Meet the stars of harness racing

The Backstretch opens up its doors after Saturday's qualifying races at Fraser Downs.

An inquisitive Standardbred race horse peers down from its stall inside one of the barns at Fraser Downs Racetrack.

The barn doors at Fraser Downs will be thrown wide open Saturday, when the harness racing community hosts its annual open house.

Visitors are invited to watch the qualifying races in the morning of Sept. 24, then come around to the Backstretch for a peek inside a working race track.

The event is a chance to meet some of the drivers – and their equine stars – plus up-and-comers like Kayla Mills, a young woman who’s trying to qualify as a driver. She won the “Powder Puff” women’s race earlier this year at the Harness the Hope fundraising event.

There will also be harness demonstrations, along with raffles and a craft table for kids.

The Backstretch – located at the 17740 62 Avenue horse barns at Fraser Downs, across from the Agriplex – will be open from 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. The qualifying races start at 10 a.m.

Watch from the grandstand at Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino as this year’s hopefuls see if they are fast enough to qualify. It’s a non-betting event, and there should be at least eight races on Saturday.

“It’s a great for the public to see how a race is held,” Standardbred owner and trainer

Sandra Roberts said.

The open house is open to the whole family. Grab lunch from 11:30 to 1:30 p.m., and take a barn tour, where visitors will see where the horses are stabled, and learn about how they’re trained and cared for.

Live racing at Fraser Downs Racetrack and Casino resumes Oct. 7, kicking off the 2011 fall season with races Friday at 7 p.m., and at 1:45 p.m. Saturday and Sunday that weekend.

Harness Racing B.C. is the association that represents owners, trainers, drivers and other members of the racing community.

Cloverdale’s horsemen and their supporters have much to celebrate – the reinstatement of a 10-month racing season in 2012.

Earlier this year, they organized protests and mounted lobbying efforts in an effort to persuade Fraser Downs owners Great Canadian Camping Corporation and the B.C. Gaming Policy Enforcement Branch to extend the racing season.

Lobbying efforts with cabinet minister Shirley Bond and other government officials in May helped turn the tide, Harness Racing B.C. CEO Doug McCallum said at the time.

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