Females taking bigger roles more often in harness racing
Barb Pearl enjoys every minute of her harness racing involvement, including spending time with The Maritimer. Pearl recently acquired her training license and is part of a growing trend of women becoming more involved in harness racing. Matt Veno - Truro Daily News
BIBLE HILL - Barb Pearl was on Cloud 9.
The 52-year-old Urbania resident was overwhelmed with pride a few weeks ago after passing the exam to acquire her standardbred training license.
"I was thrilled," she said. "I always wanted to be more involved and I just thought it was the right thing to do."
It was the latest step in a steady increase of involvement in the sport for Pearl, who became an owner two years ago when she started campaigning MG Battailleur at Truro Raceway. She's also a listed owner of The Maritimer, who will be competing in Saturday's Exhibition Cup - the premier race of the Atlantic Grand Circuit Week festivities this week at the half-mile oval in Bible Hill - and two-year-old Justanothercowboy, which takes to the track Thursday in an Atlantic Sires Stakes event for two-year-old pacing colts.
Pearl is part of a growing trend of females getting increasingly involved in the industry over the past several years, carrying it away from its male-dominated roots.
Slowly but surely, more and more female names are appearing as owners in race programs at Truro such as Andrea Rennison, Dawn Ellis-Abbott, Melissa Hawco, Arleen Gillis and Susan Romo, to name a few.
Alicia Mansfield and Kaitlyn Wesley are on their way to becoming grooms and countless other women and girls spend hours in the stables at the track.
The female influence in the barns is a far cry from days gone by.
"When I go back to my own youth, when I started going to the track it was primarily men and there weren't many women at all," said race office supervisor Diane Daniels. "There's definitely been an increase in women. If we didn't have any women on the backstretch, we would have a hard time putting on a card."
Daniels said the growing number of females in harness racing is only natural as women are heavily involved with horses in other disciplines.
"Women have always had a love affair with the horse," Daniels said. "When you go to shows, females typically outnumber males six to one so it's nice to see them starting to show an interest in the standardbred."
Pearl said she enjoys every minute of her harness racing efforts.
"I think it's a wonderful sport," she said. "Everyone is so helpful and I'd really like to see more women get involved."
She plans to use her training license to help get her yearling, Extra Force, ready for next season's Atlantic Sires Stakes circuit to campaign as a two-year-old.
"I'm really looking forward to it," she said.