Montana Horse Racing

Brenda Wahler's new book is "Montana Horse Racing: A History." Wahler showed horses in the 1970s and 1980s, and was also an instructor. In addition, she has judged horse shows.

The Butte-Silver Bow Public Archives will continue its Brown Bag Lunch series at noon Wednesday, July 24, with a presentation and reading by Brenda Wahler as she discusses her new book, “Montana Horse Racing: A History.

For centuries, on prairie grasslands, dusty streets and racing ovals, everyday Montanans participated in the sport of kings. Over a century after horses arrived in the region, Lewis and Clark's Nez Perce guides staged horse races at Traveler’s Rest in 1806. Helena led the way to respectable racing with Madam Coady’s one-mile track hosting the first territorial fair in 1868. 

In response to hazardous street races, Montana Territory's legislature granted communities authority to ban “immoderate riding or driving”. Consequently, leading citizens like Marcus Daly built oval tracks and glitzy grandstands. 

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In 1890, a part-thoroughbred named Bob Wade set a world record for a quarter mile in Butte, a mark that stood until 1958.

Wahler, a fourth-generation Montanan with a lifelong interest in horses and history, highlights the Big Sky’s courageous equines of the turf — from local champions to Kentucky Derby winner Spokane.

Guests are encouraged to bring a sack lunch. Coffee and water will be provided. Details: 406-782-3280.

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