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Great Falls picks up race dates from Marias Fair

February 22, 2005     E-mail this page to a friend!

“We are not going to run, at least this year,” is the final word from Jay Clark of the Shelby fair board regarding horse racing at the Marias Fair for 2005.

Marias Fair rescinded the allotted race dates for the traditional fair meet at Shelby. Great Falls State Fair Race Meet will pick up the two days for July 23 and 24. That gives Great Falls a total of 10 days of live racing on July 4, 9, 10, 16, 17, 23, 24, 29, 30 and 31.

“Without a simulcast site generating any money for almost two years, there’s just no money for purses,” Clark explained. “We did it last year with sponsor money and we took money out of the fair, and it really hurt the fair financially. But we were trying to keep it going until we could get something else done. And we didn’t.

“So if we can get another simulcast site in the next few months, we plan on coming back and doing it (running live horse racing) again.”

Live racing at the Marias Fair began in the early 40s, took a hiatus during the big war, and started up again right after. It has run continuously ever since, until this year.

“The fair board itself really wants to keep racing going, but we couldn’t see any other way,” Clark said.

Bill Ogg, Race Director and Fair Manager for Montana State Fair, commented regarding picking up the Shelby race dates: “We hope Great Falls people will still go and enjoy the Marias Fair when they’re not at the live races.”

Ron Bruski will return to call the live races at Montana ExpoPark in Great Falls.