CAMDEN, SC (WIS) - Horse racing fans who also love college football will no longer have to choose between the Colonial Cup and college football games in November.
The Marion DuPont Scott Colonial Cup steeplechase will no longer be run in November in Camden.
The Carolina Cup Racing Association announced it is combining the Colonial Cup race with the Carolina Cup race meet, held in the spring. The Board of Directors decided to suspend the fall meet, which has been run since 1970, beginning in November 2017.
"The board agonized over this decision and delayed it over the last four to five years. College football is a significant competitor of ours in the fall and it was really a financial decision," said Carolina Cup Racing Association CEO Nick Ellis. "What can we do to save Mrs. Scott's baby? This really was her legacy."
While nearly 50,000 fans attend the Carolina Cup in the spring, the Colonial Cup has to compete with the college football season with its mid-November date.
"Quite frankly, the organization tried everything possible to maintain the Colonial Cup meet on its original fall date," he said. "But times have changed; college football has grown in importance and resulted in significantly lower attendance and revenue at the Colonial Cup."
"The Colonial Cup was suffering financially and it was putting pressure on the Carolina Cup," said racing association vice chair John Cushman, a former jockey and longtime Camden businessman.
"This decision has been in the back of our minds for many, many years," Ellis said. "The board has . . . supported all sorts of strategic changes to the way they handle the meet, moved the date, moved it from Saturday to Sunday. Last year we had the football on, telecast on the Jumbotron that was in the infield."
There should be no conflict with having both races on the same day as horses are not qualified to run in both. The Carolina Cup is usually run by horses early in their steeplechasing careers, while the Colonial Cup entries are proven racers with several years of racing experience.
"The Carolina Cup has always been our flagship event, and adding the Colonial Cup to the program will provide new significance to the spring meet. The change will permit the CCRA to focus its efforts on the spring meet and to preserve its commitment to its charitable beneficiary, The Health Services District of Kershaw County," Ellis said.
He said transferring the Colonial Cup to the spring date perpetuates Mrs. Marion DuPont Scott's commitment to top-level racing at the Springdale Race Course.
"Her guiding principle was to have the highest-quality racing at Springdale," Ellis said. "This change in the schedule will allow the board to maintain its commitment both to her legacy and to the Camden community."
"We saved the Colonial Cup race, which was Mrs. Scott's, you know, that was her race," Cushman said. "She gave this property to the state of South Carolina and this was her race. It was the first $100,000 race in the world.
Board members of the Carolina Cup Racing Association said spectators will be able to see the sport's best, experienced horses and rising stars on the same day.
"It's going to be twice as exciting and twice as much fun," said Ellis.