Westport, NY, Jul 23, 2009 — It is county fair season: midways, fried dough--and small-town harness racing. Northern New York is a presence in horse racing, from the historic track at Saratoga, to the group of friends in Sackets Harbor who raced into the record book with a horse named Funny Cide.
Their success on contemporary tracks draws from a long tradition of racing in the region, where the sport of choice for many has long been harness racing. That means sturdy, standard-bred horses pulling drivers in stripped-down racing carts. You can still see cutthroat competitions at county fairs from Booneville to Westport.
But harness racing has fallen on hard times in recent years. In a series on horse racing in the North Country last fall, Brian Mann reported that new efforts to bring the sport back have meant bigger purses and also new controversy.