NASHVILLE, Tenn. - March 2018 Article

Nashville is having a moment these days, and for several reasons. Chief among them is the city’s sports scene. Yes, while Nashville has a well-known reputation for its music, the city’s burgeoning love with sports is bringing a new identity to Music City. Thousands of fans packed downtown streets for viewing parties during the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs last year, and the city closed out 2017 strong by scoring Major League Soccer’s 24th franchise, besting twelve other cities in the process. Not that the city’s having an identity crisis, but one could argue for Music City, “It City,” or even “Sports City.”

True, Nashville is getting major attention for its sports scene–but that’s really nothing new. Case in point: 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.

“Nashville is bursting with energy, and we are thrilled to be part of the sports community that’s helping drive even more attention to our incredible city,” said Dwight Hall, chairman of the Iroquois Steeplechase Race Committee. “And being one of the premier sporting events in a city as dynamic as ours means we are always adding new features to build on the race-day experience.”

With a charitable mission at its core–to date, Iroquois Steeplechase has raised more than $10 million for Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt–this year’s event features several new options for racegoers to get involved and enliven their Steeplechase experience.

For starters, families are an important part of the Steeplechase tradition. Not only is the race on Mother’s Day weekend, but organizers hope to bring even the youngest of spectators to the sport, helping cultivate a love of horses and steeplechasing. With all that in mind, children 12 and under may attend in the tailgating and general admission areas for free this year. This change makes it easier for families to plan to spend the day together at Steeplechase, enjoying the many activities it offers.

And if making the race more accessible to families is part of this year’s enhancements, then that theme continues for those looking to simplify the tailgating experience. New this year, racegoers can now opt for “all-inclusive tailgating,” which includes a tent, table and chairs, as well as the option to add catering. For many racegoers, tailgating is a sport in and of itself, so these new options allow them to put the focus on the party–not on the planning.

What’s more, those familiar with tailgating are also likely acquainted with the infield. While the horses race around the track, spectators in the infield watch with awe and delight–and revel in the excitement of, literally, being in the center of the action. That’s not a bad place to be, especially for those who take advantage of the Fox Den, an infield add-on that provides access to a tented area with catered food and beverages. And given that the food is provided by TomKats Hospitality, which is behind such Nashville favorites as Acme Feed & Seed, The Southern Steak & Oyster, Fin & Pearl, and Woolworth on 5th , the Fox Den truly is “in the middle of it all” in the infield; it comes as no surprise then that the Fox Den has been expanded to accommodate more racegoers and more activities in 2018, including live music for everyone’s enjoyment.

For those looking for the ultimate Steeplechase experience, racegoers have the opportunity to purchase individual tickets in the Skybox Suites. These VIP suites offer sweeping views of the grounds and racetrack, and access to an array of amenities, ranging from gourmet food and beverages to a personal butler. This change, along with the others, is aimed at creating fresh experiences for those who’ve attended previously, and at giving first-time racegoers even more opportunities to get involved.

“For 76 years, Iroquois Steeplechase has celebrated the grandeur of horse racing, while bringing attention to the many wonderful organizations, like Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, that are improving our communities,” Hall said. “As we honor the meaningful traditions of our event, we want to create new, exciting ways for Middle Tennesseans to get involved–and to make Iroquois Steeplechase a wonderful tradition for their family as well.”

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

Dwight Hall