OXFORD – Allison MacDonald of South Paris is well-placed to race his horses at the Oxford County Fair this year.

After all, he stables them all, year-round, inside the large new horse barn next to the racetrack.

He owns a dozen horses outright, and shares a half-ownership in about six more. On Wednesday, the fair’s opening day, MacDonald and his sons Alex and Clarke were busy tending to the stable of Standardbred stallions and mares in the barn MacDonald leases from builder Buddy Burke.

Opening ceremonies for the first race were about to begin. The men planned to race at least three of their horses Wednesday, and see how things went.

Winning horses earn their owners half the purse for that race. But MacDonald said it’s horse-training, not horse-racing, that earns him his keep.

“I don’t gamble on my horses,” said MacDonald, a horse trainer who moved to Paris from Prince Edward Island, Canada, 13 years ago. “I don’t talk about them when they go out, and I don’t watch the races.”

Spectators who do watch the races, and place bets on them, had already begun to gather two hours before post time. They brought lawn chairs and sat in the shade under an awning, facing the finish line of the track, which has been groomed and was expected to be faster than 2003, the racetrack’s inaugural year.

There will be 10 races a day during the four-day fair, which ends Saturday.

Wednesday’s opening ceremonies for the track were led by the Anderson-Staples American Legion Post and featured Reggie Littlefield, of the 94th Military Police Company, who just returned from 15 months in Iraq. Stephanie Bellwood of Oxford sang the national anthem.

Wednesday was education day at the fair, and schoolchildren were offered a close-up look at farm animals and agricultural exhibitions. Today will be senior citizens’ day, followed by woodsman’s day on Friday and 4-H day on Saturday.

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