You don’t have to drive very far outside of the city of Baltimore to arrive in Maryland hunt country. Within 10 miles of the city proper, development gives way to farms; go a little further, and you’re in the heart of Maryland horse country, where races have been held for over a century.
Thousands of spectators show up every year for races like the Maryland Hunt Cup, first run in 1894, and the races at My Lady’s Manor in Monkton, over an estate established in 1713. Breeding, raising, and racing horses, both flat and steeplechase, are as much a part of Maryland’s identity as crab cakes and the Orioles.
But even the most time-honored, embedded traditions risk obsolescence without updating—witness the Orioles’ move from the team’s long-time home, Memorial Stadium, to Camden Yards in 1992—and steeplechase racing, like its flat track cousin, can struggle to remain relevant and vibrant in a world in which fewer people grow up around horses and who consider a day at the races an attractive entertainment option.
Faced with declining interest in the sport and a correspondent decline in ownership, the National Steeplechase Foundation is throwing a party—of sorts—at which the guests might well go home not with a swag bag, but with a new horse — a horse who, in many cases, began his career on the flat.
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