Monday, March 23, 2009
"And they're off," barks an announcer over the loud speakers giving a play-by-play as they round the corner. The crowds watch the corner and yell at the first sign of the six horses as they head for the straightaway and towards a wall to the edge of the track. For a quick second, everyone holds their breath as the horses fly over the wall and burst into more applause as the horses clear the wall and race by and disappear around another corner.
After the horses pass, the crowd listens closely to the announcer and follow in their program as they wait for a chance to see the racers once more. After circling the track three times and passing over nine jumps, the race is over. Some cheer after their favorite horse wins while others laugh and look at the next race in the program.
Every year for 43 years Aiken has been home to the Aiken Spring Steeplechase. The day long event usually attracts about 30,000 visitors from across the southeast who attend as much for the racing as they do for tailgating and socializing.