Rainy Weather Doesn’t Dampen Spirits at Aiken Steeplechase

2013 Arts in the Heart Festival (Image 1)

It was a rainy day at the races for the 47th renewal of Aiken's Spring Steeplechase.

Still the show goes on.

“When we saw this, it's like raining the ballgame out, but they don't stop,” says Augusta resident Charles Bowen who reguarly attends with his wife. “They run the horses anyway.”

But some of the show, is off the track.

“When the ladies put it on, they're going to wear it regardless of what happens,” he says.  His wife wore her outfit as planned. “It gives the girls a chance to show off a little bit, the hats and clothing, it's a miniature Derby.”

For some people, picking the perfect color isn't a strategy reserved for their wardrobe.

“Picking horses according to names or colors,” Jane Deese says of her strategy, “I don't know anything about the statistics.”

So, off to the races: And Steeplechase is special one, especially when you win.

“It's the beginning of the season, if you have a fit horse you can come in and steal a race,” says Doug Fout who trained the winner of the second race, Pleasant Woodman. “This is a tight and fast course which is what we needed for this horse.

Allen Darlington has judged 30 of the races and still gets excited.

“You watch these equine athletes running two miles and jumping 12 fences,” he says, “it's amazing for a guy who's been in racing 65 years.”

Those in racing face more than a wardrobe change when the weather's bad, so thankfully the sun eventually shined on Steeplechase.

“When it's pouring you can't see through the fences, the riders get mud in their eyes and on their face,” Fout says.

And who knows what next year hold, but they'll all be back.

“I can't wait,” says Maureen Fitzgerald. “I count down the days, everyone in Atlanta knows I count down the days and the hours.”

Because what could keep them away:

“I can't think of anything,” says Owen.  “Wild horses couldn't keep me away, no way. I think the only thing would be a hurricane.”

Let's hope that never happens.

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