High Hopes for High Hope

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We used to write editorials about the issues/problems/snafus of steeplechasing. Every two weeks, spring and fall, in Steeplechase Times. Some were easy, some were difficult, some incited riots, some cost us advertising, some cost us jobs.

Wow, I miss those editorials.

 For old time’s sake…

 The High Hope Steeplechase returned to the NSA schedule this year, hosting a four-race card May 18. Welcome back, High Hope.

On behalf of steeplechasing, thanks for returning and we are glad you’re back. The course was in perfect shape, with a lush cover of turf providing cushion and safety. The day was festive – a perfect mix of hospitality and passion. The setting was stunning – white clouds punched across a beautiful blue sky as the Kentucky Horse Park once again showed itself off like a wonder of the world.

On behalf of steeplechasing, we hope the day was a success for High Hope Steeplechase, the Kentucky Horse Park and its beneficiaries.

On behalf of steeplechasing, we apologize for not being more supportive. Short fields make for dull racing, two four-horse fields is disappointing to us as well. We apologize for the sparse representation by the National Steeplechase Association, a few paid stewards and a starter/identifier did a great job but should have had backup. Racemeet director Michelle Primm was listed on the program masthead as the NSA liaison. Really? Steeplechasing will do better. 

 The NSA and its horsemen need to realize that High Hope is one of the most important steeplechase meets of the year. It is one of the last embers of a once-flourishing mid-west racing circuit. Is it ironic or sad to drive past what used to be the Oxmoor Steeplechase on the corner of I-64 and 264 as you leave the Louisville Airport and head to the races? High Hope provides an opportunity for steeplechasing to reach across the border into flat racing. We are all doing this together.

Friends and family of David Greathouse sponsored the opener, Keeneland co-sponsored a race, Darley sponsored the hospitality tent, Nina and Ned Bonnie sponsored the jockey tent, Ashford sponsored the stick horse race, Eaton Sales, Castleton Lyons, Fasig-Tipton, Breeders’ Cup and other big and small racing companies and individuals pitched in for the cause. Hill Parker pulled double duty as clerk of the course and timer. Stuart Morris worked as the paddock judge and placing judge. As always, Bill Wofford ran horses and rallied friends.

Benny Bell Williams organized tables. Rusty Arnold texted, looking for tips for a 5-dollar pool along the outside rail (we could only give him two winners). Tom Biederman thanked us for coming, we thanked him for having us. Stuart Fitzgibbon watched a jump race. Doc Richardson ran a jumper. Harrods Creek and Tahoe Lake made their hurdle debuts – only in steeplechasing can graded stakes horses become maidens again.

High Hope did its part. Did steeplechasing?