Steeplechase fever hits a high point this weekend in Middleburg with the 28th running of the Virginia Fall Races at Glenwood Park.
City slickers are reminded that a new vocabulary is assumed while at the chase. If a dog is seen at the races, chances are he's not. He's a hound. And those nifty red coats the riders are wearing -- they're called pink. Ninety-six entries were registered for the seven races by the midweek cut-off point. Some scratches are expected, while the total purse money has been pushed to $19,500.
A old-fashioned country fair is an added starter this year. Locally made jams and jellies will be sold as well as fresh farm produce. Pony rides can be had by the tots who didn't enter the races, sponsored by the National Steeplechase and Hunt Association.
The fair begins at 9:30. Post time for the $100 Jack Russell terrier race is noon. Standing between 12 and 16 inches high, the terriers are scheduled to race over a 100-foot obstacle course in a delightful steeplechase.
The featured race, the 21/2-mile Daniel C. Sands Cup, is an example of good steeplechase racing. Top-notch horses with records to prove it take the demanding timber test, with the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop.
To get to the races from Washington, take a right off U.S. 50 in Middleburg at the blinking light.
There's life after Middleburg for Virginia racing. The Foxfield Races in Charlottesville on October 16 offer a six-card program beginning at 2 and a chance to see the leaves change. The $20,000 American Grand National over 2 5/8 miles is featured.
The November 6 Montpelier Hunt, outside Orange, gives the sport five races before the winter rest. Post time is 1:30.