Montana Horse Racing: A History
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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