The National Steeplechase Association’s condition book for the 2018 spring season is out, and the lineup promises record-smashing purses and the launch of the new Georgia Steeplechase meet.
The program developed by NSA Director of Racing Bill Gallo Jr. will offer $2,890,000 in purses, up from the record $2,780,400 in 2017. After the condition book was posted, the Grand National purse was raised by 66% to $50,000.
Heading the spring program is the Iroquois Steeplechase on Saturday, May 12, at Nashville’s Percy Warner Park. The NSA’s premier Midwest meet will offer $525,000 in purses, headed by the $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) and the $100,000 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices.
The Virginia Gold Cup meet a week earlier at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains will offer $425,000 in purses. With attendance of approximately 70,000, the meet will be headlined by the $100,000 Virginia Gold Cup for timber horses and the $75,000 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) for hurdle competitors.
After the season kicks off on March 24 at the Aiken Spring Races, the action moves to Camden, S.C., for the Carolina Cup meet, which this year will be headlined by the $150,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) and the $75,000 Carolina Cup for novices. Purses for the 86th Carolina Cup meet are projected at $325,000.
The historic Temple Gwathmey Handicap at the Middleburg Spring Races on April 21 will receive a $25,000 purse increase, to $75,000, and it will move up the ladder to Grade 2 status from Grade 3. In all, the meet at Middleburg’s Glenwood Park will offer $200,000 in purses.
Completing the spring’s graded stakes schedule is the $50,000 National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) at the Radnor Hunt Races in Malvern, Pa., on May 19. Also on the Radnor program will be the $30,000 Radnor Hunt Cup over timber fences.
Two reconstituted meets, the Georgia Steeplechase and the Tryon Block House Races, will occupy the respective first two Saturdays in April. The inaugural Georgia Steeplechase at Kingston Downs will offer $100,000 in purses, and the Tryon Block House meet at the new Green Creek Race Course will pay out $150,000.
A third spring opportunity for novices—horses in their first seasons of racing over fences—will be the $75,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase at the Queen’s Cup Steeplechase near Charlotte, N.C., on April 28. The Queen’s Cup meet, now in its 23rd year, will offer $150,000 in purse money.
The Maryland timber triple crown races will occupy their usual places on the spring calendar. My Lady’s Manor kicks off the historic series on April 14, the Grand National follows a week later, and the $100,000 Maryland Hunt Cup will be staged for the 122nd time on April 28.