Montana Horse Racing: A History

Front Cover
Arcadia Publishing, Sep 2, 2019 - Sports & Recreation - 272 pages
For centuries, on prairie grasslands, dusty streets and racing ovals, everyday Montanans participated in the sport of kings. More than a century after horses arrived in the region, Lewis and Clark's Nez Perce guides staged horse races at Traveler's Rest in 1806. In response to hazardous street races, the Montana legislature granted communities authority to ban "immoderate riding or driving." Helena led the way to respectable racing, with Madam Coady's fashion course hosting the first territorial fair in 1868. Soon, leading citizens like Marcus Daly built oval tracks and glitzy grandstands. By 1890, a horse named Bob Wade set a world record for a quarter mile in Butte, a mark that stood until 1958. Horsewoman and historian Brenda Wahler highlights the Big Sky's patrons of the turf and courageous equine champions, including Kentucky Derby winner Spokane.

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Notes to the Reader
Montanas Horse Racing History
In the Beginning
Fort Union to Fort Benton
Fast Horses and Vigilantes
From Racetrack to Ranching
Determined Missoula
Running under the Rims
Rural Montana Racing
Wild Horses Dragged Them
Racing in the Electric City
Native Future
The Horse and Its Future

When the Queen City Reigned
The Highest Highs and the Lowest Lows
Hamilton and the Bitter Root Stock Farm
Bozeman and the Beaumont
Selected Bibliography
About the Author

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2019)

A fourth-generation Montanan with a lifelong interest in horses and history, Brenda Wahler showed horses in the 1970s and 1980s, when the racing community was a major presence at fairgrounds across the country. Through college and beyond, she taught riding and judged horse shows. Today, she is an attorney and owns Wahler Equine, an education and consulting business. She and her husband live near Helena, Montana, with assorted horses and house pets. Visit her blog at

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