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Utah Hosts One Of The Challenge Horse Races For The First Time

Brody Hatt and Colt Black
This month, Utah Horse Racing Commission was able to put safetly guidelines into place in order to move foward with the races.

Horses and trainers all over Utah have worked toward competing this spring, but with the coronavirus pandemic resulting in numerous cancelled events, people were unsure whether or not competitions would still be held.

The Utah Horse Racing Commission met with county health departments, commissioners and public officials in order to make this season’s horse races possible with added safety measures. Because of their actions, Utah hosted one of the regional Challenge Races for the first time at Weber Downs on Saturday. 

Leann Hunting, the executive director of the Horse Racing Commission, was on the team that helped the races move forward this year. 

“The way we were able to move forward in that direction was by limiting access to the public," said Hunting. "That also reduced the revenue that we were able to bring in to support horse racing because there was no charge. There was no public coming to pay an entry fee or anything like that. We allowed trainers and owners and jockeys to come in and to be there only for the races that their horses were in. They couldn't stay for races before or after, just the race that their horse was up in.”

Event coordinators hope that being able to host this race in the current conditions will get more spectators, horse ownerships, and sponsorships for years to come.

“We have people coming, bringing horses in from all other states to race," said Hunting. "In addition to that, because we were kind of setting a standard for horse racing in the state, we had the American Quarter Horse Association sent out to investigators to our races this last weekend, to observe and make sure that we were following all the rules as it relates to horse racing. Making sure that we were doing the proper testing, our facilities were secure.” 

In addition to their prizes, winners from the Utah challenge will get to compete in the national championship in Albuquerque this September.