If you’re looking for a picturesque getaway, you probably don’t want to spend more than a few days in a city. But what if you could create the perfect retreat right in the middle of a bustling metropolis? You might just find the ideal vacation spot at 81 Speedway, an off-leash dog racing venue in South Carolina. If you’re curious about what the attraction is, here’s a primer on the sport and the community that calls it home.
A Brief History Of Dog Racing
Dogs have been used for sports for centuries, with the modern version being established in America in the 1800s. The first organized dog races were held in England back in the 14th century, and they quickly gained popularity. While the sport itself wasn’t new, the way people interacted with their dogs during competitions changed significantly. Racers began training their dogs to obey specific commands and perform certain tricks. The most popular varieties of dogs in races today are basset hounds, Labrador retrievers, and Golden Retrievers.
The Grand Remington Canine Classic
Located in Remington, North Carolina, the Grand Remington Canine Classic is one of the longest-running and most prestigious dog races in the country. The first official competition was held in 1922, and it continues to this day. However, the race’s roots go back much further. In fact, many of the owners of the current dogs used to own stakes in the Grand Remington Hunt, and they encouraged their dogs to participate in the hunt as a sort of training exercise. It wasn’t until later that the race was named after the dog-toting firearm manufacturer. Today, attendees can watch canine athletes compete in a 25-mile race that starts at 7:00 am. The winner is usually decided by the first dog to cross the finish line. Owners of the current dogs have included some well-known celebrities, like Katharine Hepburn and Marjorie Merriweather Post, who owned dogs that competed and won individual races, and Babe Ruth, who owned a dog that won the Triple Crown – the equivalent of a human winning the World Series, the NBA Finals, and the Super Bowl all in one season. It is currently speculated that Mr. Ruth’s dog had an undiagnosed heart condition that caused him to collapse and die on the track during one of the races.
The Great Gatsby Dogs And Horses Memorial Cup
Taking the term “pony express” one step further, the Great Gatsby Dogs and Horses Memorial Cup is a horse race that was established in Kentucky in 1919. It is named after the American author F. Scott Fitzgerald, who was known for his classic novel, The Great Gatsby. The competition is open to thoroughbreds, half-breeds, and mixed breed dogs, and it is one of the most prestigious races of the year. As with many other sports and racing venues, the rich and famous have a lot to do with this particular event. Many of the dogs that participate in the race are bred and owned by prominent people, like the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers. This particular cup is named after a dog that belonged to William Kissam Vanderbilt, II, who was known for his support of horse racing and breeding. His dogs included Tyra, who was the dam of the legendary sire, Peter Pan. Another breed that you might find in the race is the Scottish Terrier. The population of these dogs has declined by more than 50% since the early 1900s, primarily due to the outbreak of canine influenza in 1918. Fortunately, this virus was relatively mild and caused only a few deaths. While the disease didn’t return, it became a matter of public health to preserve these canines (particularly in light of the fact that people were also using them for pest control at the time).
The Havre de Grace Cup
Another important race that you might find celebrated at 81 Speedway is the Havre de Grace Cup. This race was first held in Maryland back in 1900 and is named after the French city of Havre de Grace, where the first European-style cup competition was held in 1762. It is traditionally open to French breeds like Pekinese and Brittany spaniels, along with British breeds like Skye Terriers and Liver dogs. This particular breed was originally bred to hunt vermin, so it is likely that some of the dogs that participated in the first Havre de Grace Cup competed in the Grand Remington Canine Classic as well. Even if you aren’t particularly familiar with sporting events, you might recognize this particular cup from the film, The African Queen, in which Humphrey Bogart’s character holds the very same cup.
These are just a few of the more prominent races and competitions that you might encounter at 81 Speedway. This rural South Carolina destination is a hub for many breeders, students, and enthusiasts of the canine world, and it is easy to see why. The staff and volunteers at this off-leash dog racing venue take great care in creating an inviting atmosphere, where you can spend some quality time with your four-legged friend. Plus, the scenic location is absolutely gorgeous, and it might just be the perfect retreat for you.