GREAT FALLS — The Great Falls Turf Club started state fair season off right with the return of horse racing back in Montana’s ExpoPark. The first of eight races began at 1p.m. today with thousands of people filing in enjoy the hot afternoon sun and place their race bets.
In the first race, Da Gunner got the win after a brilliant ride from jockey, Holly Gervais, but then Taylor Smith won the next two on the backs of Three Point Cash in the second race and Heza Man-eater in the third.
An important note from the race was the amount of family members from the longtime Browning horse training family, the Birdrattlers.
Many of them rode in all the races; Ed Birdrattler was the starter and many more served as trainers for the horses.
Their imprint was large and impactful as many of them came home with victories today one way or another.
(JULY 21, 2021) After being without horse racing in 2020 due to COVID-19, the Great Falls Turf Club has brought back one of the most exciting events of the summer starting this weekend at Montana ExpoPark.
The non-profit organization has been the catalyst behind the race for the past decade since the club’s formation in 2010. Club President Sparky Kottke and his team have taken pride in handling every aspect of the event. Whether it be the maintenance of the fairgrounds, handling its employees, or putting up banners, the club does all the heavy lifting to make it happen.
“Horse racing has been such a big part of our history in Montana and it’s important to keep it going,” Kottke explained. “I think the hard work that we put in to keep it going is just a reward in itself just to have the races going.”
With the community support from local business sponsorships, county allocation funds and yearly fundraising, the organization works towards covering all the expenses of the race.
“It is quite a big financial responsibility to make sure that we get enough money raised to pay all of our bills and at least break even and hopefully make a bit of money to put back here into the fairgrounds for improvements,” Kottke said.
John Hayes, chairman of the Montana Board of Horse Racing, has seen first-hand the success the organization has done each and every year and how the community support has come back around to help the city of Great Falls.
“The impact on our hotels, motels, it’s huge, it’s huge what the race track brings,” Hayes said. “So I think they’re doing a heck of a job.”
The races will be on July 24, 25, 30, 31, and August 1.
Post time is 1 p.m., except for July 30, when post time is 5 p.m.
For more information, click here to visit the Turf Club website.