By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times, published March 11, 2001
DADE CITY -- The Little Everglades Steeplechase leaps into town today with a lineup that dwarfs last year's inaugural event and promises to draw thousands of spectators.
Thirty-nine horses are entered in five steeplechase races. Horse and rider will jump over a series of fences as they gallop through 2-mile races across a brand new, $750,000 custom-built race course at Little Everglades Ranch.
The ranch is about a mile north of Dade City off U.S. 301, accessable via Jordan, Ashbrook and Gould roads. General admission is $10 per person or $40 per carload. Gates open at 9:30 a.m. and racing begins at 1 p.m.
This morning's pre-race events include pony rides, amateur and youth races, Jack Russell terrier races, a carriage parade and lots of fancy tailgating. Food concessions and specialty shops will share a "Vendors' Village" in the infield.
Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on, as well as coolers, picnic baskets and lots of sunscreen. There will be no wagering at today's races, but horses and riders will be vying for $125,000 in prize money as well as National Steeplechase Association season points.
More than 3,000 advance tickets were sold, along with more than 100 lawn boxes and corporate and family tents.
Racers from across the country and from Europe will be competing in what has become a major stop on the NSA national circuit in just its second year.
To get to the race, take U.S. 52 from Interstate 75 to U.S. 301 in downtown Dade City,then go north to the Little Everglades Ranch.