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Wednesday is ladies night at the Crooked River Roundup Race Meet with races continuing nightly through Saturday

Riders come off the final corner in last year's Crooked River Roundup Race Meet. The races, which start Wednesday night, run through Saturday, with gates opening at 5:30 p.m. nightly and post time for race one scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Wednesday is ladies night, with all women getting in to the races free of charge. The Crooked River Roundup Race Meet is ready to go.

Organizers have been working hard since the conclusion of the annual Prineville Truck and Tractor Pull this past Saturday night to prepare the grounds and track for the races, which start Wednesday night.

"We are actually a little bit ahead this year, which is nice," Roundup race director Dean Noyes said Monday morning. "We have a great group of volunteers that help make this happen."

The big race Wednesday night is the Oregon Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association stakes race.

"Wednesday is ladies night," Noyes said. "Then we kind of build from there."

Ladies can attend the races Wednesday free of charge.

In addition, the sixth race Wednesday is the Bernard Race. The race is set to honor three generations of Bernards who have helped with the horse races.

Jerry Bernard has been a long-time member of the Crooked River Roundup Board of Directors, while his son, Brett, is also on the board, and several other family members volunteer each year at the races.

"We are going to give credit to three generations of the Bernard family," Noyes said. "From Jerry and his son and then Jerry's grandkids who all help put this event on."

Noyes added that on Thursday, race organizers are going to have an additional race, which recognizes multi-generation families who help make the races happen.

Both Wednesday and Thursday, the minimum purse for each race is $3,200, while Friday and Saturday, the minimum purse is $3,500.

Noyes said that the purses are higher than for other small race meets in Oregon, which has attracted a sizeable number of owners and trainers.

"We have attracted quite a few horsemen from other areas," he said. "The thing that foretells our entries is our stalls, and we have a full house again this year, so that's always a good thing."

Wednesday and Thursday nights each have eight races on the card, while Friday and Saturday each have 10 races.

As of Monday, horses were already arriving at the fairgrounds with more horses expected to arrive throughout the week.

Saturday is the biggest night of racing with several big races on the card.

The Jack Rhoden Memorial Bonus Challenge, which has the largest purse of the race meet, is set for the third race Saturday night.

"People are going to want to make sure that they get there early because it is running a little sooner than it has been in the past," Noyes said.

Other big races on Saturday include the Woodward Memorial, which is the eighth race of the night, the Art Smith Memorial (the ninth race), and the final race of the evening, the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association Stakes.

"All those races together make Saturday a hot ticket," Noyes said. "We have quite a few big races — of course."

Noyes added that the race meet wouldn't be possible without the scores of volunteers and the sponsors who help make the purses so large.

"The best thing that we are trying to do is we have reinvested into these purses, and we get community sponsors to help out with that in order to attract a broader spectrum of horses," he said. "It's been very effective. Other than that, I just want to make sure that we really acknowledge all the volunteers because we have so many people who have helped out with this thing. It's always a great experience for us. It's the community — that is how these events get pulled off."

Tickets are $7 nightly, with children 12 and under getting in free. Gates open each night at 5:30 p.m. with post time for the first race at 7:15 p.m. nightly.

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