South Carolina boasts a rich history in horse racing dating all the way back to the early 1700s. We've compiled a brief timeline to give you an idea of some of the key events.

1734 

Wealthy southern planters established the South Carolina Jockey club.

  • This created a demand for Thoroughbreds in the area and ultimately helped connect Charleston to breeders in England, globalizing the horse racing industry.
  • The first race in Charleston recorded by the Charleston Gazette in the same year

1754

The New Market Course established.

1792 

Washington Race Course established.

  • The original track was located on Mary Murray Street, which encircles what is now Hampton Park.

1861-1865 

Civil War

  • The start of the Civil War effectively put an end to horse racing.
    • However, some Confederate soldiers ignored regulations and held their own illicit horse races anyway.
  • In addition to the economic decline that followed the war, many Thoroughbreds lost their lives. The "Golden age of racing" became a distant memory.

late 1800s 

Thomas Hitchcock, known as the father of American steeplechasing, constructed a steeplechase training facility on his 3000-acre property in Aiken, SC and imported horses from England. He also helped several amateur riders along the way.

1899

The South Carolina Jockey Club disbanded after efforts to revive the sport were unsuccessful.

1903 

4 stone pillars from the original Washington Race Course were installed as the gate to Belmont Park, which is where the Triple

Grandstands at Washington Race Track

Crown Belmont Stakes is held. 

1986  

Stono Ferry Plantation in Hollywood, SC held the first Charleston Cup Steeplechase (is now Steeplechase of Charleston).

1998 

The National Steeplechase Museum opened in Camden, SC. It is located on the grounds of the historic Springdale Race Course.

2019

Steeplechase of Charleston partnered with the Post and Courier.

“Our aim is to make this a must-do event every year, and one that becomes the signature way to experience Charleston in the fall.” -publisher, P.J. Browning