History of Montpelier Races
Sadly, the Races for 2020, what would have been the 86th Running, have had to be canceled due to concerns surrounding the Covid 19 Virus. This is only the second time in the Races’s history that they weren’t run. The first cancellation was in 1943 due to World War II. Like this year, many other races were cancelled that year. But the Races came back and and continued to be a tradition in Orange County and we are already looking forward to big plans for a comeback year in 2021.
In 1901, William duPont purchased the Montpelier estate, located four miles west of the Town of Orange, in Virginia’s Piedmont Region. It was the lifelong home of James Madison, the fourth President of the United States,and his wife Dolley. William and his wife Annie, made substantial changes to the house, enlarging it, renovating the formal garden, and adding many outbuildings and stables. Mr. duPont’s daughter, Marion duPont Scott, an accomplished horsewoman, inherited the property from her parents and resided at Montpelier until her death in 1983, at which time the duPont family transferred the property to the National Trust For Historic Preservation.
Mrs. Scott with the help of her brother, William duPont, Jr., transformed Montpelier into a first class Thoroughbred breeding and racing facility, building a state of the art steeplechase course and a flat training track. In 1929, Marion inaugurated the Montpelier Races and opened them to the public. As an owner, Mrs. Scott bred a series of winners from excellent Thoroughbred bloodlines. In 1932, her horse Trouble Maker won the Maryland Hunt Cup, regarded as America’s most challenging timber race, and in 1938, her horse Battleship, a son of Man o’ War, became the first American bred and owned horse to win the British Grand National Steeplechase. Other winners campaigned under her French blue, old rose and silver colors were Mongo, Accra and Annapolis, another son of Man o’ War.
Regarded by many as America’s First Lady of Racing, Marion duPont Scott generously supported the equine industry throughout her life. She donated funds to construct Virginia’s leading equine medical center in Leesburg, which is named in her honor. Her legacy continues with the running of the Montpelier Races, a premier event on the National Steeplechase Association’s circuit, which is always held on the first Saturday in November.