Horses Ready for 75th Running of Iroquois Steeplechase on Saturday

Posted on May 13 2016 - 2:49pm by Mike Strasinger
The 75th running of the Iroquois Steeplechase  takes place on Saturday at Percy Warner Park. - File Photo by Mike Strasinger

The 75th running of the Iroquois Steeplechase takes place on Saturday at Percy Warner Park. – File Photo by Mike Strasinger

From The Iroquois Steeplechase –

The Iroquois Steeplechase has been Nashville’s rite of spring since 1941, attracting more than 25,000 spectators annually to watch the best horses and riders in the world race over hurdles and timber on a manicured turf track.

Held the second Saturday of each May at Percy Warner Park, this iconic sporting event is Music City’s annual celebration of time‐honored traditions, Tennessee hospitality and Southern fashions. Guests enjoy areas for families, well‐appointed tents and individually organized tailgates where the emphasis is on race day pickings, larger‐than‐life hats, Honey Jack Juleps and crowd‐pleasing recipes.

Owners, trainers, sponsors, and sporting fans gathered at the Steeplechase Barn Thursday morning for the traditional post position drawing and breakfast, sponsored by FarmVet. Enthusiasts of the sport mingled and soaked in the beauty of the morning at Percy Warner Park as the post positions for each of Saturday’s seven races were drawn from a leather bag.

The Iroquois Steeplechase is run by the nonprofit, 501c3 organization The Volunteer State Horsemen’s Foundation who manages and produces a world-class event and promotes the sport and the spirit of steeplechasing throughout the community.

Through its work and the Iroquois Steeplechase, the foundation also supports several local organizations by way of race proceeds.

Since being designated as one of our primary beneficiaries in 1981, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt has received more than $10 million from The Volunteer State Horsemen’s Foundation (VSHF) proceeds. The Iroquois Steeplechase staff, as well as the VSHF board, are involved with the hospital year round–contributing time, supporting endowments, and continuing the long-standing association of the event and the children. Learn more about the impact of the VSHF on the hospital in the 2015 Impact Report here.

In addition, our organization supports other deserving non-profits and charities, such as Friends of Warner Parks. The VSHF pays special attention to the preservation of the Percy Warner Park grounds, and all improvements to the Iroquois Steeplechase grounds are paid for by the foundation from race proceeds. That maintenance provides year-round benefits and enhancements for the Equestrian Center at Percy Warner Park. For more details, please read the Friends of Warner Park Impact Report here.

Post Positions for the Iroquois were drawn on Thursday.

Nichols Canyon and Shaneshill, two horses from Ireland who have traveled to Nashville to compete in the seventh race, the Iroquois, will take the first and fifth posts, respectively, for the final race of the day.

SEVENTH RACE (#69). Purse $200,000. THE CALVIN HOUGHLAND IROQUOIS (Grade I). Hurdle Stakes. 3 Miles over National Fences. POST TIME: 4:30 p.m.

In honor of its diamond anniversary, the Iroquois Steeplechase and the world-famous Cheltenham Racecourse in England have produced the Brown Advisory Iroquois Cheltenham Challenge–a partnership that can now boast one of the largest payouts of any steeplechase event in the world: any horse to complete the Challenge would earn nearly a million dollars.

The Brown Advisory Challenge is straightforward: win Nashville’s Grade 1 Calvin Houghland Iroquois Hurdle Stakes on May 14th and the Group 1 Ryanair World Hurdle at Cheltenham in March 2017. Both are three-mile races on turf over fences. Between the two purses and the $500,000 bonus, total winnings would exceed approximately $960,000.

The bonus, which hinges on a horse winning both races within the space of 12 months, opens the door to those who are even placed at Cheltenham this March to make the trip to Tennessee in May–and, if winning there, try to gain the bonus at The Festival in March 2017.

The Brown Advisory Challenge looks to reignite the cross-Atlantic rivalry that has been a part of steeplechase racing through history, and this challenge is a significant one. To learn more about the Brown Advisory Challenge, email Dwight here.


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