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York Fair Horse Racing Thrives in 2009

Boy, was I wrong when I thought there were no longer horse races at the York Fair! Harness racing is scheduled on two exciting days for 2009. The first session will be Monday, September 14th at 6 p.m. and the second on Tuesday, September 15 at 10:30 a.m. Best of all–the races, which can last from three to three and a half hours each day, are included in your fair admission, with no additional charge.
Previous posts were about York Fair horse races in the 1860s, the 1920s, and the 1950s. I am glad to hear the long tradition of York Fair racing is being carried on.
I learned a lot from a conversation with Don Young, the York Fair Racing Secretary. He said that last year between 120 and 130 horses participated. There are 12 to 15 heats, or dashes, on each of the two days, depending on how many horses are entered. (Above a certain number, the field is split, resulting in additional dashes.)
There are two classes of racing each day: Quaker State and PA Sire Stakes with purses paid out for each. Two-year-olds race on Monday evening and three-year-olds on Tuesday.

More information on Pennsylvania harness racing can be found through the PA Racing page on the PA Department of Agriculture web site. Scroll down to 2009 Fair Harness Racing Guide to download a colorful PDF brochure that tells about each fair or similar event with harness racing and details on the rules and purses. As the brochure says, “the racing has never been better” than currently at the Pennsylvania fairs. The guide lists 20 different sessions of racing in 16 different counties for 2009, each lasting from one to four days. Most are at least two days, like the York Fair.
I won’t be able to attend either of the racing days at the York Fair this year because of previous commitments, but I plan to be there next year to see this part of our local history being carried over into the present time.