On A High Note

Iroquois Steeplechase – from triumph to tragedy

Martha Ivester, Paige Green & Jennifer Hinds

As early spring begins to flower and soft rains begin to fall, the South comes alive with new activities and many in hope of a new and fresh start after a dreary winter. And for many southerners, those “activities” include planning for and shopping for the annual, celebrated event of Steeplechase.

Steeplechase Jockey Club pre-party
From the Jockey Club pre-party, to the day of the event, many hurriedly flurry to make arrangements for the “perfect” event. The food at the pre-party was quite delectable, offering grilled chicken with mango salsa, a 3-cheese macaroni that was all but to die for, a gorgeous salad – complete with blue cheese crumbles and pecans – and fresh steamed asparagus, carrots, and mushrooms. And of course, brownies, chocolate chip cookies and other sweet delights were the perfect top off.

Brett James & Jonathan Singleton

Brett James & Jonathan Singleton

Steeplechase pre-party entertainment by Nashville HIT songwriters
Music at the event was provided by hit songwriters, Jonathan Singleton and Brett James; Jonathan graced the group with such hits as: “Why Don’t We Just Dance,” “Red Light”, and “Watching Airplanes.” And Brett James shared: “Out Last Night”& “When the Sun Goes Down” and “Jesus Take The Wheel,” to name just a few.

Steeplechase painting “Flight” goes for $8,000

"Flight" by Rachael McCampbell

“Flight” by Rachael McCampbell

Earlier in the evening, an original painting by Rachael McCampbell, titled “Flight” was auctioned off at a nice winning bid of $8,000. The bidding had opened at $5,000.

Steeplechase – THE DAY OF
This year marked the 71st run of Iroquois Steeplechase, with thousands again in attendance. And though rain was expected, the skies only threatened and never barraged with rain. A few sprinkles were all that were felt near the end of the day. Other than that, the mood was high and the cheering loud when the horses would cross the finish line for each race.

Steeplechase – the Fashion that is / Hat-tastic

Martha Ivester, Paige Green & Jennifer Hinds

Martha Ivester, Paige Green & Jennifer Hinds

Beautiful ladies still don the customary and very creative hats, some spending much time on them. According to Martha Ivester, she went “crazy with the glue gun”, but her hat was quite unique and stylish, displaying gorgeous, colorful peacock feathers that were the perfect compliment to her near indigo colored dress. Others, like Paige Green and Jennifer Hinds, (all shown in photo) chose attractive hats to suit their own lovely dresses and personal styles. All in all, the day promised to be nothing less than memorable.

Keeping in mind that this event is about charity, we can’t overlook the triumphs that took place this year, and I was reminded of that when speaking to some hard-working physicians at the pre-party. It is hard to realize all the work that goes on behind the scenes, and the cyclical nature of this event.

The Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital is the official charity recipient of Steeplechase, and has been so since 1981, and has received more than $9 million in proceeds. Thousands are involved in creating and supporting this event so that it comes off spectacularly. And the Bradford Group is much to be praised for its ongoing planning, marketing and well-organized efforts.

Iroquois Steeplechase Champion tragically dies after victorious finish
Still, no amount of planning can keep from happening what happened a few minutes following the last race of the day. The winning horse, 8-year old Arcadius, finished the race victoriously, trotted back to the Winner’s Circle with his jockey (and friend, Brian Crowley) to have his picture made, and then to the cool down area, where he collapsed and died.

Veterinarians took every effort to save the horse, but it was not to be. The horse had suffered an aneurysm, and there was nothing that could be done.

“The horse ran a beautiful race,” McInturff said. “When he went down, we got to him very quickly and administered medications and an IV. But, his blood pressure dropped very rapidly and we couldn’t save him.”

The emotion was high – especially for Brian Crowley – who was too upset to comment.

Our thoughts and prayers go out today to Brian Crowley, and to Ed Swyer. For this year – though so triumphant – we also mourn the tragedy and loss of a beloved champion, Arcadius.