George E. Chase of Atlanta Steeplechase Dies

He was a founder of the Atlanta Steeplechase and owner of stakes-winning Census.

George E. Chase, Sr., one of the founders of the Atlanta Steeplechase, died Sept. 16 of congestive heart failure in Gordonsville, Va., where he moved in 2010. He was 87 years old. A memorial service was held Sept. 20 at Westview Cemetery in Atlanta.

A lifelong horseman, the native of Connecticut moved to Atlanta in the 1950s. There he met his wife, Janet "Jan" Perdue Chase. As members of the Shakerag Hounds, the Chases enjoyed foxhunting with their children, and eventually established their Chase-A-Way farm near Coweta County, Ga.

Chase-A-Way was the venue for several point-to-point races, hunt parties, and events. Through these involvements Chase and fellow hunt member John Wyat conceived the idea of bringing steeplechasing to Atlanta and made the idea a reality. 

With the help of a group of other friends and members of the hunt they established the Atlanta Steeplechase in 1966, an annual event first held at Wyat's farm Horsehoe Bend on the Chattahoochee River. Chase remained active in organizing the event and would later become a member of the Atlanta Steeplechase board of stewards.

The event, which just had its 48th renewal, now takes place in April at Kingston Downs, between Rome and Cartersville, Ga.

Chase also owned stakes-winning steeplechaser Census, who he campaigned for six years. Census was the winner of the inaugural edition of the $250,000 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase, the richest steeplechase race at the time, at Maryland's Fair Hills Race Course in 1986. Chase's 8-year-old gelding, trained by Janet Elliot and ridden by Jeff Teter, won the 2 3/8-mile race by 1 1/2 -lengths in track record time of 4:27 3/5.

Chase is survived by his wife of 58 years, Janet; sons George Edmund Chase, Jr. and Paul Jerome Chase, both of Atlanta; daughter Janet Chase Pendergrast of Gordonsville, Va.; brother Peter Chase of Vero Beach, Fla.; and six grandchildren.