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.
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
The New Market Course established.
Washington Race Course established.
- The original track was located on Mary Murray Street, which encircles what is now Hampton Park.
- 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.
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.
The South Carolina Jockey Club disbanded after efforts to revive the sport were unsuccessful.
- Its assets were given to the Charleston Library Society.
4 stone pillars from the original Washington Race Course were installed as the gate to Belmont Park, which is where the Triple
Crown Belmont Stakes is held.
Stono Ferry Plantation in Hollywood, SC held the first Charleston Cup Steeplechase (is now Steeplechase of Charleston).
The National Steeplechase Museum opened in Camden, SC. It is located on the grounds of the historic Springdale Race Course.
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
“Steeplechase racing is the perfect outdoor, family and friend-centered event for this era,” said Chris Zoeller, Chief Marketing Officer for The Post and Courier, which owns the race. “With changes in our spectator policies, we’re putting more focus than ever on the horses, the riders, and the enjoyment of the Lowcountry in the autumn.” - Moultrie News