After traveling from Fargo, North Dakota to South Carolina, Ryan Roshau was enjoying his first Breakfast at the Gallops experience on a sunny Friday morning at the Aiken practice track.
“I think it’s magical – the setting, the beautiful day, the horses and the people socializing,” he said. “It seems like an unofficial kickoff to spring and where to be.”
The galloping breakfast took place on the eve of Aiken’s trials, which Roshau was planning to attend for the third time.
“I’ve always been a racing fan,” he said. “When you grow up as a kid, kind of in the middle of nowhere, you watch the Triple Crown races (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes) on TV.”
Roshau heard about Aiken by reading him in a book.
The late Summer Squall, who won the 1990 Preakness while racing for Dogwood Stable, still ranks among Roshau’s favorite thoroughbred racehorses.
“I work for Wells Fargo bank as a manager,” he said. “I have to make three trips a year to Colombia, and I can pretty much tell when they are. I said, ‘How does mid-March work?’ So here I am.
During the breakfast gallop, the public had the opportunity to watch the Thoroughbreds practice while eating a light breakfast of fruit and bacon, ham and sausage biscuits.
This year’s special guest was Thoroughbred racing analyst and broadcaster Caton Bredar. She spoke to attendees, who gathered near and at the Cot Campbell Clockers booth. Aiken resident Jack Sadler, who is the president of the South Carolina Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association, also spoke.
Sadler is also vice president of operations for Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners.
The Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum will benefit from the money generated from the sale of Breakfast at the Gallops tickets.
“After we pay our bills (for the event), we will have a good chunk of it, and it will help us organize and maintain exhibits,” said museum coordinator Lisa Hall.
In 2021, Breakfast at the Gallops was canceled due to concerns over COVID-19.
About 40 more tickets were sold this year than in 2020 for Breakfast at the Gallops, Hall reported.
“We’re glad the weather cooperated and are grateful to the practice track for allowing us to be here,” she said.
In the crowd, in addition to Roshau, were Thoroughbred owners and breeders Jim and Debbie Lee, who are residents of Aiken.
“Probably our most famous horse, Daisy Devine, was trained here by Brad Stauffer and Ron Stevens (of Legacy Stable),” Debbie said.
Daisy Devine has won 10 of her 22 career races and earned $1,095,892.
In 2011, Daisy Devine beat St. John’s River by half a length in the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II) in Louisiana in March then raced in the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) in May at Churchill Downs, where she finished seventh.
Other races won by Daisy Devine include the Jenny Wiley Stakes (gr. IT), Cardinal Handicap (gr. IIIT) and Pin Oak Valley View Stakes (gr. IIIT).
The Lees are the breeders and owners of a 2-year-old colt named Whiskey and Easy, whose name was inspired by Aiken.
“I couldn’t believe anyone had ever named a horse like that, with Cot Campbell here and everyone else (involved in thoroughbred racing) here,” Debbie said.
She added that she was having fun at Breakfast at the Gallops.
“We love the practice track and we love the people at Aiken,” Debbie said. “It’s Aiken, so you have to show up every time there’s a party.”
The Aiken practice track is at 538 Two Notch Road SE
The Aiken Trials will kick off the Aiken Triple Crown. The Aiken Spring Steeplechase is scheduled for March 26 and Pacers & Polo will take place on April 2.