The Sport of Kings
Fairgoers loved horse racing, and betting on the horse racing, from the earliest years of the State Fair. A lot changed in the decades after the state took over operations of the fair in 1885. In 1893 fair officials spent less than $11,000 to build the original Grandstand, overlooking the new mile-long oval horse racing track. It was rebuilt in 1929 to accommodate 6,500 people at a cost of $150,000 (over 2 million dollars in today’s money). The Grandstand was condemned in the 1980s leading to the end of horse racing at the State Fair. The structure was demolished in 2002 and the Pavillion was built in its place two years later. Variations on horse racing also thrived over the years, including jump racing and harness racing. One thing that didn't change was a tradition of giving race horses silly names, such as Gamblewithus, Flamethower, Lady Wholloper, Mischievous Miss, Dr. Elmo and Flashy Chap.