4/26/2002 - Thousands of spectators will gather at Nashvilles Percy Warner Park on Saturday, May 11, for one of Tennessees most revered horseracing traditions and largest fund-raisers for Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital.
The 61st Annual Iroquois Steeplechase is sponsored by the Volunteer State Horsemens Foundation in association with Friends of Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital. More than 80 volunteer committees have been working to plan the event, and more than 600 volunteers will be helping out on race day.
The Iroquois Steeplechase is one of the most charitable steeplechasing events in the United States. Since its affiliation with Vanderbilt Childrens Hospital in 1981, the Iroquois has raised more than $5 million to help provide specialized pediatric care to area patients, regardless of their ability to pay.
A steeplechase is defined as a horse race over obstacles made of natural or artificial materials. The sport dates back to 18th century Ireland, when squires on their way home from fox hunting would race over fields and fences toward a distant church steeple. The Iroquois is named in honor of the first American-bred horse to win the English Derby. After his retirement, Iroquois stood at stud at Belle Meade Plantation, one of the most important Thoroughbred farms of its era.
The program is the richest of the National Steeplechase Associations spring schedule, with purses of $280,000. It features seven races over a specially designed three-mile course, as well as many of the best-known trainers, jockeys and horses in the sport. More than 50 riders will compete for the prize money.
Gates open at 9:30 a.m., and the races begin at 1 p.m. with starts approximately every 30 minutes. Percy Warner Park is located on Old Hickory Boulevard between Hillsboro Road and Hwy 100.
General admission is $10 in advance or $12 at the gate, with a $25 family pack for a group of four. Children under six are admitted free. Tickets are available at all Bank of America locations before race day, on the Web site www.iroquoissteeplechase.org, and at the gate on the day of the race. Steeplechase caps, T-shirts, posters, blankets, gift bags, and other items are on sale at the Childrens Hospital development office and will also be available at the park on race day. Call 343-4231 for information or visit the Web site at www.iroquoissteeplechase.org.©2013 Vanderbilt University Medical Center