The National Steeplechase Association has released its fall calendar consisting of an abbreviated schedule of seven sanctioned race meets to be contested between Sept. 26 and Nov. 15. The modified schedule is due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The schedule kicks off at Shawan Downs Sept. 26, followed by Foxfield Fall Races Oct. 4, Virginia Fall Races Oct. 10, the International Gold Cup Oct. 24, the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup Nov. 1, the Steeplechase at Callaway Nov. 7 and the Steeplechase of Charleston Nov. 15.
Each race meet will continue to follow guidelines recommended by the CDC and Prevention. Participation will be limited to essential personnel only, all of whom will be required to wear face masks and practice social distancing. As of this date, racing will be conducted with limited attendance or no fans at all.
Five meets have decided to postpone until 2021. Those are High Hope in Lexington,Ky., Gennessee Valley in Geneseo, N.Y., the Far Hills Race Meeting in Far Hills, N.J., Aiken Fall Steeplechase in Aiken, S.C., and Montpelier Hunt Races in Montpelier Station, Va. The Lonesome Glory and William Entenmann stakes races at Belmont Park in September have also been cancelled for 2020.
No hurdle stakes races have been carded for the fall. The emphasis will be on conditions that give timber and hurdle horse owners maximum opportunity to secure purse earnings, such as maiden and claiming races, ratings handicaps, and open timber events. There are also a number of races to give apprentice riders a chance to gain experience.
“We have been working tirelessly with all of the stakeholders to sustain steeplechase racing during these unprecedented and incredibly challenging times,” said NSA President Al Griffin. “Our number one goal is to keep our sport viable while ensuring the health and safety of our fans, owners, trainers, and riders. Our race meets are going to great lengths to host these events for our constituents, and we pledge our full supportto make them a success.”