CAMDEN, SC (WACH) - Thousands of people will travel to Camden Saturday for one of the biggest social events of the year for South Carolina, the Carolina Cup.
"We come here to Camden because it's a lovely, sandy soil. It's a very good training center, and it's manicured beautifully," said horse trainer Janet Elliot.
Elliot has a farm in Pennsylvania, but chooses to spend January through May training at Springdale.
The warm temperatures and facility layout make it easier to keep racehorses comfortable.
"Keeping the racehorse sound is a big job 'cause they carry a thousand pounds of body weight on those little spindley legs. Spindley legs, you know, that are much smaller than mine. You can see why they'd be prone to injury," said Elliot.
According to Laura Shull, Carolina Cup Racing Association board member, around 1,000 horses barrel through the Camden facility each year.
The Carolina Cup Racing Association oversees the running of the training center and the Carolina and Colonial cups.
"The horse industry as a whole in Kershaw County really does mean business," said Shull.
Trainers like Elliot who stay for months at a time are an economic asset to the area.
"Steeplechase racing is a branch of flat racing, the thoroughbred horse racing world, and so we have jockeys, owners, and trainers that come from England, Ireland, France, all over the world," said Teri Leigh Teed, Assistant Director of the Carolina Cup Racing Association.
The equine business requires dedication, commitment and a love for animals.
"I love animals and I don't know that I ever intended to race horses, but it's sort of, you know, one of those things that happens," said Elliot.
It is a profession that has worked for decades for the city of Camden.
The Carolina Cup, which is the second race in the national steeplechase circuit, is celebrating its 80th year. All of the races have been held on the same grounds.
"The biggest single change to the Carolina Cup in the last 80 years has been the addition of College Park. That has allowed us to grow very successfully with a younger crowd," said Shull. "The racing is still pretty much what the racing was 80 years ago."
Shull believes there will be many more races to enjoy in the future.
"Thanks to Mrs. Marion duPont Scott this facility will be here forever. It's a very unique property, always has been, but in my opinion it will continue to become more unique and more valuable in a number of ways moving forward. A lot of cities and counties are not preserving gifts like this," said Shull.
Click here to go behind the scenes at Springdale Race Course.