As the first race in the Maryland Triple Crown of steeplechase, the My Lady's Manor drew thousands to Monkton Saturday.
The event was on property adjacent to Ladew Topiary Gardens, which is the beneficiary of the races. The My Lady's Manor, which includes three steeplechase races, is as much of a social gathering as it is a sporting event.
The races include the My Lady's Manor, the John Rush Streett Memorial and the John D. Schapiro Memorial. Riding Incomplete, Joey Elliott won the My Lady's Manor steeplechase, followed by William Dowling on Bubble Economy and Christopher Read riding Bon Caddo in second and third places, respectively. In the John Rush Streett Memorial, William Meister took first place riding Any Key, followed by Jackson Roberts on Catch the Echo and James Slater on Voler Bar Nuit.
Riding Woodmont, Mary Motion won the John D. Schapiro Memorial race, with Mark Beecher on Grinding Speed in second place and Jackson Roberts on Brands Hatch in third. Motion also broke the 2002 race record for the John D. Schapiro, which had previously been six minutes, 15 seconds. Motion won in 5:59.
The My Lady's Manor races attracted people from around the state and for some, even farther. Although they are from Boston, Steve and Katy Palmer made the trek this year for the fifth time to visit friends and enjoy the races. For them, the best parts are the weather and the horses.
"It's fantastic," Steve Palmer said.
The weather was a change from last year's rainy affair and several attendees said they welcomed the improved weather. With warm temperatures and few breezes, it made for a warm day outside. Along with live bluegrass music, the event also featured tailgating, vendors and food. It also attracted many families, some of whom have been coming for years.
Cousins Megan Sullivan, of Jarrettsville, and Michelle Casler, of Dublin, have been coming to the My Lady's Manor since they were young, Sullivan said Saturday.
"We both ride, so we're into horses," Sullivan said, adding they both have farms as well.
In addition to seeing the horses, Casler also said they enjoyed being able to cook out with their friends. The My Lady's Manor also provided an opportunity for Jarrettsville Veterinary Center owner Krista Magnifico, of Delta, to connect with clients and friends.
"It's a great place for us to very informally socialize with our clients and our friends," she said.
Magnifico was with fellow veterinarian Courtney Breen, of Jarrettsville, who came with her husband, Matthew Breen, and their 18-month-old son, Hunter. It was Matthew Breen's first time, but Magnifico and Courtney Breen had been before.
As Hunter toddled around, Courtney Breen said he was enjoying the day, calling it a "kid-friendly" place.
"He's having a good time," she said. "He's liking all of the tractors."
Jarrettsville Veterinary Center was also one of the event's sponsors for the event.
Retired Army Col. Lou Murray Jr., of Selbyville, Del., was enjoying the day with his son, Lou Murray, who lives nearby in Jarrettsville. For Lou Murray, the My Lady's Manor was about enjoying the "atmosphere" and weather with friends. They have come several times before, he said, and enjoy the camaraderie and the sport.
Lou Murray Jr. commented on the beautiful scenery, calling it "gorgeous" and said it gave him an opportunity to visit his son.
"It gets me off the Eastern Shore, " he added.
From Timonium, Frank and Pam Waesche came to the My Lady's Manor simply because they were invited, but as they began to enjoy it for the first time, continued to praise the event. Frank Waesche had gone consistently since he was a child, he said, but he hadn't been back to the My Lady's Manor since high school.
Saturday was Pam Waesche's first time at the event.
"I'm looking forward to seeing the horses and eating the food," she said.
Ed and Pam Harbin, of Sparks, on the other hand, have been coming for many years. Ed Harbin had attended the race before it was held at the property on Route 146 at Pocock Road, which he said was 40 years ago. For them, the My Lady's Manor is an opportunity to socialize, as well as experience the races.
"It's a nice social event," Ed Harbin said, "and you see people you haven't seen for the past year."
The last steeplechase racing event Heather Carson watched was in Ireland, she said, and she wanted to come to the My Lady's Manor in part because of the fixed fences aspect of the race. She was the self-professed "horse person" in her group, Carson said, which included her husband, Tom Larson, and friends, Jen Hill and Emilio Ortiz, all from Baltimore.
It has become a tradition for Kariste Holler, of Perry Hall, and Lynn Kendrick, of Phoenix, who have been coming every year. For Holler, that's 10 years, on and off; Kendrick said she has been coming for 20 years. Because she lives locally, Kendrick said she wanted to support the community as well as experience the "wonderful view."
Not only do they want to support local horse owners, they both also wanted to enjoy the weather.
"I like the excitement," Kendrick said. "It's a great day to be outside."