Missing the old Steeplechase

Published 5:30 pm Tuesday, May 9, 2017

As long-time Block House Steeplechase goers, our group has enjoyed this event tremendously over the years. As with so many people, Steeplechase has become almost a rite of spring for us.

However, while we were initially excited about the change of venue for the races this year, we were disappointed with a number of aspects of the event once we arrived.

First and foremost, the mega-watt speaker system was just too much. With loud music and non-stop announcements going wire-to-wire for the whole event, it was hard to relax and enjoy the day. Several people in our group actually stuffed balled-up paper in their ears to cut the jolt. At the old FENCE grounds, the there was no music (other than birds singing) and the announcer was spare with comments while calling the races beautifully. It was relaxing, peaceful and easy to mix and mingle.

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Also, the old track had most of its parking spots and vantage points above the track, making it easy to view the races – even if you weren’t really trying that hard. At the new venue, virtually all the parking seemed to be inside and below the track level. It was almost like being in a bowl with the track up along the edges. So unless you had a space right on the rails, it was difficult to see much.

To boot, bathrooms were much harder to find.

And the long-time odds-maker at the event was apparently barred from coming. That’s unfortunate as it adds more fun to the day.

On the positive side, it was nice to see the purses along with the quality and quantity of horses rise significantly. For the first time in a long time, you had races that were highly competitive.

We understand that there are strong financial reasons for moving the venue to the new location. But it would be nice if some things could be adjusted a bit to embrace the old traditions that have made the races such a pleasure to attend over the years.

John Dusenbury, John Barrett, Atlanta, Ga.