Foolish Pleasure Blog: Evidence of first night racing uncovered

by | 01.01.2012 | 1:14pm

Valerie Grash, writing in the Foolish Pleasure blog, updates a previous post about the origins of night racing in the United States with a fascinating piece that appeared in Harper's Weekly in August 1894 entitled “Horse-Racing by Electric Light.” In her research into the subject, Grash has stumbled upon evidence of what was most likely the first night-time racing, which took place in St. Louis.

“There is but one place in the world in which horse-racing may be seen at night. That is in St. Louis, Missouri,” the piece starts out. It goes on to provide wonderful, graphic descriptions of what it must have been like to be at the track for racing under the new-fangled incandescent lights just before the turn of the 20th Century.

Particularly fascinating is the description of the spotlights that were placed around the track and used to illuminate the field throughout each race:

“The search-light follows the horses around the turn, and then another one takes its place as the animals break into the stretch down past the stand. Never was a daylight race more exciting than this.”

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