Annual harness racing begins July 12-13 with the Michigan Breeders Colt Stakes at Mecosta County Fair

BIG RAPIDS – Harness racing returns to Big Rapids today and tomorrow as the Mecosta County Fair sees more than 60 horses compete in the Michigan Breeders Colt Stakes.

Sixty-two horses are entered for this year’s harness racing event, which begins at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 12. With horses competing in eight different divisions, 10 races are scheduled to take place on Tuesday evening. Each division will award $11,000.

For divisions that have more than 10 horses to enter, they will be split into two races for the enjoyment of fans. Event organizer Matt Currie said each race will feature two laps around the half-mile dirt oval, which is the equivalent of a one-mile run. Horse racing on Tuesday will be 2-3 year old horses, many of whom will be racing for the first time.

Riders from across the state will be competing in the Michigan Breeders Colt Stakes, each bringing manufactured race “bikes” capable of hitting 35 mph behind their respective horses.

The track record is 1:58.8 seconds, which nearly dropped last year. Although Currie doesn’t expect the record to fall on Tuesday, he thinks Wednesday’s race, with some of the older horses, would give them a chance to break the record.

“Wednesday evening is the conditions of the night.” said Curry. “Although there are some young horses, it is mostly older horses who are seasoned and have raced and are in very good shape. They tend to be able to carry their speed a bit further.

Alongside the nighttime condition races, there will be a celebrity race on Wednesday night.

Currie gave his thoughts on what makes a successful harness racing rider.

“A driver should be, I would say, just confident around the horses,” Currie said. “They must know how to handle a horse.”

For more information on the Colt Stakes and other grandstand events taking place at the Mecosta Free Fair, visit