The second leg of the Aiken Triple Crown set for this Saturday, March 25, features hurdles and flat track racing as part of the 51st running of the Aiken Spring Steeplechase.
“The hurdle races are what sets us apart from the (Aiken) Trials,” said Rebecca Vigne, executive director of the Aiken Steeplechase Association.
Depending on the weather, the Steeplechase can draw upwards of 30,000 people to the Aiken Horse Park, not all of whom are there for the races.
“For a lot of people coming, this is a tradition. It’s a family tradition, or people are coming with friends and it’s something they come to every year,” she said. “It is usually one of the first spring events in Aiken.”
Some people attend all three events in the Triple Crown, which began with the Aiken Trials last weekend and ends with Pacers and Polo on April 1; while others only go to the Aiken Steeplechase, she said.
“There’s plenty of crossover,” she said.
For those not really interested in the races, there’s still a lot to do.
There’s a Village of Shops that include food, jewelry and apparel vendors. People may also purchase Aiken Steeplechase merchandise.
There’s a carriage parade that features carriages drawn with four horses rather than one or two.
The carriage parade was suspended for the three most recent spring and fall steeplechase events because of changes on the property itself, but it’s back.
Another fun event is the hat contest and the crazy pants contest.
“The hat contest is popular every year,” she said. “The pants contest is fairly new, but it gets more entrants each year.”
Also, there will be a visit from the Easter Bunny and an Easter egg hunt for children between the ages of 2 and 10.
Gates open at 9 a.m. with the Village of Shops opening at 10 a.m. The races will begin at 1 p.m.
The Aiken Steeplechase is a rain or shine event.
Online ticketing has ended for this event; however, tickets are available at retail outlets including Mellow Mushroom in Aiken, Evans and Augusta, Aiken County Visitors Center, Aiken Drug, Aiken Saddlery, Floyd &Green Jewelers, H. Odell Weeks Center, Lominick Pharmacy, Parks Pharmacy in North Augusta, Plum Pudding, Southern Bank &Trust, Ridgecrest Coffee Bar, Unique Expressions, and Birds &Butterflies.
For more information, call (803) 648-9641 or visit aikensteeplechase.com.