Mike Nolan in the Daily Southtown reports…..More than a year after Balmoral Park hosted its final harness races, the storied track’s transformation into a new destination for horse enthusiasts is taking shape.
Come May, the 200-acre property is expected to attract thousands of participants and spectators to horse show-jumping competitions as part of a circuit of similar events held around the country by the track’s new owner, Horse Shows in the Sun, or HITS.
Much of the oval track and a good chunk of the infield are gone, being replaced with 10 arenas, or rings, where riders will compete. The main ring, closest to Balmoral’s grandstand, will incorporate the track’s tote board and finish line marker.
Competitions will start in mid-May and continue through September, and what HITS hopes to bring to south suburban Crete and the surrounding area is a replica of the show-jumping events it holds at sites around the United States, including at properties it owns near Ocala, Fla.; in Thermal, Calif., near Palm Springs; Culpeper, Va.; and its home base in Saugerties, N.Y.
It’s expected that, during any given week, between 3,000 and 5,000 people directly or indirectly connected with the competitions, excluding spectators, could make Balmoral and the surrounding area their home, according to Siri DuPont-Hurley, HITS’ administrative coordinator at Balmoral.
“People who compete will make this area their home for the summer,” DuPont-Hurley said. “They’ll be staying in hotels, renting homes. It will be a real boost.”
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