a few races, including the AQHA/Bank of America Bonus Challenge with a purse of $15,000. She said they were exciting and that is what people come to see. The race day began with Savarin taking the $3,000 purse in the two-year-olds category. Savarin is bred by Armstrong’s Robert and Julie White, who had three of the four entries in the first race.
“The quality of the horses was excellent and included stars like Woom Broom Express and the wonderful campaigner Spirit Bear,” said Julie.
As for the organizing of the opening, White said she was impressed with the huge number of volunteers that turned out and their enthusiasm.