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Osoyoos residents and Desert Park prepare for second day of horse racing on Aug. 31
As Osoyoos gets ready to hold its second horse racing day of the year, organizers are encouraging spectators to get dressed up for the occasion.
The second and final race day gets underway at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31 at Desert Park.
Several changes are planned to make the betting go more smoothly and to increase seating, said Carol Youngberg, president of the Desert Park Exhibition Society, which organizes the races.
The event is also being called the Wine Derby Races and will include sponsorship and participation of local wineries.
“The wineries will be there pouring some of their product and giving attendees an opportunity to taste wine between the races,” said Youngberg.
A key lesson learned from the first race day, held June 15, is to be better able to satisfy the betting needs of spectators, she said.
This time there will be more sellers and more betting machines and the gate will be open an hour before race time. This will allow people to pre-bet on the entire program or on individual races, Youngberg said.
She acknowledges that some people were disappointed at the June races because they faced long lines to place bets and some gave up and returned to their seats.
This time there will be an outdoor beer garden, allowing people to watch the races from the beer garden.
The sound system is being improved so that announcements can be heard throughout the facility, including from the paddock, the concession area and the beer garden.
There will be first aid attendants on site separate from the horse racing ambulance service. An additional food vendor is also being added.
For those seeking hats and fascinators to wear to the races, Home Hardware will be selling some in the coming days, Youngberg said.
“We’re trying to take a spin off the Deighton Cup at Hastings Park [in Vancouver] and the actual Derby held in England where the girls wear the little hats and swishy dresses and the guys wear the little Bowler hats,” said Youngberg.
“We’re hoping we can have a display of everybody and their dresses and their hats with a little parade in the beer garden and some prizes,” she added.
Condition sheets are currently in preparation.
Horses that can race in Osoyoos will be partly determined by races now underway elsewhere.
Admission to the racetrack is free, however, there is a $5 charge for parking. There will also be donation barrels at the entry gates so that people can contribute to the improvement of the facility.
Youngberg said Desert Park is still seeking more sponsors for the races. Businesses interested in being a sponsor can contact her at 250-485-2238.
The race day comes on the heels of a successful first race day held on June 15, where cars were lined up and spectators packed the restored facility. Considerable repairs and renovations had to be done to get the facility ready for the June race as there have not been races at Desert Park since the late 1990s.
Youngberg said there has been considerable interest expressed in the second race and she has heard from companies that may bus in spectators from places such as Kelowna.