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Welcome to Aiken's Triple Crown 2024

Mar. 9—Say the words "Triple Crown" to folks and you're likely to get a variety of answers.

Some people think it's about the three big horse races for thoroughbreds: The Kentucky Derby, the Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes.

Others equate it with baseball and winning the batting, home run and runs batted in titles in the same season.

Those responses aren't wrong, per se, but around here there is only one Triple Crown that matters. And that's the one that celebrates the local equestrian scene on three successive weekends in March.

The three events celebrate a winter of hard work and show a glimpse of what's to come.

Although the horses, jockeys, trainers and owners are the main attraction, there is plenty of food, fashion and fun to be had.

Horses have been part of Aiken's fabric for well over a century, and the Triple Crown preview section has been a staple at the Aiken Standard since the early 1970s.

The format of the section has changed through the years, but essentially it's a guide with key information on the three main events.

My predecessors started a Triple Crown section in 1971 when the Aiken Harness Races began. Together with the Aiken Trials and the Hunt Meet, the three events formed Aiken's Triple Crown. The idea was for the horse folks to show off their work and for Aikenites to dress up, eat and drink, and have fun.

Now it's the Aiken Trials, Aiken Spring Steeplechase and Pacers and Polo. The Aiken Trials is still held at the Aiken Training Track, but the steeplechase has a new facility on Richland Avenue and the Pacers and Polo event is moving to historic Whitney Field.

This year's cover story is on a local training center that turns out yearlings for auction and the racetrack. Crystal and Marcus Ryan operate Mason Springs, and it has been a great success.

We have you covered on the essentials for all three events, and there are features on what to wear and what to bring for food and drink.

Before you head to the races, read up on the events and the people that make the Triple Crown special. You can find coverage after the races in print and online at aikenstandard.com.

And when someone asks what the "Triple Crown" means, you can tell them it's about thoroughbreds, steeplechasers and polo.