with Horse and Hound

How Randy Rouse’s National Fence Saved Steeplechasing

brh18.maiden hurdle.maisanoSteeplechase horses swish through the man-made national fences routinely at most hurdle races around the country today. Brush fences were once expensive and time-consuming to set up, and racetracks were dropping steeplechase races from their cards.  /  Joanne Maisano photoIt was autumn of 1973, and the world was in turmoil. U.S. forces were pulling out of Vietnam, the Watergate scandal was rocking the nation, and a looming energy crisis was getting global traction.

The steeplechase circuit, too, was in a state of flux. The year before, the bottom had fallen out of the industry. New York basically kicked out the jumpers and went from eighty-three jump races at Belmont, Aqueduct, and Saratoga in 1970 to fifteen in 1973. And those were at Saratoga only.

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