The Dinner Party Stakes was the forerunner of the Preakness. It had one unique distinction - the owner of the winner bought dinner for the losers.

The Seven Corners spring point-to-point steeplechase championship carries the same dubious honor - and it could drive Randy Rouse to the poorhouse.

This evening, Rouse will host the losers, and other followers of the sport, at award ceremonies in his home in Arlington - the ninth time that he has done so in the 17-year history of the competition.

The Seven Corners Challenge Trophy, emblematic of the owner-rider point-to-point championship, will be presented by the Arundel Newspapers.

Rouse won his first championship in 1967, lost it to Mack Crippen in 1968 and then won four in a row. In 1973 Ernest Care grabbed the award, the last tike that anyone but Rouse has been champion.

This year the indesiructible Fairfax hunt rider started out strongly, winning at Casanova and Blue Ridge with Free Movement. During the running of the Dell Cup at Warrenton the 14-year-old Independence gelding broke down.

Rouge, as he had done the year before, turned to Cousin Wes and the 9-year-old bay responded by winning three races in a row - at Potomac, Middleburg and Old Dominion.

The championship is based on how the riders perform in their best five of the nine-race series during the spring. Thus Rouse ended with a perfect score. Runner-up to Rouse was Mike dupont.