Reported by Josh DeVine
For 70 years, the Iroquois Steeplechase has brought pageantry and a party to Percy Warner Park every spring.
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This weekend, the tradition will continue.
"It's Nashville's rite of spring," said Dwight Hall, who is returning for his third year as the Steeplechase's chairman. "We've got the best purse structure. We've got a course that's just fabulous, and everybody's pointing to here."
Early Thursday morning, workers continued to put the finishing touches on the setup as trailers arrived, carrying the 60 competing horses.
"Basically all the logistic things," said Hall. "Because of the great weather this week, we've loaded in; we're ahead of schedule. We're about a day and a half ahead of schedule, which is really nice."
According to Hall, the course hasn't changed for 2011's event. Organizers have added several features to enhance the fan experience, including a vendor village, a special photograph opportunity, an art auction and a raffle for prime seats to next year's event.
On Thursday morning, racing fans, supporters and horse owners filled an area near the park's barn to witness the random draw that will determine post positions for the event's seven races.
The headlining race, the Iroquois, features nine horses, the most in recent memory. According to Hall, it'll take a lot for them to stand a chance at winning a piece of that race's $150,000 purse.
"You know, (it takes a) fairly long training period, a couple prep races and hopefully they're right at their peak," said Hall.
For more information on the race and directions to the event, go to http://www.iroquoissteeplechase.org
Beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, Old Hickory Boulevard will be closed to eastbound traffic at Vaughn Road. It will reopen to two-way traffic from 1 to 4 p.m.
Then at 4 p.m., Old Hickory will be closed to westbound traffic at Hillsboro Road. The southbound lanes will also be closed from Highway 100.
The roads will reopen once the heavy traffic is over.