history

The Iroquois Steeplechase has been Nashville's rite of spring since 1941, a time-honored tradition of Middle Tennesseans for seven decades. Its rich history dates back to the pasture races in Middle Tennessee during the 1930s, creating a legacy that resonates within the Nashville community.

78th iroquois steeplechase

Today, the Iroquois Steeplechase–run by the nonprofit, 501c3 organization the Volunteer State Horsemen's Foundation–routinely attracts more than 25,000 spectators to the Equestrian Center at Percy Warner Park in Nashville to watch the best horses and riders in the world.

Where did "Iroquois" come from?

The race is named for Pierre Lorillard's beloved "Iroquois," the first American-bred horse to win the English Derby. The celebrated athlete retired at the Belle Meade Plantation in Nashville to stand at stud. He lives in glory as a horse whose corpuscles have coursed in the veins of more Kentucky Derby winners than your hands have fingers. He was a horse worthy of the accolades!

Courtesy of Unsplash

hall of fame

While names of the many families associated with the Iroquois Steeplechase through recurrent generations would make a very long list, the non-profit has tried to list a few of the families–and their contributions–in the Iroquois Hall of Fame. The three-mile Iroquois Steeplechase race is one of the most celebrated races of its kind, and a daunting challenge not easily won. The names of the owners, trainers, and riders who have mastered the task read like an honor roll of American steeplechasing. Moreover, the names of the volunteers who have made this race meeting so special for 78 years are no less to be honored.

"I started attending the Iroquois Steeplechase when I was just a little boy. The sport of steeplechasing is something close to my heart, and being inducted into the Iroquois Steeplechase Hall of Fame is an incredible honor. It is certainly humbling to be placed in the company of those who have dedicated themselves to making the Iroquois the wonderful event it is today." ~Henry Hooker

Marcellus Frost

2007 Inductee

The affable “Pops” Frost received permission from Edwin Warner to look around the Warner parks to locate places to put jumps.

Mason Houghland

2007 Inductee

In 1932 Mason Houghland founded the Hillsboro Hounds with himself as Master and John Sloan, Sr. as Honorary Secretary.

John Sloan Sr.

2007 Inductee

John Sloan, Sr. was a protégé of Mason Houghland who lived on to carefully nurture their equine institutions, the Hillsboro Hounds and the Iroquois Steeplechase.

Guilford Dudley, Jr.

2007 Inductee

For forty years, Guilford Dudley had various horses in the Iroquois, a remarkable achievement. This persistence was rewarded in 1962.

Austin Brown

2008 Inductee

Austin Brown rode in his first Iroquois in 1943 at age 16 and finished fourth. He rode in his last Iroquois in 1958 and finished sixth.

Dr. John Youmans

2008 Inductee

Dr. John Youmans was recipient of many awards during his career. He received the French Legion of Honor for his work.

Calvin Houghland

2008 Inductee

Aside from being among the most colorful participant in the early days of the race, Calvin was known for his horsemanship and enduring commitment to the Iroquois.

Ernest K. Hardison, Jr.

2009 Inductee

Ernest K. Hardison, Jr. won the Iroquois Steeplechase in 1944 when he rode “Bank Robber”, after being bested by Calvin Houghland, on “Frederick II”.

Alan Dufton

2010 Inductee

Alan Dufton won the prestigious Iroquois in 1962 on “Navy Fighter”, owned by Guilford Dudley, Jr. He went on to win the Iroquois again in 1967.

George Sloan

2011 Inductee

George's legacy as a four time winner of the Iroquois Steeplechase is surpassed only by his contribution to the sport.

Henry Hooker

2015 Inductee

Henry Hooker served as Race Chairman from 1991 to 2008, and also was a supporter of its beneficiaries.

Dr. John K. Griggs

2016 Inductee

Dr. Griggs' father rode in the first Iroquois and was 2nd on Bank Robber in 1942. Starting with his appearance as a pony rider, Dr. John K. Griggs went on to 3 Iroquois wins during his career as an Owner/Trainer.