Category: Race Day Prep

How to Make the Perfect Tailgate Spread

Steeplechase of Charleston is just days away and it’s tailgate time! We’ve assembled a list of THE best tailgate ideas to bring the class of a VIP ticket and the intimacy of a rail-side experience all into one. Relinquish the painstaking Pinterest scrolls and aimless Google searches, and look no further– we’ve got you covered.

Set Up

It’s all about the table set up. Get in touch with the artisans of our Vendor Village and get your setup on display with a cute tablecloth and platters of your best dishes. Keep in touch with Derby fashion and go bold! Think bright, pastel colors and intricate patterns. Adorn the table with flower arrangements and decorative horse ribbons.

Try your hand at coordinating a theme! Rep your university, deck out with preppy patterns or create a Steeplechase-esque theme with small horse statues and bouquets. Pull at classic fall elements with pumpkins for decoration or a warmer color scheme.


You’ve got a full day at Steeplechase of Charleston, so make sure to cover all of your cravings. Get in touch with Charleston cuisine by making BBQ sliders, pimento cheese deviled eggs or chicken and waffle skewers. Top it all off with one of this year’s signature cocktails, a Lexus Cup Whiskey Mash or an Ice Pick, to elevate your tailgate to classy cuisine.

Pack your Yetis and bundle up your bottles– fashion a wine cooler amongst your spread and keep all your tailgaters happy. Finish the day with some sweet lemon bars or cream cheese brownies for chocolate lovers.


Bringing the whole family to Steeplechase of Charleston? Get ready for a full day of eager munchers with these kid-friendly recipes. Keep the kids happy with these mini corn dogs and reward your efforts with a mint julep. Stock up on extra napkins for sticky fingers and switch out the juleps for some homemade lemonade

Don’t forget dessert! Bring out the crowd-pleasers with simple, bite-sized treats like these mini whoopie pies or these beautiful sugar cookies.

Things to Note

Don’t forget the essentials– patterned napkins and cutlery will be essential for staying tidy on race day. While we want your bellies to be satisfied and your platters to be full, we ask that attendees refrain from bringing grills with an open flame or propane. Prep those items beforehand, get creative in your menu, and leave it all on display! Inspire attendees with tailgate ideas for #SteepleCHS 2022.

Make a Charleston Weekend Out of Your Steeplechase Visit

Are there things to do in Charleston, the #1 tourist destination according to so many travel experts over the last decade that we’re losing count? (Travel + Leisure, readers of Conde Nast Traveler and more.)

Enough to fill a month, as it turns out, and November is a great time to visit or staycation because the edge is off the heat, while temperatures remain comfortable.

If your weekend revolves around the steeplechase on Sunday morning, that leaves plenty of time for the top three Charleston attractions: history, beauty and food.

Start at the centerpiece of historic downtown Charleston: Charleston Place. A magnificent luxury hotel ensconced in an indoor shopping complex, Charleston Place offers fine dining and superb window shopping even in inclement weather. The world-class Charleston Grill features Lowcountry specialties and a Four Diamond AAA rating. The laid-back Palmetto Café serves breakfast and lunch in a gorgeous garden-style setting. World-class views of the city come standard with your drinks on The Clocktower Terrace rooftop bar. And as long as you’re in an equine state of mind, relax in the Thoroughbred Club lounge in the lobby of the hotel, where you can enjoy tapas, cocktails and live tinkling of the keys.

Wherever you eat in this city of culinary exquisiteness, don’t leave town without sampling local delicacies – oysters, shrimp and grits, sweet tea, hush puppies, she-crab soup, collard greens and seafood of all kinds.

The Civil War only began in one place – right where you happen to be. As long as you’re here, take a cruise out to Fort Sumter and relive the firing of the first shots that set the nation ablaze. Fort Sumter sits at the mouth of the harbor, where Charlestonians like to say the Cooper and Ashley rivers meet to form the Atlantic Ocean.

As the nation’s oldest city still on display in its original form, Charleston is a great place to be seen by horse and carriage. Carriage rides are inexpensive, highly educational and plentiful. Learn about the city’s unique architecture, early denizens and critical place in American history dating back even before the nation’s founding. It seems like every other house of worship here is the oldest of its kind.

No Charleston visit is complete without a visit to an antebellum plantation, where the savagery of slavery and the magnificence of the work slaves did is on display for your contemplation and appreciation. Much of what makes Charleston an iconic tourist attraction was constructed on the backs of enslaved Africans. The gardens of Middleton Plantation, the slave quarters of Boone Hall and the massive oaks lining the way to McLeod Plantation are all awe-inspiring and worth a visit.

November isn’t swimming or surfing season – unless you’re a dolphin! Take a harbor cruise around the waters here and watch the playful maritime mammals breach the surface and wave to you with their tails. Charleston dolphins love to perform for visitors.

Built at a human scale, downtown Charleston is walkable and lovely from ground level. Amble down to White Point Gardens at the Battery, the tip of the Charleston peninsula. Then walk up East Bay to iconic Rainbow Row and take a photo in front of the multi-colored pastel houses. Continue along the river to the pineapple fountain, welcoming sailors from days of yore, and on to the City Market, Charleston’s answer to Boston’s Faneuil Hall and Seattle’s Pike Place.

You’ve just scratched the surface, so one more thing you will have to do is come on back!

Cheers! 2021 Steeplechase Signature Cocktails


Race day is nearing and it is time to plan your best Steeplechase of Charleston tailgate spread and what it will  include. Creating the perfect batch drink will make serving a large number of guests much more efficient. It can also be the perfect touch to finishing off a marvelous tailgate.

This year Explore Charleston pointed our team to one of the best bartenders in town, Michael Moore of 39 Rue de Jean, to skillfully craft the perfect drink featuring both of our sponsored spirits, Maker’s Mark and Sweet Grass Vodka.

When Michael was creating these recipes he wanted to keep it simple, classic and traditional. He threw in a subtle southern twist on his version of an Ice Pick by adding his own honey (Yes, he is a beekeeper too!) and white peach puree to add additional sweetness.  For The Lexus Cup Whiskey Smash he put a spin on the Derby classic, The Mint Julep. Again, instead of using traditional sugar, Michael’s creation is sweetened with his own honey and includes fresh lemons.

Each of our batch recipes makes 8 drinks and can be easily doubled, or more if you have a larger crowd.

Glasses up! See you at the races!


The Ice Pick (8 drinks)

2 cups Sweet Grass Vodka

6 cups unsweetened tea (Lipton brand)

1/2 cup white peach purée

1/2 cup honey simple (recipe follows)

1/4 cup lemon juice

Pour Sweet Grass Vodka into pitcher along with white peach purée and stir. Add unsweet tea, lemon juice and honey syrup and re-stir. Pour over ice and enjoy!

The Lexus Cup Whiskey Mash (8 drinks)

2 cups Maker’s Mark Bourbon

2 lemons ( cut into 1/8’s )

25-30 mint leaves

1/2 cup honey syrup (recipe follows)

Juice lemons into pitcher. Set lemons aside. Add mint and muddle /smash until oils are released.  Add lemons, Makers Mark Bourbon, honey simple and lemon juice to pitcher and stir.  Taste and adjust flavors. Poor over ice and Enjoy!

Honey Syrup

1/2 cup honey (local Rooftop Bees and Honey brand)

1/2 cup honey warm water

Stir together until dissolved.

Follow Rooftop Bees and Honey on Instagram: @rooftopbeesandhoney

Spring Into Steeplechase!

Spring is back and so is Steeplechase of Charleston! King Street is flux with eager visitors, beaches are busy with blissful tanners, and restaurants are filling up famished diners. Soon enough, we’ll be back at the tracks, dusting mud off our elegant race outfits.

What is a Steeplechase?

You’ve got 207 days to learn everything you can about Steeplechase of Charleston– and we’re here to help. First, refresh: how are steeplechases different from a running race?

Most people are familiar with the classic, Olympic sprint races, but steeplechases take on exciting new heights. This is a distance horse race, involving obstacles for competitors to surmount. These laps of leaps last for 4 to 6 miles and challenge young thoroughbreds to jump over steel frame fences topped by a plastic brush.

You’ve got the rundown of the race. Secondly, you need our story. The Steeplechase of Charleston has all of the anticipation of the race in all of the rich South Carolina beauty. Located at the Stono Ferry Racetrack, viewers get to enjoy one of America’s most traditional sports while being surrounded by the greenery of Hollywood, SC.

2020 Steeplechase Highlights

After a year of unpredictability, 2020’s Steeplechase of Charleston brought a new kind of anticipation– who would stand apart at the day’s end? This sorely needed entertainment consisted of five races throughout the day, with racehorse Bet The Pot clinching the Post and Courier Cup for $20,000.

Trainer Jonathan Sheppard and jockey Gerard Galligan cleaned up with winnings from 4 out of the 5 races. Their successes put Steeplechase of Charleston on the map for National Steeplechase Association titles.

Next Moves

It’s already time to spring into Steeplechase of Charleston. From the race, the people, the history, and the style, Steeplechase of Charleston is a unique experience that welcomes viewers from near and far. And you can be a part of it.

We’re a quick 207 days away from Steeplechase of Charleston, but who’s counting, right?

Highlights: Steeplechase of Charleston 2020

November 15, 2020, starts with sunshine and smog rolling over the hills of the Stono Ferry Racetrack. Clouds pushing through bringing soft rain throughout the morning as people trickle into place. The skies open up and give way to miraculous sunshine just in time for the races, leading to a gorgeous fall day at Steeplechase of Charleston.

With amazing sponsors and numerous tailgaters, Steeplechase of Charleston 2020 is one for the books. 

The opening ceremonies kick off with a high note as Grammy award-winning artists Quiana Parler and Charlton Singleton from Ranky Tanky perform the National Anthem for Steeplechase of Charleston. All of which stream internationally on the National Steeplechase Association (NSA), Blood Horse, and Horse and Country TV! Click here to watch! 

As the riders begin to take off, Opening Ceremonies sponsor Hopkins Law Firm gave the first “Riders Up!” followed by Mark Peper of Peper Law Firm who also gave a “Riders Up!”

A Crowning Achievement!

Steeplechase of Charleston became the qualifier of NSA’s trainer and jockey of the year Hall of Fame 

trainer,  Jonathan Sheppard, and jockey, Gerard Galligan, who both left with winnings from 4 out of 5 of the races, a total of $50,000 in purse money. Read more about the winners here.

Another big winner? James Schelb winning the first-place raffle prize, a trip to Haig Point on Daufuskie Island! Charlie Black coming in second-place winning the raffle prize of a unique equestrian bottle of Blanton’s Bourbon. The raffle overall raising $2,100 for Hollings Cancer Center. Fun for a good cause!

Vendor Village

Between the races, guests enjoy the opportunity to explore the vendor village. Whether it was holiday shopping for designer boots at Charleston Shoe Co., handmade jewelry from Georgia Jewels, or boutique handbags from Darling Clutch Co., the most extravagant gifts were found!

Then, come time for a recharge, guests stop for a snack at Flight food truck or nitro cold brew from Pourly Grounded Coffee.

A popular destination throughout the day: LuXe Mobile Cigar Lounge.  Guests found an immersive cigar experience and a moment to take in all of Steeplechase.

Enjoyed By All!

Even Southern Charm star Madison LeCroy and The Righteous Gemstones actor Danny McBride are spotted taking in all the excitement of Steeplechase 2020!

The volunteers and Steeplechase team pulled off a wonderful, safe event. 

Thank You!

A huge thank you to all the vendors for providing both their time and their resources to enhance the Steeplechase experience. The day would not have been the same without these amazing businesses and organizations! View the full list of vendors and sponsors here