Grants Pass, Ore.– The horses were off and running Sunday, as the last races for the Summer 2017 season at the Grants Pass Downs began. There were over 3,030 people there to watch the jockeys speed by, and to make bets on who they thought would come out on top. The total handle Sunday was $63,251.
For horse lovers like Christine Sawyers, coming to Grants Pass Downs has been a long time passion. Her first time to the Downs was 10 years ago in 2007.
Sawyers has ridden horses her whole life, but never expected that racing horses would become such a big part of her life as well. What started as just checking out Grants Pass Downs became a beloved hobby.
Sawyers said that getting to know the Grants Pass Downs community is what really drew her in. She said it made her want to have a horse out on that track.
“Coming here over time, meeting the people that we did, it ended up being a dream of mine,” Sawyer said.
Now Sawyers has racehorses of her own, and she says contrary to popular belief, it can be within anyone’s budget. If you find a partnership like Sawyers did, who owns horses from Washington state to California, she says it can make a race horse far more affordable.
After moving to Oregon to retire in 2005, Sawyers found a community she loves in horse racing. Now she’s a part of the nearly 30,000 people that come to the Grants Pass Downs every race season.
Sawyers said with age, horse racing gives her something she hasn’t found anywhere else– a way to continue her love of horses at her current age, and amidst her retirement.