Some things really don’t change much over time. And we’re grateful for that. A beautiful spring day is something of perennial enjoyment. And if you’re one to get swept up in the romance of days gone by, the long history of humans’ relationships to their horses can truly capture the imagination. Maybe that’s why year after year, we look forward to the first balmy days of spring that bring us out onto the grass or into the stands to watch incredibly trained horses and their jockeys race across green fields and leap above gates at breakneck speeds. We don’t need much more than that to get us out to a day at the races, but this year, the My Lady’s Manor Steeplechase will also serve as a benefit for Ladew Topiary Gardens—one of the most gorgeous outdoor settings in Maryland, and one that never fails to draw us outside—whether it’s for a garden walk, some classical music, or their fabulous plant sales. Ladew is truly a national treasure, so we’re more than happy to help support the famous garden while betting on a few horses and—hopefully—sipping some champagne in their honor.
Steeplechasing has a long history here in Maryland. The first recognized steeplechase race was run at Pimlico on October 18, 1873. But north of Pimlico, in Baltimore County, steeplechase races began to form, coming out of competition between various fox hunting clubs. Of course, the fox hunting clubs aren’t as prevalent as in days gone by, but steeplechasing itself remains strong. Though the race is remarkably similar to those of a century ago, there are a few modern perks; this year’s My Lady’s Manor Steeplechase will also feature the John Rush Streett Memorial Steeplechase, and the John D. Schapiro Memorial Steeplechase and there will be live music by Local Knowledge, vendors, food and a champagne reception for the winners at Ladew.
This particular race’s history is so rich that the founders of the My Lady’s Manor Point-to-Point included Charles Morgan Pearce, of one of Maryland’s oldest families. Pearce would probably be proud to see the race still thriving over one hundred years later. In fact, the race has stuck so close to its history that on Sunday April 25, 1909, the Baltimore Sun reported that the My Lady’s Manor Point-to-Point, “attracted a great number of lovers of racing, and there was some fine sport.” The Union News declared the weather “good, sunny and cool” and remarked on the “beautiful turnouts in which sat the elite of the countryside.” We’ll be counting ourselves among those elites next weekend.
The My Lady’s Manor Steeplechase races take place Saturday, April 12th. Gates open at 10:00 am, with the first race at 1:30 pm. The races are located at Jarrettsville Pike (MD 146) and Pocock Road. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.marylandsteeplechasing.com.
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