“Ma’am! You can’t go in there!” halted the security guard as I started to cross into the box seat area. My heartrate quickened. All I wanted to do was cross to the other side to my cheap $20 blanketed spot on the grassy hill so I could have a primetime position for the headliner horse race. “Oh, “I’m terribly sorry! I didn’t know!” He directed me to a circuitous path up a hill where literally nobody was walking. Good thing I wore boots. But trudging around was worth it for the last race–a nail-biting finale to a fabulous day at the Iroquois Steeplechase.
We’ve all likely heard the names Preakness, Belmont Stakes, Kentucky Derby, and the Breeders’ Cup even in passing. If you’re really on the ball or have some world exposure, you’ll chip in a race like The Arc out of Paris, France. But if you were playing a game of Jeopardy, you’d likely not name another if not a horse racing aficionado. (And if you could answer another, kudos to you for having some sporting class!) I know I would be tapping out for sure, but I think I may be a convert after an absolutely rousing Saturday at the 75th Annual Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville, Tennessee where I gasped, oooh’d, and ahhh’d my way through seven increasingly dramatic races! And I had an incredible front row seat at the fence right before the finish line to cheer on the horses and jockeys to victory! Even the last race, the day’s namesake, split hairs as three muscular beasts drew even with each other down the stretch in a way-too-close-to-call finish that eventually went Rawnaq’s way after several minutes of tense waiting!
But horse racing alone didn’t carry The Iroquois Steeplechase. 25,000 attendees donned their best dapper attire, carrying divine picnic foods and wines. If you’re looking for a man who owns a powder blue suit with sailing boats on it, this is the place. If you’re looking for every single woman to be dressed to the nines and looking every bit the Southern belle they are, you’re going to find a few thousand in every direction. Except for me–it was cold, and I wore tights and brown suede scrunch boots with a long-sleeve sublimation print dress. Very autumn, but at least the local news validated my attire in the evening when they said, “It felt downright fall outside today!” And I suppose I felt equally validated when I met a lovely college student who exclaimed, “You look like a photographer!” Score one race day win for fall photog fashion at a springtime race. Still, undeniably and thankfully, the fashion-savvy class of the 1st Annual Iroquois Steeplechase is most definitely alive and well.
Not to be outdone, different areas of the grounds offered shopping (mint julep mini-cupcakes!?!?) and a family fun area with pony rides for kids while the massive track interior hosted tons of tents and vehicles for tailgating, dancing, eating, and drinking. I couldn’t particularly see much in those pricier areas; but if a mosh pit of people dancing to “Shout” between races is any indication, you want to have access to the tailgates. And as for the box seats, they were a veritable smorgasbord of fascinators, picnic table spreads, and hobnobbery that would do some of those big hitter races proud!
Check out my video for all of the racing and Southern goodness! And make certain you watch to the end for the exciting finale!
Until next time,