Rain doesn’t dampen steeplechase race spirits

Published 3:17 pm Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sonora Hartzog was busy balancing her big, golden steeple hat on her head as she walked around the track, followed by three friends wearing horse hats. Together, they formed a version of the Steeplechase.

But when the rain started, Hartzog and her friends left the track and returned to their spot in the audience among the thousands who braved the predicted wet weather for the 62nd Annual Block House Steeplechase held at FENCE last Saturday.

The scattered showers weren&squo;t enough to dim the spirits of the racegoers in attendance on Saturday.

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At the sound of every horn, the track was lined with people who wanted to catch a glimpse of the horses as they thundered around the track.

And their moans and cheers, possibly reflecting their bets, could be heard as Classy Brute upset Underbidder in the Carolina First Block House race.

Classy Brute, ridden by jockey Will Haynes of Bristol, Tenn.,&bsp; won in a photo finish.

One result of the weather was that more tents were set up this year than usual. The landscape was scattered with different colored and different sized tents that shielded onlookers from water instead of sun this year.

Water boots appeared to be popular attire for the races,&bsp; along with umbrellas that dotted the space in the infield and around the track.

At moments, the sun appeared and cheers rang out from spectators hoping that sunlight would once again rule the day. Although the clouds returned, moods weren&squo;t dampened as the parties, the cheers and the races continued on for the 62nd consecutive year.

The sun shone brightest as the racegoers were packing up and heading out of the gates, but the smiles still were prevalent as people piled in the backs of trucks, snapped final pictures to mark their experience at the grand race as they left the horses and the track behind until next year.