Food. Fashion. Fun.
That's what I think about when someone mentions the Triple Crown, Aiken's annual series of spring equestrian events.
Oh, and horses, too.
Horses have been part of the Aiken scene for well over a century, and the Triple Crown preview section has been a staple at the Aiken Standard for five decades.
Like the Triple Crown itself, the format of the section has changed through the years. In the early days it was a thick slab of pages on newsprint, then it became a slick magazine-style format.
Now we're back to a tab format with key information on the three main events, plus the requisite food and fashion stories.
My predecessors started a Triple Crown section in 1971 when the Aiken Harness Races began. Together with the Aiken Trials and the Hunt Meet, the three events formed Aiken’s Triple Crown. The idea was for the horse folks to show off their work and for Aikenites to dress up, eat and drink, and have fun.
Now it's the Aiken Trials, Aiken Spring Steeplechase and Pacers and Polo. The goal remains the same: have fun.
This year's cover story is on the resurgence at the Aiken Training Track. Once a major training ground for young thoroughbreds headed to East Coast racetracks, the activity leveled off as more outfits headed for other destinations. But, as Dede Biles reports, that has changed and the track is bustling with action.
The Aiken Steeplechase Association is in year two of its new venue, and so far so good. Another big crowd should gather to cheer on the jumpers and their jockeys.
Polo, the third leg, is still going strong. It's been played in Aiken for more than 140 years and there are no signs of letting up.
You don't need to know much about horses to enjoy the Triple Crown. Some would say the social scene surrounding the equestrian events is the highlight of the year.
But before you head out, read up on the events and the people that make the Triple Crown special. You can find coverage after the races online at aikenstandard.com.
We are looking forward to the food, fashion and fun.