By Charleston Mercury Staff
And they’re off, April 8 — seeking to root a race in turf long fertilized by history. Indeed, a new race meet, The Steeplechase of Charleston at Stono Ferry, will join the National Steeplechase Association’s (NSA) 2017 spring racing schedule. Tickets have been on sale since January 6.
More than 60 horses will run in the Steeplechase of Charleston at Stono Ferry, taking place in the town of Hollywood this coming Saturday. A companion meet in November will also be under the management of the Bruno Event Team, an internationally recognized leader in sports marketing and event management. This will be the first local race meet sponsored and managed by a professional event marketer, which many observers believe will be a game changer.
Inconsistent management and performance at previous Stono Ferry races have resulted in long periods of inactivity. With the focused attention of the NSA and a top-level sports marketing firm, locals can now expect the steeplechase to thrive in the Lowcountry, which once boasted several active racetracks. (Please see our nearby article about the deep horseracing history in the region.)
“We are honored to have the opportunity to manage The Steeplechase of Charleston at Stono Ferry,” stated Gene Hallman, president and CEO of Bruno Event Team. “This is an exciting and new opportunity for our company and we are thrilled to host this Steeplechase event.” Hallman is one of “we people” and received a bachelor of science in economics from the College of Charleston and his MBA from the University of South Carolina.
“The board of directors and I welcome The Steeplechase of Charleston at Stono Ferry and the Bruno Event Team to the NSA family,” said President Guy J. Torsilieri. “We are excited to have a new race meet for the spring and we look forward enthusiastically to working with the Bruno Event Team staff.
“On many Saturdays in the spring and fall, steeplechase races attract the biggest crowds in thoroughbred racing. With the Bruno Event Team’s well-established expertise in event management and marketing, we hope to work together to leverage our popularity into a successful meet at Charleston and growth for all of steeplechase racing.”
The Bruno Event Team has worked closely with the NSA and the Stono Ferry Homeowners Association to prepare for the new spring meet. The Charleston meet, on the same race course formerly utilized by the Charleston Cup, is scheduled to have six races, four over National Fences, with purses totaling $75,000. It assumes the date formerly held by the Stoneybrook Steeplechase.
The fall meet tentatively will be held on the Sunday preceding the season-ending Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup in Camden mid-November.
“This new race meet will be a tremendous opportunity for our horsemen,” said NSA Director of Racing Bill Gallo Jr. “It will be the third consecutive meet in South Carolina to kick off the 2017 spring season and it will offer competitive purses. The November meet also will continue our growth in the fall season.”
How to get your tickets and spot on the rail
What: Steeplechase of Charleston at Stono Ferry Racetrack
When: Saturday, April 8; Gates open at 9:00 a.m.; racing starts at 1 p.m.
Tickets: Start at $40; preferred infield parking is $40