Steeplechase Owner Houghland Dies at 93

Houghland won Iroquois Steeplechase events as a rider and owner.

(Edited release)

Steeplechase owner Calvin Houghland, who had recently turned 93, died Oct. 27, according to Houghland was a lifelong resident of Brentwood, Tenn., and owned Bright Hour Farm.

Houghland was perhaps best known as a guiding force for the steeplechase horse racing industry, especially the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville’s Warner Park. Nurtured into the sport by his father, Mason Houghland, Calvin Houghland participated actively in the sport his entire life.

To the end, Houghland remained active in the steeplechase community and pursued perhaps his greatest challenge – win the three-mile Iroquois. Only five months ago, Houghland conquered the last Iroquois he ever saw, winning the 68th running with an English-bred longshot, Pierrot Lunaire. Just last week, he had another horse in the $250,000 Breeders’ Cup Grand National Steeplechase (NSA-I) in Far Hills, N.J.

It was the Iroquois, the race within riding distance to his farm, that tugged hardest at Houghland. He served three decades as chair of the premier Nashville sporting activity, leaving the position in 1991, watching the Iroquois rise as other steeplechase events evaporated.

As a rider, Houghland won the Iroquois in 1943 on Frederick II. As an owner, he claimed the 1958, 1961,  and 1964 runnings, then had to wait another 38 years before claiming it again with the Eclipse Award-winning All Gong in 2002. In May, Pierrot Lunaire made Houghland the only owner to ever win five Iroquois crowns.

In 2001, he was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, becoming one of two inductees with ties to the state’s steeplechase industry.

In 2008, Houghland followed his father into the Iroquois Hall of Fame.