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Aiken Training Track helps make horses accessible to everyone

The 79th edition of the Aiken Trials is set to make its glorious return in March after missing a year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The March 19 event is an afternoon of thoroughbred racing, held at the Aiken Training Track. While the equine community no doubt enjoys the affair, it also aims to draw in members of the everyday public.

A couple events held around the trials help with this goal, in addition to the Aiken Trials itself. Breakfast at the Gallops is one of these.

This breakfast has been held for several years, according to Barry Bornstein, one of Aiken Training Track's vice presidents. 

"We have (people) come and they can have breakfast and then we try to give them a 101 course on what’s happening out there, and they can see the horses," Bornstein said.

Local trainers are on hand to talk to attendees about the various training methods used to train horses. There are usually special guests that attend, with this year's being Caton Bredar.

Bredar is a veteran thoroughbred horse racing analyst who has appeared on major networks such as ABC, ESPN, CBS and Fox, according to the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame.

This year's edition will take place March 18.

Another annual happening is Ride the Rails, which occurs in the week before the trials. This event allows residents to ride their own horses around the Aiken Training Track.

Riders can go at their own pace and get the chance to have their photo taken riding past the iconic Blue Peter's Tree seen on the track's interior.

This opportunity gives horse owners a prime chance to ride on the famous track.

While not held in the same timeframe as Aiken's Triple Crown, the Backstretch Experience is a way for the general public to get a behind-the-scenes look at Aiken's racehorse industry.

Attendees start by watching the horses out on the Aiken Training Track for their morning training before going back to the stables. Once there, participants hear about all things equestrian as it relates to the Aiken Training Track, as well as having a question and answer period.

Last year's event was held in October, and the date for the 2022 edition hasn't yet been announced.

Bornstein also mentioned that the track is open every morning from 6:30 to 10 a.m. for members of the public to come out and watch horses and even take photographs.

There’s usually a group of people, which Bornstein said includes himself on occasion, who help explain what's going on when people come in to visit.

"All the trainers are always accessible to answer questions," he added.