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Harness horses a serious, passionate business for many county residents

June 21, 2019 Digital Media Exclusive

After winning Monday's s feature race at The Meadows, Slippery Rock's s Renee and Bill Bercury doubled their pleasure, as they captured Tuesday's top event, the $18,000 Filly & Mare Open Handicap Pace, with the outstanding mare Touchamatic.

No horsing around here.

For Bill and Renee Bercury of Slippery Rock, Gary Johnston and his family in Evans City, Bob and Julie Krenitsky in Butler — and others like them — horses are a serious business and have been for a long time.

Numerous Butler County residents are involved in harness horse racing at The Meadows in Washington County, on the fair circuit, and at other tracks in the region.

“We've had horses for 40 years now,” Bill Bercury, 75, said. “I own six horses now and five of them race.

“They're all on different schedules. You can only race once a week. That puts the horses on different schedules. This has become a lifestyle for a lot of people around here,” he said.

About 50 horses are stabled at the Butler Fairgrounds. Bercury has his own stables in Slippery Rock. Krenitsky stables horses in Butler.

A horse can begin qualifying for harness races at 2 years old. Horses can race until they're 14.

A horse will race one day, rest the next, spend a day in the pasture, and be exercised on other days.

Their owners and trainers arrive at the stables around 6:30 a.m. each day. The fairgrounds track has drivers in their buggies, taking horses out for trots around the track to exercise them.

Horses are groomed, washed down, fed and simply worked with all morning. They are taken to The Meadows, Cleveland, Philadelphia or to a fair at any time.

This is an excerpt — pick up Sunday's Butler Eagle to read the full article.