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The Race is On! Horses back on the track in Ft. Pierre


News Staff - October 1, 2020

Ft. PIERRE, SD - A colorful piece of South Dakota history – a tradition dating to World War II – resumes its place as ‘the sport of kings,’ this weekend.

The 2020 Ft. Pierre horse races will be held over one weekend in October, Saturday and Sunday, October 3-4, and will feature quarter horse and thoroughbred races.

The Stanley Co. Fairgrounds will host 15 races with $125,000 in purse money and incentives lasting over two afternoons, beginning at 1 pm both days.  The races include three South Dakota Bred Quarter Horse Futurities for two-, three- and four-year-olds, each with a purse of $12,500.

Since 1948, racing in Ft. Pierre and Aberdeen were the kick off to spring each year in the regional racing world. Multiple consecutive days and weekends of racing anchored the events that also raced in Rapid City and Park Jefferson in North Sioux City before moving on to other races around the country. According to long-time track manager Shane Kramme, there are storied riders and trainers who came out of Ft. Pierre.

Names like Hall of Fame jockey Earl Sande, a Groton, SD native, who rode Gallant Fox to the Triple Crown in 1930.  His career included winning the Belmont Stakes five times and the Kentucky Derby three times. He was also a successful trainer.

Or another Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott, a Mobridge, SD native, who won his first Kentucky Derby last year. Another well-known name in racing is Keith Asmussen, born in Gettysburg, SD, and who would later become Mott’s first boss. Keith’s wife, Marilyn, a stakes-winning trainer in her own right, is also from Mobridge. 

And who was giving jockey Keith Asmussen a leg up for many of his Quarter Horse wins in South Dakota back in the 1960s? None other than D. Wayne Lukas, one of the most successful trainers in the last half century, capped off by four Kentucky Derby triumphs.

The move to host races in late fall has put a particularly unique spin on the Ft. Pierre track. Kramme says that racing at the last event of the season attracts a different clientele. And more finished horses.

Remarkable stories, remarkable personalities, remarkable horses. The legend continues this weekend in Ft. Pierre.



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