The 10: Steeplechase

For the past 76 years, the Iroquois Steeplechase, sponsored by Bank of America, has been Music City’s most famed and revered sporting tradition. The race, always the second Saturday in May, brings together thousands of horse-racing fans, families, and friends for a day of community celebration and charitable giving. And this year, organizers are expecting more than 25,000 racegoers to pack Percy Warner Park to celebrate Nashville’s rite of spring with fashion and philanthropy.

Learn more about the 77th Iroquois Steeplechase and purchase tickets online at

1The Weather Has Never Stopped the Race 

Even under threatening conditions such as the Nashville Flood of 2010 – the Iroquois has run continuously since 1941, only taking one year off for World War II.

2Wall Street Closed for the Race’s Namesake

When Iroquois, the namesake of the Nashville race became the first American-bred winner of the English Derby in 1881, Wall Street closed temporarily for a celebration.

3Grounds Were Built Over 80 Years Ago

The Steeplechase grounds were constructed in 1936 as part of a parks improvement project of the Works Progress Administration.

4Reputation as One of the Best Tracks

Iroquois course is regarded as one of the best racing surfaces in the country and was one of the first steeplechase courses to use an irrigation system which is maintained year round.

5Those Horses are Fast

Average speed of a steeplechase thoroughbred is 30 mph and weighs 1,100 lbs.

6It’s One of the Richest Events on the Circuit

Total purses, bonuses and awards of $500,000+ for race day makes Iroquois Steeplechase the richest event on the National Steeplechase Association spring circuit.

7Steeplechase Benefits Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt

This event has raised more than $10 million for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt since the hospital was designated its beneficiary in 1981.

8Each Year They Select a Local Artist

For the first year ever, the featured artist is a local youth, Lesly Mendez, an 18-year-old high school Senior attending Antioch High School. She recently began painting and this is the first competition she has ever entered. Mendez will exhibit her painting on race day in the Children’s Hospital tent.

9Child Ambassador Has Been Selected Since 2006

Since 2006, a child who received treatment at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt has been selected as the Child Ambassador to promote and bring awareness to Steeplechase. For 2018, the child ambassador is 9-year-old Brooks Russell.

10Race Day is All About Fashion

On race day, the fashion takes second place to the horses. Women shop for hats from Christine A Moore Millinery at various events in the area. These hats not only have sun protection but serve as a fashion accessory as well. Men will often be seen wearing a bow tie. Watch the video below from Chuck Blackburn, author of The Bow Tie Bible, where he talks about the tradition of the bow tie and gives you step-by-step instructions on how to tie your bow tie.