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North Dakota Horse Racing Circuit


The Central Racing Circuit of North Dakota met early in 1909 to organize for their annual horse races. All reports suggested the upcoming season would be a highly successful one—exciting news for North Dakota, which newspapers noted “[had] a reputation as a racing center.” This race also garnered attention because “its organization [was] said to be well-nigh ideal.” The locations for the series weren’t too far apart, making it easier and safer to ship horses between venues.


This year, Fargo joined the other eight cities that were already members of the Central Racing Circuit. In order to participate, Fargo had to sell 2,500 tickets and send a delegate to attend the organizational meeting that had been held in February. Eighteen hundred of the tickets were sold before that meeting, so there was no concern on that end. Consequently, Fargo became one of the stops, and would host three races over three days, and a “purse of $400” to the winner of each event.


The Fargo Forum reported, “The Horse Review refers to the Central Circuit of North Dakota as ‘easy’ purses. Possibly it meant to say ‘early’ purses. Some of the boys from the south didn’t find them so easy last year.”


On this date, Minot kicked off three days of races, then sent the competitors on to Rugby for the next event. The Stutsman County Fair in Jamestown featured the horse racing, along with its other fair amusements. 


Golden Valley noted at the end of the season that their resident, “enthusiastic race-horse man,” S. M. Wills, returned with some spoils of the sport, having won 4th place in each heat in Fargo, and “first money” in every race he entered in Casselton, Courtney, and Carrington, as well as picking up a few first place finishes in the other towns. 


In the meantime, Mr. William Parker of Minot would say, “I have owned my last race horse. There’s no money in it, and to be successful, you’ve got to associate with crooks and be one yourself. I don’t care if you have a pick from a thousand boys to ride your horses, there’s not one of them but who can be bought to throw a race. I’m sick of the whole works.”


 Dakota Datebook by Sarah Walker



The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, Feb. 1, 1909, p10

Golden Valley Chronicle, July 30, 1909, p6

The Ward County Independent, Oct. 28, 1909, p9

The Evening Times (Grand Forks), May 13, 1909, p3

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, March 12, 1909, p12

The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, March 5, 1909, p7

The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, May 29, 1909, p7

The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, June 26, 1909, p17

The Evening Times (Grand Forks), June 24, 1909, p3

The Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, July 9, 1909, p1

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, March 15, 1909, p6

Fargo Forum and Daily Republican, May 1, 1909, p16

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