Steeplechase course expected to be firm and fast for Saturday's races

Wednesday, May 5, 2010 at 3:40pm
Staff reports

Last weekend’s record-setting rains that caused flooding throughout the area had little, if any effect, on the Iroquois Steeplechase course at Percy Warner Park.

The 69th running of the Iroquois not only is scheduled to go off as planned Saturday, it is expected to be contested in nearly pristine conditions.

“The track is in perfect condition,” Jeff Bradford, a spokesperson for the event, said “It is engineered to drain water off the running surface, and it worked perfectly. The course clerk said that we are looking for firm conditions for the race on Saturday, which, in racing parlance, means dry.”

Bradford stressed that the same conditions exist in all tailgating and spectator areas. He said he was part of a team that inspected the grounds Tuesday and found standing water only in the drainage ditches.

Saturday’s forecast for clear, sunny conditions is in direct contrast to the heavy rains that fell throughout the 2009 event, not to mention the events of last weekend.

“Of course, we realize that the Steeplechase grounds are much more fortunate than many other places in Nashville, where flooding was prevalent,” Bradford said. “In recognition of this tragedy, the Steeplechase is donating to flood relief efforts a portion of its profits from the sale of all race programs and all merchandise sold on race day.”

(Racing begins 1 p.m.)

The Guilford Dudley Jr. Memorial Flat Race (Open Flat): For 3-year-olds and older, 1 ½ miles on the turf.

The Bright Hour Amateur Hurdle (Amateur Hurdle): For 4-year-olds and older, amateur riders, three miles over National Fences.

The Marcellus Frost (Grade III, Hurdle Stakes): For 4-year-olds and older, two miles over National Fences.

The Margaret Currey Henley (Sport of Kings, Filly and Mare Hurdle Stakes): For fillies and mares, 4 years old and older, 2 ¼ miles over National Fences.

The George Sloan and John Sloan Sr.(Sport of Kings Maiden Hurdle): For maidens, 4 years old and older. 2 ¼ miles over National Fences.

The Mason Houghland Memorial (TimberStakes): For 4-year-olds and older, three miles over Timber.

The Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Grade I, Hurdle Stakes): For 4-year-olds and older, three miles over National Fences.