A closer look at the historic speed barns
Each morning since summer started I’ve been watching the horses that live in the speed barns trot around the track from my office window. Yesterday during the Standardbred harness racing, I got an even better view. For one race I got to ride in the starting car, which is the vehicle that paces the horses to start the race.
Being so close to these horses as they raced around the track was breath taking! I loved the experience, but I don’t know much about harness racing. I’ve been curious to know exactly what the speed barns are all about, so I asked the State Fairgrounds’ Executive Director, Cindy Hoye, and the Director of Strategic Projects, Kristen Wolfred.
The speed barns stable Standardbred horses year-round and stand as a location for owners to house and train their horses. The State Fairgrounds’ speed barns are actually considered the best training location in Indiana. The horses that inhabit them race at Hoosier Park, county fairs all over the state and right here at the State Fairgrounds.
Thanks to funding from the State Legislature the speed barns are getting a makeover. Approximately $500,000 has been granted to fairs in Elkhart, Fayette, Harrison, Jay, Miami, Noble and Shelby counties for construction or repair of barns and other improvements to help enhance harness racing programming throughout the state. Nearly $1.5 million has been given to the State Fair Commission to update and enhance the State Fairgrounds’ training facilities.
Speed Barn renovations include new windows in the roof, residing, reconstruction of the stalls and repainting. The renovation is still in the works, but the Allen Barn, which is the barn furthest south and nearest to gate six, is well on its way.
For the remainder of the fair, visitors can tour the Allen Barn from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.