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Atlanta Steeplechase ceasing operations

Foxfield trying to stave off developers

Posted: June 19, 2017 2:21 p.m.
Updated: June 20, 2017 1:00 a.m.

On the heels of the cancellation of the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup fall steeplechase meet two months ago, the Atlanta Steeplechase, a spring staple on the National Steeplechase Association circuit, has followed suit after a 52-year run.

The Atlanta Steeplechase contested the $100,000 Georgia Cup (Grade I) as recently as 2008. The race was run for a $30,000 purse on April 22 in Kingston, Ga.

The announcement of the news was made on the event’s website last week, it read:

“Having undertaken a thorough and professional, strategic review, during which we assessed a wide variety of options to maximize the value of the Atlanta Steeplechase, the Board of Stewards has concluded to make the 2017 races its last event. This hard thought out decision is the best path forward for the Atlanta Steeplechase, its suppliers, the charity and its patrons.

“Numerous trends in the sporting industry, but particularly in the steeplechasing structure, have changed. The customer experience and the charitable donations are what make it all worthwhile.

“We want to thank everyone for a fantastic 52 years of the Atlanta Steeplechase.”

During its April meeting, the Carolina Cup Racing Association’s Board of Directors voted to shudder the November Colonial Cup race meet while saving the $150,000 feature chase by placing it as the headline event in the spring Carolina Cup to be run on Saturday, March 31, 2018 at the Springdale Race Course.

In between news of the Colonial Cup and Atlanta Steeplechase, a May 25 story included on the Charlottesville (Va.) Tomorrow website said that the Virginia races could be in jeopardy as “plans could be in the works to develop nearly 179 acres currently home to the Foxfield racecourse, according to recent court filings in a lawsuit against the Foxfield Racing Association.”

At issue is whether the last will and testament of the late Mariann S. de Tejada should be held in perpetuity according to her wishes included in her will. The suit states that de Tejada purchased the property in 1973 from Grover Vandevender, the huntsman for the Farmington Hunt Club. De Tejada, who passed away in 1983, was the original president of Foxfield Racing and helped incorporate Foxfield Steeplechase Inc. to carry on equestrian pursuits in Vandevender’s honor.

The Foxfield Spring Races celebrated their 40th year running on April 29. The Charlottesville facility also hosts a fall meet. 

The story on cvilletomorrow.com went on to say that a group of Albemarle County residents filed the lawsuit against the Foxfield Racing Association in the county’s Circuit Court in December seeking an injunction to prevent the sale of the property, which is on Garth Road in Albemarle’s rural area.

Recent court filings suggest the owners have considered either subdividing the Foxfield property into 17 building lots or developing some lots while keeping the racetrack, according to the story filed by reporter Tim Dodson.

Less than a week later, backers of keeping the property for racing won a victory in court when an Albemarle County judge refused to halt discovery in a lawsuit against the Foxfield Racing Association.

The last wish of the late de Tejeda was to be buried beside her racetrack; and in a dramatic move, plaintiff's attorney William Hurd held up a map showing what a $17 million-dollar subdivision would do to her grave. “You see that she’d be beneath a driveway,” said Hurd.

The officer/director of the Foxfield races is Winchester resident Thomas J. Dick, whose lawyer would say only this, “Buy tickets and come out to the fall family day Foxfield Races in September,” per a published report on ideastations.org.

The NSA is in the midst of a brief late spring/early summer respite before resuming with jump races at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Pa., on July 9 and 11.

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