Leap year puts kink in horse-race schedules

Figuring out which spring horse race occurs when and where may require a scorecard this year as tradition takes a temporary backseat.

Point-to-Point at Winterthur is always the Sunday right after the Kentucky Derby, right? And the Kentucky Derby runs the first Saturday in May. Willowdale typically follows the Sunday after Winterthur, which is generally Mother’s Day.  Not so this year, according to a Winterthur press release.

The change has to do with leap year and the National Steeplechase Association’s (NSA) schedule. NSA is the governing body of the professional sport of steeplechasing and has designed the race conditions (also known as schedules and rules) for the sanctioned races based on a number of criteria. Purse monies distributed to winning owners, location, and the course conditions can determine which horse will run at a particular race.

Since 2016 is a leap year, the first Saturday in May is the 7th. Mother’s Day falls on May 8. Therefore, the Winterthur Race will run on Mother’s Day since that is the day after the Kentucky Derby, and the Willowdale Steeplechase will follow on the next weekend, Sunday, May 15.

Regardless of the date of each race, fans of both are sure to have a wonderful day of racing and fun while supporting a variety of important community charities, the release said, urging residents to mark their calendars.

“A few years ago, Winterthur Point-to-Point restructured the event to make it more convenient, family friendly, and enjoyable.  We will offer a wonderful day to spend with family and friends, and we are going to make it easy and a fun day to treat moms!” Jill Abbott, Winterthur Point-to-Point race director said in the release.

“Change is great!” said Leslie White, Willowdale Steeplechase race director. “While Willowdale is known as a Mother’s Day tradition, a change in date creates an opportunity for people who have not been able to attend Mother’s Day, due to other family obligations, to come to the races! Fans of Willowdale won’t miss a thing – they will still enjoy their much loved community event, exciting racing and fun activities, all while having a day in the country!"

Tradition will return in 2017 when Winterthur reverts back to the first Sunday in May and Willowdale will celebrate its 25th anniversary running, once again, on Mother’s Day.

For details about the 2016 Winterthur Point-to-Point Steeplechase, contact jabbott@winterthur.org or 302-888-4992. For more information on Winterthur, visit winterthur.org, and for Willowdale, go to willowdalesteeplechase.org.


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