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  • Writer's pictureDiana McDaniel Hampo

The First Ride at Oaklawn


Something happens late in the fall every year in Hot Springs and it makes my heart sing just a little. I'll be driving to work, south on Central Avenue, I'll look to my left and thoroughbreds will be running in the morning mist at Oaklawn Park. Those magnificent, uppty creatures are out there getting their morning work out. Some are accompanied by "regular horses" with Western saddles. Most of the riders are men but now there are a lot more women on board.


As a native of Hot Springs this instantly tells me the world is still spinning on it's axis; the race season will start soon, Hot Springs will fill up with jockeys, trainers, hot walkers, owners, gamblers and race fans. It's been happening for more than one hundred years and for me it's a good thing and calms my fears of chaos and the future.



I love parking in the lot right next to the track (and I mean it's right next to the track) then leaning against the fence as horses thunder past. I can feel their hooves strike the ground in my bones. I listen as riders talk and joke with one another or talk to their horse. Some times they wave, which is sweet. If I pull out my camera some will smile as they gallop past others will intentionally turn their faces away from me.


Lots of times there are a few other folks, handicappers and families with delighted children. even if you're not a fan of actually going to the races, watching the morning rides is wonderful and leaves me with a sense of awe and peace.


PS If you liked this post I hope you'll check out the others at Hot Springs Love. More cool stuff in Hot Springs that I love.




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