Normally, the day after the Carolina Cup allows Jeff Teter and his work crew, which oversees the maintenance of the Springdale Race Course, a chance to sit back and relax after days and countless hours of making sure nothing goes amiss on the grandest event on Kershaw County’s sporting and social calendar.
Last Saturday’s 85th running of the Camden spring classic was anything but normal; from the feature race itself being run as a Ratings Handicap Hurdle to the ryegrass which turned the race surface emerald green to having to run another race the following Saturday.
When the Georgia Steeplechase cancelled its scheduled Saturday, April 6 race date due to poor ticket sales, the Carolina Cup Racing Association came to the rescue, offering to host the five-race card at Springdale one week after holding the Carolina Cup.
The races, called “The Cup Runneth Over” will be contested Saturday at Springdale. That led to Teter and his team, which includes James Harris, Grady Humphries, Bill Martin and Jonathan Smart, to spring back into action on Sunday, along with help from inmates from the nearby Wateree River Correctional Center.
By Monday, nearly all the the debris left from the Carolina Cup had been collected and bagged as the operation shifted from cleaning up the mess left from one event to preparing for this Saturday’s races.
As he sat behind his desk located inside the National Steeplechase Museum Tuesday afternoon, Teter said the 500-acre Springdale Race Course property was not only cleared of debris, but was given an all systems go report for The Cup Runneth Over.
“Overall, the course held up very well,” Teter said of the racing surface after having had six races run over it on Saturday. “With this rain that we’re having today and, the last time I looked, we had over an inch and a quarter when I looked at the rain gauge, it ought to be to pretty darn good (for Saturday.)”
It had been a whirlwind start to the week for Teter and the workers who seemingly had little time to catch their breath following the conclusion of the Carolina Cup races.
“We’re fortunate that we have a great rapport with the Wateree River Correctional Institution,” Teter said. “They had three groups here Sunday and pretty much got the entire general parking areas on both ends of the race course and up the whole front side and half the infield cleaned up on Sunday.
“Normally, we don’t start (cleaning the grounds) until Monday (after the Carolina Cup.) We try and get a little bit of a breather on Sunday before we go back to the clean-up. With the Cup Runneth over Races coming up this weekend, we really couldn’t put it off. Plus, with the weather forecast calling for Tuesday to be a washout, which it is, we needed to get started on Sunday.”
In England and Ireland, in which steeplechase fixtures can entail running jump races on consecutive days, hosting chasing on back-to-back weekends would not be a great task given the large team of workers at the track’s disposal. What Springdale is doing is a bit of an oddity on this side of the Atlantic. Even while Saratoga hosts a jump race once a week during its six-week run, it does not have a full card traveling over the course on any given day.
Teter said Springdale looked no worse for the wear when he walked the course to inspect it for any damage on Monday. He then sent his report to the National Steeplechase Association which, in turn, distributed Teter’s findings to its horsemen.
“We walked the course and thought that it was very divot-free. There was one area where near a jump which we looked at and after this rain, we’ll go back there and see if we need to put a little dirt here or there, that we’ll do that,” he said of course maintenance needed for Saturday’s event.
“We mowed the course (Monday.) We debated whether or not to aerate it, but we felt it didn’t really need it if we got this good, heavy rain that we are getting.
“The biggest thing now is inspecting the jumps and making sure that the wings and the rolls are straight and tight and tied down the way they need to be.”
With a four-man staff to tend to the course, Teter said adding a second race meet in as many Saturday’s put added pressure on his workers to make sure that everything will be run safely for the competitors on the course as well as making sure spectators will have another enjoyable day at Springdale.
“We’re not a very big staff as far as the outside or, the inside goes,” he said. “Being that this is the first time doing this, initially, you didn’t know what to expect. The biggest thing is the trash pickup and getting the portable and permanent horse stalls cleaned out (from the Carolina Cup) which we did (Tuesday) morning.”
Teter said had the race course gotten “chewed up” last Saturday, workers would have only had to slide the portable National Fences a panel over in order for horses and riders to run over better and safer ground.
“With this soil down here, as sandy as it is,” Teter said of the race course, “the more rain the better. It looks like it is supposed to rain again Friday. If we get more rain then, I think it will set up perfect for Saturday.”