The weather delays appear to be over for the area steeplechase season, which moves into the heart of the schedule this weekend. There will be major racing nearly every weekend until the professional tracks open in late June.
This Saturday the Potomac Hunt will offer a nine-race card at Belvedere Farm near Potomac Village and the Piedmont Fox Hounds will stage its 37th point-to-point meeting at Saleem Farm just outside Upperville.
Potomac is the only meeting that offers a race in both the Governor's Cup and Seven Corners spring series. The first usually is a six-race battle for Maryland's point-to-point title, while the second is a nine-race duel for the Virginia championship.
The Governor's Cup has been weathered down to four races the year. Potomac, Elkridge-Harford, Marlborough and Middletown Valley. A masterful rearrangement of the Virginia schedule has saved all but the Fairflax meet. After Upperville the remain Dominion, Oatlands, Blue Ridge and Rappahannock.
The Virginia meets also offer the annual battle for top rider honors, for Viginia timber horse of the year, and for the famed First Colony hurdles championship.
The National Steeplechase and Hunt Association's spring schedule moves into the area in mid-April after completion of the "Dixie Circuit" in Georgia and the Carolinas. Virginia's "triple crown" of Middle-burg, Strawberry Hill (Deep Run) and the Virginia Gold Cup are scheduled for April 23 and 29 and May 6. Foxfield, a brand-new sanctioned (cash prizes) race meet, will be run May 13 near Charlottesville.
Maryland's big three, My Lady's Manor at Monkton, the Grand National at Butler and the Hunt Cup at Glyndon, are set for the last three weeks of April.
Fair Hill, the only meeting on the hunt race circuit that offers parimutuel betting, is scheduled for May 29 and June 10.