Shortly before the first race on Saturday, July 14, the thoroughbred horse Pennant Fever became fractious in the gate and unseated 17-year-old jockey Evan Herman. Herman had to be taken by ambulance to a Fargo hospital to be treated for non-life threatening injuries.
Herman, who will be a senior at Turtle Mountain Community High School next fall, in Belcourt, N.D., comes from a family long involved in North Dakota horse racing. He got his first win as a jockey during the 2017 North Dakota Horse Park meet.
While Herman nor Pennant Fever were able to run the race, fellow jockeys volunteered to ride other horses Herman planned to run Saturday.
The remaining 10 races ran smoothly, including three North Dakota Quarter Horse Association futurity trial races. In order to qualify for the North Dakota Quarter Horse Racing Association futurity race, horses had to compete in the trial races. The fastest eight finishers of Saturday’s races will then run in the final futurity on July 28.
Attendance was low on opening day, but track officials suspect the high heat—temperatures topped 90 degrees — probably kept some away along with the many events happening in and around the metro area, said general manager Mike Schmitz.
“This is essentially one of the busiest days of summer, so we are competing against a lot of events,” Schmitz said. “Sundays usually draw better plus it is ladies day.”
The first 50 women who come through the gate wearing a hat on Sunday, July 15, will get in free. Ladies can also enter a drawing to win one of four designer purses along with one conceal and carry purse that will be given away.
About 200 horses are currently at the horse park, ready to run during this year’s meet.
The track, which is operated by the nonprofit, Horse Race North Dakota, hosts both Quarter Horse and thoroughbred races. The thoroughbred breed is known for running longer distances, while quarter horses are sprint distances, running average races of 300 to 400 yards long. Quarter horses are known to run at speeds up to 40 mph.
Races will start at 1 p.m. on Sunday, July 15, Saturday, July 21, and Sunday, July 22.
Races will be held at 5:30 p.m., Friday, July 27, and 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 28.