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Forget the Kentucky Derby. Crowds head to annual Queen’s Cup Steeplechase.

Queens Cup Steeplechase

Scenes at Saturday's Queens Cup Steeplechase. Since 1996 thoroughbreds have raced in the Queen's Cup Steeplechase at Brooklandwood Racecourse in Mineral Springs, NC. The Queen’s Cup is like no other sporting and social event in the Charlotte regio
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Scenes at Saturday's Queens Cup Steeplechase. Since 1996 thoroughbreds have raced in the Queen's Cup Steeplechase at Brooklandwood Racecourse in Mineral Springs, NC. The Queen’s Cup is like no other sporting and social event in the Charlotte regio

Who needs the Kentucky Derby? Crowds descended on Union County Saturday for the annual Queen’s Cup Steeplechase, a popular equestrian event known almost as much for the colorful hats worn by spectators.

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No surprise here: Nancy Betler, right, won top prize for best women’s hat during the steeplechase. Betler and Stacy Hertel Straub took in the scene at an even that has been taking place since 1996. Diedra Laird dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

Since 1996 thoroughbreds have raced in the steeplechase at Brooklandwood Racecourse in tiny Mineral Springs. The athletic thoroughbreds compete at speeds of up to 30 mph.

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Darren Nagle, riding Henry San, won the Sonitrol Allowance Timber race at the Queens Cup Steeplechase. Diedra Laird dlaird@charlotteobserver.com

The jockeys compete in five horse races, with $150,000 in purse money and the winner’s circle awaiting some lucky owners.

There of course also was a competition for best hat, along with other events including Jack Russell terrier races, pony rides and even tailgating contests.

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