By Laura Coker
Posted: 9:59AM Mar. 26, 2010
People are getting their outfits and coolers ready for Carolina Cup Steeplechase Saturday in Camden. The race was first run in 1930 and has continued every year except during World War II.
Assistant Director Teri Teed expects around 60,000 fans at the race this year.
"I attribute that to the South because it's a tradition and we love traditions, we love the land, sharing time with our families, and we love the animals," Teed said.
She says that the Carolina Cup Steeplechase is an annual rite of spring that brings families together to watch the event. Thousands of people gather every year to show off spring fashions and to party as much as to watch the races.
Jockeys, trainers and workers at the Springdale Racecourse are finishing the real work that makes this event happen each year.
"The animals are our athletes as well as the jockeys. I just ask that people remember that when they come out here. It's the horses that give us the opportunities to have events like this," Teed said.
For weeks leading up to the big race, the jockeys warm up the horses with practice laps when the sun comes up for the Carolina Cup Steeplechase.
Danielle Hodson started riding horses ten years ago. She went to school for athletic training, but decided to pursue her career in racing.
"I fell away from that and have more fun with this. I'm very lucky," Danielle says.
Last November, she won Springdale's Colonial Cup for Jonathan Sheppard's Barn. As soon as the Colonial Cup was over, she began training for the Carolina Cup.
"Carolina Cup is one of the older, more prestigious races, so for a jockey it's a bid deal to win the race," Danielle says.
Brian Crowley came all the way from Ireland hoping to find an owner who needs a jockey. So far, he doesn't have a ride in tomorrow's race.
"The place is unbelievable. This would be the ultimate ride," said Brian.
He says there is still a possibility he could ride.
The jockeys have to practice day in and day out, seven days a week from 7:00 in the morning until 2:00 in the afternoon. The horses have a hard workout with several fast laps around the track one day a week. They get a break after that.
Some jockeys have their own workouts other than riding the horses, but Danielle says she gets a workout on the horse.
"What they do keeps me fit," she said.
Most of the horses cost around $100,000. Saturdays winning horse gets $75,000 and the jockeys get 10 percent of that.
The jockeys are keeping the horses warmed up, but staying away from the jumps so that they horses aren't injured before the big race.
"It's the first big race of the spring. It's a little different race because we jump a larger fence," explained Danielle.
She practices on different horses to stay on track to have the best ride on any horse hoping to win the Carolina Cup and take home more than $7,500.