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'It’s just a part of my life.' Elloree trials cancelled for Spring of next year

The beloved horse race in Orangeburg County has been drawing in crowds by the thousands since the 1960's but needs volunteers.

ELLOREE, S.C. — The Elloree Trials is being put on hold for now, no race next year and well not sure about the following one. 

The beloved horse race in Orangeburg County has been drawing in crowds by the thousands since the 1960's.

People come from all across the country to see the fastest horses compete.


“It’s kind of like a big family reunion and of course it brings in some revenue not only to the town of Elloree but Santee also," said Elloree Trials committee president Howard Shuler.

Shuler has been involved with planning the Elloree Trials for the past 25 years.

‘It’s just a part of my life,” said Shuler. 

He says he's actively working to organize a group to try and save it, so people within the community and beyond can continue to enjoy it for years to come.

"The Elloree Trials has meant so many things to the community. It's given a lot of our young people employment there. Some of the young aspiring jockeys got their start at the Elloree Training Center," said Mayor Mike Fanning, "Including one of the most famous ones of all, Chris Antley from Elloree that grew up at the training center and went on to win two Kentucky Derbys."

Shuler says the decision to cancel the Spring 2023 trials wasn't easy, but was made primarily due to staffing challenges. 

Everything from parking to sales requires all hands on deck, and he says the committee needs more helping hands.

“It takes a lot to do what the trials is all about and that was part of the issue is enough help to get enough things done that need to be done," said lead horse trainer Goree Smith.

Smith is the lead trainer at the Elloree Training Center that hosts the annually sold out event. He says he's received calls from regular attendees as far as New York and Maryland to see the trials and reserve a spot to watch the race.

“There’s certain families and friends that’s here every year since it’s first started and they think they’re apart of it and they are and we wanna have it if we can," said Smith.

For more information about how to get involved with the Elloree Trials, you can contact Howard Shuler via text at 803-682-4677.

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