The Inside Rail

Miles and I went to a birthday party Saturday. Atomic Trampoline. In Leesburg. I'm not sure what they call it, perhaps, a Contrived Community...there are houses and houses, shops and shops, sprawl and sprawl. Interesting in a way, certainly convenient, but a long way from the Leesburg I remember. Miles enjoyed the party, the pizza was decent, ice cream organic and the cleanup was minimal. 

Driving out, I somehow wound up on a road that felt familiar, passing mounds of dirt, silt fences and houses made out of ticky tacky, I thought to myself, "Isn't this where Fairfax used to be...?" Frankly, it's so different, I'm not even sure if the old racecourse was on that road, it could have been on a nearby road and I certainly didn't see the old signature white board fence or the metal barrels or the S turn in the bottom. I thought of a few horses, a few memories – Joey winning a junior race on Ski Lift, Student Dancer finishing second at the point-to-point (in my second hurdle ride) Bewray earning a nose photo in the maiden claimer, Hurler and Haygormay...just memories blowing in the wind, another course gone. 

I rode steeplechase races from 1988 to 2000. Off the top of my head, I rode at the following tracks which are gone from the schedule.

St. James

Tanglewood

Stoneybrook

Keeneland

Churchill Downs

Laurel Park

Pimlico

Delaware Park

Suffolk

Marengo

Georgetown

Morven Park

Brookhill

St. Louis

Hard Scuffle

Atlanta Steeplechase

Calder

Tampa Bay Downs

Sugarberry

Fair Hill Fall

Atlantic City

Red Bank

Oxmoor

Mason-Dixon

Colonial Cup

Strawberry Hill

Saratoga Open House

Garden State Park

Dueling Grounds

Fairfax

Most are long gone. Some of the major tracks are still racing, but won't host steeplechase racing this year. That’s 30 tracks in less than 20 years. It is our sport’s biggest threat.