National Steeplechase Association racing, its spring season decimated by the novel coronavirus pandemic, would return in late May and run through June under a tentative schedule that was announced on Monday.
NSA Director of Racing Bill Gallo developed the tentative schedule after consulting with all race meets over the last several weeks. In a letter to horsemen, he noted that all conditions and purses are subject to change.
“Our race meets are leaders within their communities, and they have responded proactively and responsibly to this global crisis,” said the NSA’s president, Dr. Al Griffin Jr. “The health and safety of everyone—our communities, our patrons, our horsemen—always come first.
“Some meets have had to make the difficult decision to cancel, and they will return in the spring of 2021. Others have tentatively rescheduled their meets outside the anticipated time frame for the most stringent restraints on public interaction,” said Dr. Griffin, who is co-chairman of the Virginia Gold Cup.
“As always, the NSA and our race meets would follow the requirements and recommendations of state and federal governments to assure public health and safety.”
Under the tentative schedule, the season would open on Saturday, May 30, with the Middleburg Spring Races, which would be marking its centenary in northern Virginia. The Glenwood Park meet would feature the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2) over hurdles and the Middleburg Hunt Cup over timber fences.
The Fair Hill Races tentatively would be run Saturday, June 6, at Shawan Downs in suburban Baltimore. Its feature would be the Valentine Memorial, a ratings handicap hurdle. Fair Hill’s course in northern Maryland currently is under construction and is expected to reopen for a spring meet next year.
A doubleheader tentatively has been scheduled for the weekend of June 13 and 14. The 43rd annual Foxfield Spring Races in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, June 13, would feature the Daniel Van Clief Memorial maiden hurdle.
The Cheshire Point-to-Point would stage its first NSA-sanctioned race, the Louis Neilson III amateur apprentice timber race, on Sunday, June 14, at the Cheshire race course in Unionville, Pa. The three-mile race honors the memory of Paddy Neilson, a highly respected and well-liked steeplechase horseman who died last year.
The Virginia Gold Cup on Saturday, June 20, at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains would highlight its signature race, the Virginia Gold Cup over timber fences, and the David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) over hurdles.
The Iroquois Steeplechase would feature the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) at Nashville’s Percy Warner Park on Saturday, June 27. Also on the tentative Iroquois program are the Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices, the Margaret Currey Henley for fillies and mares, and the Green Pastures Ratings Handicap Hurdle.
The tentative revised conditions for the race meets are available on the NSA website, www.nationalsteeplechase.com.