NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After more than two years, the mid-state tradition of the Iroquois Steeplechase returned this weekend.
People dressed in their race-day best flocked to Percy Warner Park Saturday to see the horses and enjoy the festivities.
The race usually happens in May, but because of the evolving pandemic health guidelines, it was pushed June.
“We were a little nervous because a lot of people had planned their family vacations and they're used to the second Saturday in May,” said trustee of the Race Committee, Alex Wade. "You know if you don’t go to a race for two or three years you may not go back so we want this every year. We want it to continue."
But the date change brought its own challenges. Due to the heat, the race had to be shortened. Instead of its original three miles, it'll be two to three-quarter miles.
“We have probably one of the largest number of horses we’ve had in a long time. We have 68 horses running today in the seven races,” said chairman of the Race Committee, Dwight Hall.
Despite more than a year of COVID hurdles, organizers- and horses- made it to the finish line. “Losing a year loses momentum and we couldn’t afford to lose another year,” said Wade.
But in Steeplechase tradition, it wasn’t just about the horses- hats and outfits were a feast for the eyes around the racetrack. The day also included contests like best hat, overall style, and best tailgate.
However, even more important than the pageantry is the cause. “We’ve given back $10 million to [Monroe Carell Jr.] Children’s Hospital since 1981, we give contributions to Friends of Warner Park,” said Hall.
The event’s triumphant return brought spectators new and old and kept the tradition going. “We’ll be back next year that’s for sure," said a young Nashville resident and first-time attendee, Dan Wright. "We will definitely be back next year.”