Turns out, Kentucky doesn't have ALL the races.
Callaway Gardens Steeplechase
Credit: John David Helms Photography

Think you missed your chance to don a big hat and watch some horses race this year? Think again. Set your GPS for Pine Mountain, Georgia, this November 4. Every year for the past 33 years, on the first Saturday in November, locals and racing fanatics gather for The Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens to see Georgia's own steeplechasing event.

This isn't your typical horse race, though it is historic. According to The Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens, "Steeplechasing is a Thoroughbred racing sport that combines the speed of running on the flat with the skill and precision required to jump fences at high speed." You know the race: horses clearing major hurdles (52 inches tall!) and pacing on at swift speeds. It's a sight to see.

Nearly 200 sanctioned steeplechase races spread across 11 states occur every year, and the South is the lucky hostess for many; per Callaway Gardens: "The American Steeplechase circuit begins in the South each spring, works its way northward through the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions, spends its summers at Saratoga Race Course and other flat tracks, and then winds its way South again in the fall."

But it's not just about horses; there's also the Jack Russell Terrier races where wiry little pups will dart to the finish line, a hat contest (full disclosure: Southern Living will be there, hats on, to help judge), and a stick-pony race for the competitive youngsters. Plus, the event always supports local arts; over the years, it has given $4 million to support The Columbus Museum, The Historic Columbus Foundation, The Springer Opera House, The Columbus Symphony, The RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, and The Ida Cason Callaway Foundation

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If you decide to see the historic race for yourself—maybe you'll even cheer on a winner!—tickets start at $30 and get more expensive with an extremely wide variety of options. Shuttles are available from four locations in Columbus, for only $25, but reservations are required. For accommodations, pop in at one of the four lodging options at Callaway Gardens­—they'll be running special packages for the race weekend.