Begun in 1942 as a way to give young horses in training the enlightening opportunity to experience every aspect of live racing, the Aiken Trials has become a time-honored tradition as the first leg of Aiken’s Triple Crown events, held annually for three consecutive Saturdays in March. The Aiken Steeplechase and Pacers & Polo make up the other two events.
The Aiken Trials draws upwards of 10,000 spectators who enjoy a day of family fun that includes extravagant tailgating spreads, assorted vendors and good-natured side betting.
There are six races on the program consisting of five races for two-year-olds and maidens (horses that may have started in a race, but have never won), running a ¼ mile to 4 ½ furlongs, and one race for older horses that have already won.
The jockeys are local exercise riders who have an afternoon in the spotlight after paying their dues exercising horses each morning (in all weather) throughout the year. Occasionally, a trainer has brought in a licensed jockey to compete; making some exciting competition for the exercise riders!