Steeplechase season begins this weekend with Elkridge-Harford

The next two weekends feature some of Harford County's longest running sporting/social events as the steeplechase season is in full swing locally with the running of two of the three races commonly referred to as the Triple Crown of Maryland steeplechases.

The annual Elkridge-Harford Point to Point is Saturday, April 6, followed the next Saturday, April 13, by the My Lady's Manor races.

The 38th running of the Edward S. Voss Memorial Steeplechase will be Saturday, April 6, during the annual Elkridge-Harford Point to Point races at Atlanta Hall Farm at 2933 Pocock Road in Monkton. The multi-race card will also feature the George C. Clement Memorial, the B. Frank Christmas Memorial and the Babe Saportas Memorial, among other races. The ever popular pony races will also be run.

The Elkridge-Harford races are the traditional prep races for Maryland's "Triple Crown" of steeplechases. Held each year on the first Saturday in April, the race meet traces back to the old Harford Hunt meetings that were held on the grounds of Pleasant Valley Farm, home of Harvey S. Ladew. Pleasant Valley Farm is known world-wide as Ladew Topiary Gardens. It was, however, the sport of fox hunting that brought the wealthy New Yorker to Harford County where he purchased the dairy farm he would transform into the showplace it became.

The original racecourse was on the Fallston Road side of Ladew's property. Originally clear cut and open, that portion of the property is now the fields of the Maryland Polo Club.

The race eventually moved to Atlanta Hall Farm, home of the Voss family. Edward S. Voss, for whom the title race is named, was Master of Foxhounds of the Elkridge-Harford Hunt from 1939 until 1970. At the time of his death, he was the longest serving Master of Foxhounds in the United States. He also spent many hours in the irons over fences as a point-to-point rider in both his native New York and later in Maryland. The farm is now operated by Edward Voss' grandson, Thomas H. Voss. Tom Voss is one of the leading steeplechase trainers in the country and is a Joint-Master of the Elkridge-Harford Hunt.

A family friendly event, the gates open at noon, with the first race call to the post at 1:30 p.m. Tickets are by the car and general parking admission is $50. For further ticket information, or to purchase tickets in , call or e-mail 410-404-7071 or email Tailgate picnics are welcome and food is available on the grounds.

For more than the past 100 years, the beginning of spring has been marked by this exciting day of equestrian sport in the Harford County countryside and on Saturday, April 13, the My Lady's Manor Steeplechase Races will be run for the benefit of Ladew Topiary Gardens. This full day of Maryland racing includes three steeplechase races: The My Lady's Manor Steeplechase Race with a $30,000 purse (and the first of Maryland's Steeplechase Triple Crown), The John Rush Streett Memorial and The John D. Schapiro Memorial. The day is sponsored by PNC.

In addition to the races, visitors will enjoy live bluegrass music by Second Field, food vendors, and several merchandise tents. The paddock, where horses and riders warm up before competing, is accessible to public viewing. Gates for this rain or shine event open at 10 a.m. The first race is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

The My Lady's Manor Steeplechase Races are on Jarrettsville Pike, also known as Route 146, at Pocock Road in Monkton. General parking passes purchased in advance are $40 ($50 at the gate) and family parking is $60 ($70 at the gate). All parking passes — including preferred parking on the race course ($150 and up) - and admission to the Champagne Reception for the 2013 My Lady's Manor Race winner, can be purchased through Parking passes are also available through Ladew Topiary Gardens at 410-557-9570. People may bring coolers and picnics.

The My Lady's Manor Steeplechase, a timber stakes with a $30,000 purse, starts at 1:30 p.m. This is the first race in Maryland's Steeplechase Triple Crown and it's sponsored by Class Produce.

The John Rush Streett Memorial Steeplechase, an amateur maiden timber race, sponsored by Ski Roundtop, has a $10,000 purse and starts at about 2:30 p.m.

The John D. Schapiro Memorial Steeplechase, an amateur apprentice timber race, sponsored by Janney Montgomery Scott LLC, with a $7,500 purse, starts at about 3:30 p.m.

Other sponsors of the day include Kinsley Construction, Gladden Farm, Dark Horse Saloon, Manor Tavern, Jones Junction, A&M's Event Service, Father Martin's Ashley, Atlantic Tractor, The Mills of Bel Air, Whiteford and Blackhorse, Harford County Department of Agriculture and Economic Development and Cambria Veterinary Center. Graul's Hereford Supermarket has contributed a $100 cash prize to be awarded to the attendant of the best turned out horse for each race.

For more information, visit, or call Ladew Gardens at 410-557-9570.

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