Winterthur Point-to-Point Director Jill Abbott was in a good mood Monday morning as she inspected the race course under a cloudy, rainy day in her all-weather boots and a rain slicker.
That was because the grounds of Winterthur needed the rain badly after a week or so of dry weather, and Abbott had to make a report to the National Steeplechase Association on the track conditions. By Tuesday, thoroughbred horse owners and trainers would have decided whether they would race in Point-to-Point.
"Those decisions are based on the track decisions," she said. "It looks nice and it's a pretty green. But it's also good for our compaction and moisture tests. We test the ground and I have to send those readings to the National Steeplechase Association. And they send them out to the owners and trainers so they can make decisions on whether they are going to run in our race or another race."
To make things even better, Abbott said the forecast for this weekend was ideal for Point-to-Point. As a matter of fact, the National Weather Service in Mount Holly, N.J. predicted mostly sunny skies and a high of 70 degrees on Sunday.
It would be fitting weather for the only steeplechase race in Delaware, Abbott said.
There are four sanctioned races and there are two pony races for youths at Winterthur. The sanctioned races fall under the purview of the National Steeplechase Association, the governing body of steeplechase racing. (Abbott likened NSA to professional baseball's governing body, Major League Baseball.)
Point-to-Point went to sanctioned races eight years ago, Abbott said.
After taking entries on Tuesday, horse owners and trainers would have until Wednesday to pull out of the races or forgo their entry fees, Abbott said.
Each race is three and a quarter miles, she said.
"The track is a mile and a half in a figure eight shape," she said. They run it twice. It's just over 3 miles. There's lot of hills out here. We cut the grass to 6 inches and there is certainly drag, which makes it a very challenging course. It's course that many owners and trainers come back to year after year because they know it's maintained so well."
Abbott said the total purse structure for the NSA sanctioned races was a robust $37,500.
"This is what they do for their livelihood," Abbott said of the jockeys. "This is what they do everyday. And they run for money. This is what they do every weekend. The Winterthur Bowl is $20,000 so it's nothing to sneeze at. That's a nice purse."
The purse is divided up in percentages between the 10 jockeys, with the winner receiving the largest percentage, Abbott said.
Page 2 of 2 - She added that all funds raised through Point-to-Point had gone toward the preservation and maintenance of the garden – the entire grounds of Winterthur.