This year’s Fayette County Fair, set for July 20-25, will see a return of the Fayette County Classic after a two-year hiatus.
There will again this year be two cards of harness racing at the fair, Wednesday evening commencing at 5:30 p.m. and Saturday beginning at noon.
On Saturday, the final race of the day will be the Fayette County Classic.
The Record-Herald sat down recently with Dr. Robert Schwartz of Midland Acres and a member of the Fayette County Fair Board, for a conversation regarding the upcoming harness racing action.
“We’re excited about the fair,” Schwartz said. “We always try to make it bigger and better.
“As for the harness racing, we’re going to have what we call twilight racing on Wednesday night,” Schwartz said. “The exciting thing, as far as the fair racing — we had to suspend the Fayette County Classic, we changed the conditions for two years because we had a shortage of horses — this year, thankfully, we have plenty of horses.
“We’re going to have more races due to the increased numbers of the 2-year-olds,” Schwartz said. “We’re going to have the Fayette County Classic returning this year. It is staged for any 2-year-old colt or filly that is sired by a stallion standing in Fayette County. They would have been foaled in 2013 and will race as 2-year-olds this year.
“The numbers are up dramatically,” Schwartz said. “The number of colts staked in our circuit is up roughly 75 percent. We are in the Ohio Colt Racing Association (OCRA) circuit that is comprised of 11 fairs in south-central Ohio. The individual horses are staked to various fairs. There are five circuits throughout Ohio.”
The increase in horses equates to more races at the fair, Schwartz noted.
“We’re going to have a lot more races carded for Wednesday and Saturday than we have in the past,” Schwartz said. “We think we’ll have a very competitive field in the Fayette County Classic, just because of the sheer numbers.
“We should be going for approximately $10,000 this year,” Schwartz said of the purse for the Fayette County Classic. “It will certainly be one of the larger purses for a so-called overnight event in the state of Ohio at the county fair level. It’s no longer the largest, but we’re still in the upper percentile.
“We also have a fine program slated for Wednesday evening with the Signature Series trot and the Signature Series pace,” Schwartz said. “This event is staged for the older horses, where the Fayette County Classic and the colt stakes are written for the 2 and-3-year-old colts and fillies. Fourteen is the mandatory retirement age for the standardbreds.
“For the Signature Series, most of the horses will be 4 through 9 years of age,” Schwartz said.
There will again be pari-mutuel wagering on the races at the fair.
“We’re bringing back a rodeo on Saturday night,” Schwartz said. “The last time we had the rodeo, it was very well-attended.
“I would like to invite everyone to come out and enjoy two sessions of harness racing,” Schwartz said. “I am expecting 15 to 16 races each day. There will be a lot of horses and a lot of competitive races.”
This will be the 29th running of the Fayette County Classic, according to Schwartz.