Aiken Steeplechase draws thousands

People of all ages came out to Steeplechase whether to catch up with friends, watch the races, or participate in the some of the kids' events, like the stick horse races, trick-or-treating and the costume contest.
People of all ages came out to Steeplechase whether to catch up with friends, watch the races, or participate in the some of the kids' events, like the stick horse races, trick-or-treating and the costume contest.

AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF)-  People of all ages came out to Steeplechase Saturday whether to catch up with friends, watch the races, or participate in the some of the kids’ events, like the stick horse races, trick-or-treating and the costume contest.

“It’s a beautiful day out, and it’s such a cool event with like the music and the people and the outfits….it’s awesome,” said spectator Emily Murphy, who visited Aiken for the weekend from Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C.

The 47 horses running came from across the country to compete in five races.

“I think we do have one local horse running,” said Rebecca Vigne, executive director of Aiken Steeplechase Association. “But a lot of our owners trainers and riders come in from out of town. A lot of them come from up north and across the country.”

Not only do horse owners, jockeys and trainers come here from as far away as New York, but patrons do as well. Officials estimate there were close to 10,000 spectators at the event Saturday. The sheer volume of people set this year apart.

“We think it might be a record year because of the weather,” Vigne said.

If there were about 10,000 spectators, as officials estimate, that means the event would have sold at least $200,000 worth of tickets.

“So we do bring in a lot people from out of area, but also our patrons will come from New York, Virginia, Florida, so we do get a lot of out of town guests, which is great for Aiken,” Vigne said.

And guests say Aiken is great for them.

“It’s great to get away from school, especially when it’s something as awesome as this,” Murphy said.

Those five races gave a total of $90,000 in purse money. The next Aiken Steeplechase will be in March.

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