Steeplechase Opener at Tampa Bay Downs Shelved

Opening day 2002 for the National Steeplechase Association was pushed back one day with the cancellation of Saturday's hurdle race at Tampa Bay Downs. Originally part of a two-day steeplechase weekend in Florida, the $25,000 allowance hurdle did not attract sufficient entries and was canceled in a joint decision by the NSA and the racetrack.

The race was canceled due to a low field size. Field size and quality are important factors whenever the NSA cards a race at a racetrack with pari-mutuel wagering and novice steeplechase fans. Attempts to expand the field failed. Reasons ranged from shipping distance and the race's timing early in the season to drought conditions in the Mid-Atlantic steeplechase-training region.

Tampa Bay Downs hosted steeplechases races in 2000 (seven runners) and 2001 (eight), and the option remains for future jump races at the track.

On Sunday, the second annual Little Everglades Steeplechase in Dade City, Florida, returns with a lineup that includes a $40,000 stakes, three maiden races and a claiming race.