The National Steeplechase Association’s spring season will offer nearly $2.5-million in purses, with significant increases for Sport of Kings maiden hurdles and novice stakes races. The spring schedule was approved by the NSA Board of Directors at its annual joint meeting with the Race Chairmen at the National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg, Va., on Jan. 23.
In all, 2015 spring purses are more than $300,000 above last year despite the loss of Colonial Downs’ Dogwood Classic from the schedule. As was previously announced, purses for maiden races over hurdles will carry a minimum $15,000 purse.
“The race chairmen have stepped up and raised purses significantly for the new season,” said NSA Director of Racing Bill Gallo Jr. “That purse money, mostly raised through sponsorships and ticket sales within their communities, contributes greatly to our efforts to encourage horse ownership.”
The spring’s richest race again will be the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) at Nashville’s Percy Warner Park near Nashville on Saturday, May 9. The Iroquois Steeplechase also is the spring’s richest race meet, with a total of $415,000 in purses and $20,000 in bonuses for amateur or apprentice jockeys.
The historic Midwest meet also offers the $75,000 Marcellus Frost Stakes for novices, the $50,000 Margaret Currey Henley Stakes for fillies and mares, and the $50,000 Mason Houghland Memorial timber stakes.
All Sport of Kings maiden hurdles will carry a minimum purse of $30,000 this year, up from $25,000, and Iroquois will offer a $40,000 purse in its Sport of Kings race.
Also offering a $40,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle will be the Virginia Gold Cup on the previous weekend. The meet at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains offers pari-mutuel racing and will have the spring’s second-highest purses at $400,000, up from $250,000 last year.
Headlining the Virginia Gold Cup will be the year’s richest timber race, the $90,000 Virginia Gold Cup, and also featured will be the $75,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2) over hurdles.
The novice stakes races are a part of the Sport of Kings series, and receiving $25,000 purse increases for 2015 will be the $75,000 Carolina Cup on March 28 and the $75,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase at the Queen’s Cup near Charlotte, N.C., on April 25.
The spring stakes schedule kicks off with the $50,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 3) at the season’s opener, the Aiken Spring Steeplechase on March 21. The Middleburg Spring meet on April 18 will be highlighted by the $50,000 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3), and the Radnor Hunt Races in Pennsylvania will offer the $50,000 National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) on May 16.
The historic Maryland timber triple again will conclude with the $75,000 Maryland Hunt Cup on April 25. The series also includes the $30,000 My Lady’s Manor on April 11 and the $30,000 Grand National on April 18.
Here is the spring 2015 schedule:
Race Meet Date Location
Aiken Spring Sat., March 21 Aiken, SC
Carolina Cup Sat., March 28 Camden, SC
Stoneybrook Sat., April 4 Southern Pines, NC
My Lady’s Manor Sat., April 11 Monkton, MD
Atlanta Sat., April 18 Kingston, GA
Grand National Sat., April 18 Butler, MD
Middleburg Spring Sat., April 18 Middleburg, VA
Foxfield Spring Sat., April 25 Charlottesville, VA
Maryland Hunt Cup Sat., April 25 Glyndon, MD
Queen’s Cup Sat., April 25 Mineral Springs, NC
Block House Sat., May 2 Tryon, NC
Virginia Gold Cup Sat., May 2 The Plains, VA
Winterthur Sun., May 3 Wilmington, DE
Iroquois Sat., May 9 Nashville, TN
Willowdale Sun., May 10 Kennett Square, PA
Radnor Sat., May 16 Malvern, PA
High Hope Sun., May 17 Lexington, KY
Fair Hill Sat., May 23 Fair Hill, MD