100 Years Ago Today

A History Of Events And Happenings From Exactly One Hundred Years Ago

First Women’s Harness Race In Illinois

Chariot racing existed in ancient Greece and Rome. In the US the Dutch brought “hardriverij – hard drivery” to New Amsterdam in the 1700’s. Trotting harness races became a popular rural past-time using carts and carriages and by the early 19th century the first harness racing tracks where established. Trotting races were an attraction and most county fairs. A standard track for trotting was one mile with a standard time of 2.5 minutes maximum. While the classical thoroughbred is used in flat and jump races, the harness races use what is known as a ‘standardbred’ horse, a horse who can meet the standard distance and time. The horses race do not gallop but move in a specified gait–either the trot or the pace with a trotter’s forelegs move in tandem with the opposite hind legs.

On September 7, 1912 the very first women harness drivers competing in a four-wheeled trotting raced the standard track at Lake Forest racetrack – Lake Forest, Illinois.

Women harness drivers racing at Lake Forest Racetrack
Lake Forest, Illinois
September 7, 1912

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