Jockey Jack Brown sits atop Jet Along It after winning a race at the Moffat Country Raceway, set up at the Moffat County Fairgrounds. Standing with the horse and jockey are owner Cap Atwood (left), trainer Marshal Bacon and family. Jet Along It won a half-mile, 70-yard race on June 15, 1985. Craig played host to three weeks of horse racing every summer from the late-1960s to mid-1980s

Museum of Northwest Colorado

Jockey Jack Brown sits atop Jet Along It after winning a race at the Moffat Country Raceway, set up at the Moffat County Fairgrounds. Standing with the horse and jockey are owner Cap Atwood (left), trainer Marshal Bacon and family. Jet Along It won a half-mile, 70-yard race on June 15, 1985. Craig played host to three weeks of horse racing every summer from the late-1960s to mid-1980s

Local horse racing aficionado reacts to Belmont news, recalls past local races

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Sweepers Brasslady (No. 6) rounds a turn during a race held June 27, 1987 at the Moffat County Raceway set up on the Moffat County Fairgrounds. The horse, owned and trained by Lester Mock, would win the 330-yard race in a time of 17.79 seconds. From the late-1960s through at least 1987, Moffat County Fairgrounds hosted horse races every year for three weekends in June.

Quotable

“We had an awful lot of support from the businesses and the county, and without that we never would have been able to do it. That’s a tribute to how much the people here enjoyed [horse racing].”

Pete Pleasant, lifetime Craig resident and former member of the local committee for horse racing, about the success of the Colorado Fair Circuit Racing Association coming to Craig for three weeks every summer.

Triple Crown winners

(Year Horse Trainer)

1919 Sir Barton H.G. Bedwell

1930 Gallant Fox James Fitzsimmons

1935 William Saunders James Fitzsimmons

1937 War Emblem George Conway

1941 Whirlaway Ben A. Jones

1943 Count Fleet Don Cameron

1946 Assault Max Hirsch

1948 Citation Ben A. Jones

1973 Secretariat Lucien Laurin

1977 Seattle Slew William Turner, Jr.

1978 Affirmed Lazaro S. Barrera

The Belmont Stakes run today, but I’ll Have Another will not be racing for a Triple Crown, and will not ever race again.

The Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner was the 4-5 favorite to win the Belmont and complete the first Triple Crown in thoroughbred racing since 1978, but the horse’s trainer, Doug O’Neill, confirmed the horse would not be racing due to a “little problem with his left front leg,” on the Dan Patrick radio show. The late scratch came as a disappointment to members of the horse racing community in Craig.

“That’s a kick in the side of the head to horse racing,” Craig resident Pete Pleasant said. “Having a horse going for the Triple Crown creates a lot of interest, especially among the media, which creates more interest among the general public.

“The TV audience is going to go down and the Las Vegas bookies are going to be disappointed. I would think a lot less money will be bet on that race now.”

He added, however, “Those things happen. Those horses are fragile.”

Pleasant has been in the area all his life, and was heavily involved in horse racing when it came to Craig in the 1960s.

During that era, the state of Colorado organized the Colorado Fair Circuit Racing Association, which sent horses, jockeys and trainers around the state each year starting in May, according to Pleasant. The traveling racers would start in Southeastern Colorado and make their way to cities all over the state, eventually coming through Craig for a few weeks each summer. Races took place at the Moffat County Fairgrounds.

Pleasant recalls the first year for racing taking place in the late 60s, and said he was the track announcer that summer. In the following years, he was a member of the local committee which organized the event, found race sponsors and put together programs for each weekend.

According to Pleasant, the first day of racing in Craig only took in about $8,000 in bets, but it continued to grow and was regularly boasting numbers from $75,000-$90,000 in bets on a given day.

The horse racing weekends in Craig became big enough for restaurants in Steamboat Springs to charter buses to Craig after breakfast on race days, he said.

Eventually, the economy took a hit, the Fair Circuit Racing Association fell apart and racing at the Moffat County Fairgrounds came to an end.

Pleasant doesn’t remember the final year of horse racing in Craig, but the Museum of Northwestern Colorado has photos from as late as 1987 of races at the Fairgrounds.

Despite the abrupt stop to the racing, Pleasant remembers it fondly.

“We had the same group of people involved most years. Everybody had a job to do and everybody did their job,” Pleasant said. “We had an awful lot of support from the businesses and the county, and without that we never would have been able to do it.

“That’s a tribute to how much the people here enjoyed (horse racing). It was a popular thing for the whole area, not just Craig. We’re talking Rawlins (Wyo.), Baggs (Wyo.), Vernal (Utah), Meeker, Rifle. Everybody was into it.”

Pleasant still follows thoroughbred racing and remembers the run of Triple Crown winners in the 1970s, when Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed won in 1973, 1977 and 1978, respectively.

The 1978 Triple Crown is still the last one to be achieved in thoroughbred racing. I’ll Have Another was the 12th horse to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness since Affirmed won the Triple Crown, and due to the scratch, will be the 12th to fall short at the Belmont.

The Belmont posts at 4:40 p.m. local time. The second and third favorites to win the race before I’ll Have Another’s scratch were Dullahan and Union Rags.

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Comments

Ray Cartwright 2 years, 3 months ago

Fond memories of going to the races. the wife was working it was just me and the boys: off to the races what a way to spend a Saturday Afternoon. I do remember the Jet lineage and that winning.

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