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Steeplechase races to run in Dade City

By CHASE SQUIRES, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 9, 2003

DADE CITY -- It's time to saddle up and see what they've got.

Today's third running of the Little Everglades Steeplechase as a nationally sanctioned event promises competitive races on the course, experts say, and elegantly dressed spectators on the sidelines.

Gates open today at 9:30 a.m. through Jordan, Ashbrook and Gould roads off U.S. 301, about a mile north of the Dade City limits. Entertainment begins at 10:30 a.m., with amateur horse races and Jack Russell terrier races shortly after.

The first in a series of five professional races goes off at 1 p.m., with riders vying for $115,000 in prize money and National Steeplechase Association series points.

Joe Clancy -- editor of industry bible, the Steeplechase Times -- predicted a good day of racing as the NSA season's opening meet. A strong field in each of the five races will offer some exciting racing. he said.

In the feature event, the $40,000 Little Everglades Stakes, Clancy said veteran steeplechase horse Al Skywalker is the horse to beat.

Sunday's festivities also include lavish tailgating by spectators, who are encouraged to bring coolers, chairs, tablecloths and lots and lots of sunscreen. The day includes a fancy hat competition, period dress contests, carriage and antique car displays, musical performances and a live band and party in the infield after the final race.

There is no wagering.

Admission at the gate today is $10 per person or $40 per carload. Children younger than 12 are admitted free.

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