The 7 months of the year when we can’t eat, sleep, live, and breathe football, the South must turn to other sporting events to pass the time. When spring comes, we turn to horse racing. This weekend I attended my first horse race, the 73rd running of the Iroquois Steeplechase. Steeplechase isn’t just a sporting event, it is a social event. It is a cultural experience.

Before Steeplechase

There is a very specific dress code for Steeplechase. The guys wear pastels, bow ties, and searsucker. The girls where heels, sundresses, and giant beautiful hats. The bigger and fancier the hat the better. Since it was my first time, my friend Lillian let me borrow one of hers for the event. (Thanks Lil!)

I went to Steeplechase with my friend Justin, the one who incited my near meltdown over Martin Sheen last year. We started the morning with brunch and mint juleps at our friends Clay and Minnette’s house.

Steeplechase Group Photo

It’s hard to fit 19 people into a photo under normal circumstances. It gets especially complicated when half of the people in the photo are wearing giant frilly hats.

Steeplechase Boxseats

We had box seats, which meant we had a wonderful view of the events and a great place to just sit and relax with friends. Our very first stop, however, was in the Paddock Club for some refreshments. I started with a Jack’s Honey Lemonade, the official cocktail of the Steeplechase (complete with a tiny Jack Daniel in my drink).

Steeplechase Drinks

Being one of the biggest social events of the year, it seemed like everyone in Nashville came out for it. I first saw my friend Will, looking dapper in pastels.

Steeplechase Will

I ran into my friend Katie out in centerfield. (You can’t see the rest of Katie’s dress, but it was swooshy and beautiful!). Speaking of centerfield, it was like one giant SEC tailgate. There was cornhole, tents, music, and it seemed like a total blast.

Steeplechase Katie

I also got to see one of my favorite people in the world, Chancellor Carol McCoy, dressed head to toe in pink.

Steeplechase Hats

Everybody looked absolutely perfect.

Steeplechase Best Dressed JPG

After the 4th race they had the annual Steeplechase stick race. This is essentially a bunch of adorable kids running as quickly as possible on stick horses. They ran right on the racetrack, which has the best maintained grass I’ve ever seen.

Steeplechase Stick Horse Race

Believe it or not, there was some horse racing going on too. We had seats right in front of the finish line, which gave us an amazing and ridiculously close view of the event.

Steeplechase Horse Parade

A steeplechase is a jumping race. Instead of a flat race like the Kentucky Derby, the horse jump fences, bushes, and obstacles. Seven races are held throughout the day, but the last one is the big event. It was incredibly exciting to watch Divine Fortune (aptly named) cross the finish line to win the Iroquois Steeplechase.

Steeplechase Finish Line

On the way home, 9 of us piled into Justin’s car, which was clearly built for 5. It was impossible to get everyone in the photo, so this is just the back 2 rows. (Our awesome hosts Minnette and Clay are on the left).

Steeplechase Ride Home

We had a lovely day with perfect weather and wonderful people. Earlier in the week there was an 80% chance of rain predicted, so we felt very lucky to have blue skies and sunshine. While I’m sad I didn’t get to break out my new pink rain boots, I am certainly glad that I didn’t need them.