The Aiken County Sheriff's Office is increasing the number of law enforcement officers at Steeplechase this year. (WRDW-TV / March 22, 2012)
News 12 at 11 o'clock / Friday, March 23, 2012
AIKEN, S.C. -- Come rain or shine, the Steeplechase is on for Saturday, but bad weather could make things a little more difficult for those watching.
On Friday, storm clouds loomed over Conger Field. A scene many hope they wont see tomorrow.
Alan Darlington is the senior patrol judge. He says the rain won't spoil the fun.
"It won't be as much fun as if it's sunny and breezy and pretty, but you know the races will go on and the people will enjoy themselves, I hope," he said.
He's been working as a patrol judge at the Steeplechase in Aiken for 28 years and said he can't remember the last time severe weather hit during Steeplechase.
"Maybe once or twice, if that many. I didn't keep track, but I don't remember dealing with the rain really," he said.
But he says it doesn't matter because the rain won't affect the horses or the course.
"This course here is sandy and even with the rain, it's got a good firm bottom."
A sandy course means no mud, which is good news for the people who are planning to attend.
Even though there is no mud, the course is still wet, so make sure you prepare accordingly. Toss an umbrella, raincoat, some boots and even some towels in your car before you head to the races.
The only possible delays on Saturday would be caused by lightning.
"They'll get all six races in one way or another, it just depends on how long the lightening lasts," Darlington said.
He said lightning can put the horses' safety at risk.
"A lot of people don't realize [that] horses attract lightning," he said.
Horses that will be out racing tomorrow even in the rain and Darlington said he hopes the people will be there, too.
"Show up. It will go on," he said.
Another thing to watch out for Saturday is the wind. If you planning to put up a tent to protect you from that rain, make sure it is securely in the ground and all the ropes are tied down tightly.
Gates open at 10 a.m. Post time for the first race is 1 p.m.