Spring is the time when two of the most beloved and historic annual horse racing events take place in the Sandhills. The first is the Stoneybrook Steeplechase at the Carolina Horse Park, and the second is the Spring Matinee Races held at the historic Pinehurst Harness Track.
The rich history of the Stoneybrook Steeplechase continues on April 9, 2016. This marks the 65th running of the race, which takes place on the beautiful grounds of the Carolina Horse Park, located in Raeford, NC.
The Stoneybrook Steeplechase is the official rite of spring in the Sandhills. Stoneybrook offers a day filled with horse racing and fun with family and friends. There are vendors in Merchants Crossing, an expansive Kid Zone, and the ever-popular tailgating festivities, hat contest, stick horse races, and so much more. If you go, make sure to arrive early to get a good spot along the racetrack and to see the popular opening ceremonies.
Stoneybrook traces it’s rich history back to horseman Michael “Mickey” G. Walsh, who at the age of 18, immigrated to the United States in 1925. Walsh began competing and by the 1930’s was winning top honors as both a rider and trainer. Luckily for us, Mr. Walsh relocated to Southern Pines, NC in 1939 and in 1940 he bought a horse training facility and built the racetrack where the annual Stoneybrook event was born. Today the original home and stables can be found on Youngs Road just outside the city limits of Southern Pines.
Following Walsh’s death in 1993, the Stoneybrook land was sold and the racetrack closed in 1996. However, his dream lives on at the Carolina Horse Park where the Stoneybrook Steeplechase was reborn in 2001 with the 50th running of the race. The Carolina Horse Park is the permanent home of the race as well as the site for other nationally recognized equestrian competitions throughout the year. Visit www.carolinahorsepark.com for more information.
Spring Matinee Races
April 10, 2016 marks the 67th running of the Spring Matinee Harness Races at the historic Pinehurst Harness Track. This is another fun event for the entire family. These races feature the pacers and trotters who have been in training at the track over the winter months. Before the trainers and horses leave for their northern homes, the Pinehurst community is presented with a day of exhibition racing.
From October through May the “Track” is home to over 260 standardbred horses. Since the 1920’s trainers from the north have been bringing their equines to Pinehurst for conditioning and training during the winter months taking full advantage of our milder winter weather. During this time the track is buzzing with activity as young trotters and pacers prepare for the upcoming summer racing season in the north. In the off-seasons, spring through fall, the facility hosts dressage and hunter jumper shows, an annual dog show, and polo-cross matches.
The “Track”, which opened in 1915 and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1992, is located on Beulah Hill Road and lies just on the fringe of our famed #2 Course. It contains a one-mile track, a quarter mile track, 18 barns, two blacksmith shops, a tack shop and a restaurant serving breakfast and lunch. For more information visit: www.pinehurstharness.org
As you can see the Sandhills are alive with springtime activities. I hope you will take time to attend one of these wonderful equine events. If you would like to see more of the Sandhills, Southern Pines and Pinehurst please call or text me today! 910-528-6427