by Patricia N. Saffran
Amongst the pleasures of spring is the appearance of festive charity events for horse lovers such as My Lady’s Manor Steeplechase for the benefit of Ladew Topiary Gardens, Monkton, MD, April 15, 2017.
The garden should be in bloom and many racegoers will stroll through this enchanting property before the races. The annual steeplechase races are held down the road at the Eldridge-Harford Hunt Club, where racegoers can tailgate. Some attendees like to set up elaborate picnic tables, establishing a party atmosphere for friends and family.
Four races will be run over timber fences featuring 5 year olds and up. The race card begins at 1:30 PM with the first leg of the 107th running of Maryland’s Steeplechase Triple Crown My Lady’s Manor Steeplechase Race, with a $30,000 purse. This historic race was first run in 1909.
Last year’s race was won by Irish Thoroughbred Ebanour ridden by his usual jockey, Gustav Dahl, and trained by Cyril Murphy. Ebanour went on to win two more important races and won a total of $78,000. earnings for the year. Event chairman Turney McKnight says, “We hope Ebanour will race here again but we won’t know for sure until we have all the entries [closer to race day.]”
Race two is The John Rush Streett Memorial (two divisions with $15,000 for each purse), and lastly The John D. Schapiro Memorial ($15,000 purse).
Harvey S. Ladew
Ladew Topiary Gardens is the creation of the independently wealthy bon vivant New Yorker, Harvey S. Ladew II. In 1929, he thought that Westbury, LI, was too developed for his favorite sport, fox hunting. Ladew looked elsewhere for more open countryside and purchased a rural property in northern Maryland, Pleasant Valley Farm. He then transformed the grounds into what is now considered by the Garden Club of America as “the most outstanding topiary garden in America.” Ladew formed a non-profit organization in 1971 to preserve the gardens for the public. He died in 1976 at 90 with the knowledge that his residence and grounds would be widely appreciated.
As to this year’s race day, down the road from the gardens, the public can get close to the horses as they are paraded in the paddock before each race. The three mile course is run over 16 fences ranging from 3’6” to 3’9” in the rolling fields that Ladew himself so admired. The event is sanctioned by the Maryland Steeplechase Association and the National Steeplechase Association. PNC Bank is the main sponsor.