On a whim recently, a friend and I accepted an invitation to watch Harness Racing at Cal Expo. As soon as we arrived, we were escorted into the pacer car which serves both as a starting gate and traveling announcer’s booth. It was that night that Conrad Briggs (from Georgetown) converted from a “hot shoe” endurance rider to a “want to be” Standardbred driver. His friend’s horse came from nearly last to first down the last stretch. What a finish! Conrad began his endurance riding career in 1994. In his relatively short career, he says he finished 85% of his roughly 100 races in the top ten. What attracted Conrad to endurance riding is not just the competitive challenge; it’s the challenge of solving issues, whether the source relates to nutrition, conditioning, shoeing or tack. After personal health concerns put a halt to endurance riding in 2005, Conrad worked his way back to good health and focusing on work as a general contractor. Now, he’s finding a new surge of adrenaline, studying the challenges that meet the Pacers and Trotters. It’s a story “from trail to track”. He’s hoping the lessons he’s learned tweaking the nutrition of the endurance horse translate directly to the track. From the Winner’s Circle, I’d say they do. Cal Expo is home to the only LIVE Harness Racing on the West Coast. Conrad says the stables house at least 300 horses at a time. The Thoroughbreds are on the track during the State Fair. But on September 25th, Harness Racing returns through December 19th, then starts again in January and runs through July. If you’re interested in joining a small group of Standardbred Pacer and Trotter fans to the track in the fall, contact Pam at 823-3142 or me at 392-0328. Oh yeah … Conrad reminded me that Mark Engemann’s Tevis mount is part Standardbred!
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