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Horse Racing at the York Fair

Racing was featured at the York Fair for many years. It was so popular in 1867 that the races rained out the last day of the fair were held some days later in front of a sizable crowd. See below for a detailed account of the excitement from the October 15, 1867 York Gazette. Note that the horses were both owned and driven by York area people.

In consequence of the inclement weather, the trotting which was to have come off under the auspices of the York Trotting Association during the last day of the Fair was postponed until Saturday evening last. The weather was highly favorable, and the track in an excellent condition. A considerable number of spectators were attracted to the grounds, and everything passed off in a satisfactory manner, except that a slight accident happened during the last race, by which Mr. Emanuel King was thrown from his sulky, by being accidently run into by a skeleton wagon. He, fortunately, was not much injured.
The first race was for a purse of $20, between Diller’s iron grey horse “Frank” and Dr. Heiges’ chestnut sorrel “Claude.” It was won by the latter, the grey having been distanced on the first heat. Time 3.13.
The next trot (for a purse of $30) was between E. King’s dappled bay “Frank,” and Diller’s “Grey Eagle.” This was rather closely contested, but was won by the latter in two straight heats–time, 3.08 1/2 and 2.58.
The next was a pacing match between Furnbaugh’s grey from Maryland, and Trafford’s bay bob from Chanceford Twp., for a purse of $40. The first heat, on account of some alleged violation of the rules of the association was awarded to the bob–time 2.53. The other two heats were won by the grey in 2.45 and 2.47.
The last race was a trot between Keech & Grey’s grey “Caldwell Bitters,” Eli Kendig’s brown “Rocket,” and Palmer & Lenhart’s sorrel stallion “Black Hawk Warrior,” for a purse of $60. The sorrel stallion was distanced the first heat, and withdrawn from the track. The grey won in two heats–time 2.57 and 2.55.
Both of Diller’s horses were driven by W. Myers; the Maryland grey and Keech & Grey’s grey by Martin Quinn’ King’s bay by th owner, who also drove Palmer’s stallion; Trafford’s bob by the owner; Dr. Heiges’ sorrel by J. M. Heiges; and Kendig’s brown by Geo. Ross.

A skeleton wagon, referred to above, was similar to a sulky for the driver, only it had four wheels instead of two.
Click here for an illustration of a skeleton wagon.
Click the links below for more on York Fair horse racing.
Sportsmanship stressed in 1929.
Racing accidents in 1959.
Click here for current York Fair harness racing.
Click the links below for more York Fair related posts.
What else went on at the 1867 fair.
Photos win awards at fair.
Fairgoers stranded.