In the top 20 all-time sport leaders
with $1.5 million in earnings since 1970, this year marks the first
time since 1977 Steinman isn’t on an NSA committee of some sort. She
says it “feels a little weird not to be involved,” directly. Though, to
be honest, she is intimately involved, on the board of the
Middleburg Spring Races,
one of two spring meets hoping to "go" in June in one of the weirdest
years on record. For decades she’s provided powerful support – donating
money when requested, lending her considerable business savvy where
appropriate and jumping in at the boots-on-the-ground level as needed.
In 1991, Steinman was recognized
with the Ambrose Clark Award, and NSA director of racing Bill Gallo
dedicated the 2019 NSA yearbook to her.
“Never with an intent to draw
attention to herself,” Gallo wrote, Steinman has given back to the sport
“always with the hope that steeplechasing would benefit.
“NSA has been the beneficiary of her
passion and kindness for a long time, and her impact will be felt
Though she doesn’t believe she’s
driven by the feminist consciousness, Steinman has become one of
steeplechasing's leading ladies -- and leaders, possessing
uncompromising intellect and levelheaded mien in the largely
male-dominated sport. She's learned to be blunt and direct, though
Steinman retains a sense of fairness and overriding loyalty she
developed at the confluence of a strong family dynamic.
Peggy Steinman and NSA director of racing Bill Gallo in
Christian Frederick Steinman was
born in Dresden, in the German state of Saxony in 1711. He immigrated to
America in 1749. The Steinmans had settled in south-central
Pennsylvania by the early 1800s.
Christian’s great-great grandson
Andrew Jackson Steinman started the family legacy in newspapering when
he became publisher of the Lancaster Intelligencer in 1866. His sons
John Frederick and James Hale – Peggy’s father – took over the
broadsheet in 1917.
The Intelligencer, later the Intelligencer-Journal, is today published as
Hale Steinman loved Lancaster and
threw himself into charitable causes supporting residents in need with
as much vigor as his business interests. He founded Lancaster’s Boys
Club – today the
Boys and Girls Club,
in 1939. Steinman family foundations have supported more than 330 local
clubs, schools, programs and hospitals to the tune of over $79 million
since the ’40s.
Hale Steinman. Photo courtesy of Peggy Steinman.
In 2010, Peggy Steinman took over as chair of
Steinman Enterprises, the family’s publishing and business group that produces
Lancaster Farming and Lancaster County Weeklies plus controls Steinman Coal Co. and
restaurant in Lancaster. Like she’s stepped away from
active management of steeplechasing, she now serves Steinman
Enterprises as ex-officio.
The colonial revivalist
where Steinman grew up had been purchased and refurbished by her father
Hale in 1927. Conestoga House was originally a tavern on the Conestoga
wagon trail, along Conestoga Creek a couple miles out of town. She moved
out in March when the historic mansion was
sold to a Lancaster foundation for weddings and events.
The Conestoga wagon
was designed by German craftsmen around what became Lancaster,
Pennsylvania, near Conestoga Creek (also called the Conestoga River) in
the late 1700s.
Creek is a tributary of the Susquehanna River that flows through the
center of Lancaster County. The word “Conestoga” derives from the
Iroquois language, meaning “people of the cabin pole.” Before the
arrival of European settlers in the region, the Conestoga were a Native
American tribe also known as the Susquehanna.
The Steinman family’s coal mining
interests are in northwest Pennsylvania and southwest Virginia. There’s
even a town, more of a sleepy crossroads, named for them. Steinman,
Virginia is in the wild, rural mountains near Virginia’s border with
West Virginia and Kentucky.
Growing up privileged in the early
1900s came with plenty of benefits, including a stable and riding horses
on the Steinman estate. The whole family rode, Steinman says, and
horses played a role in her young life.
She got her first pony when she was 4.
Hale Steinman was a master of
surprises, Steinman says of her creative and fun-loving father. He
secretly set up a makeshift, temporary stall in the historic house’s
formal first-floor library late in the night on Christmas eve, 1938,
lining it deeply with golden straw and sneaking in his youngest
daughter’s gift before daybreak Christmas day.
“I came down that morning, and there
a pony in the house,” Steinman recalls equal measure bewilderment and
excitement. Black-and-white pinto “Skippy” became her constant companion
the next few years as they adventured the neighborhood and practiced in
the show arena across the street. It fueled a lifelong love for horses,
The advantaged upbringing didn’t
mean it was all fun and games: Steinman got her first paying job at 6,
operating the elevator at the family newspaper’s brand-new West King
Street building. It was five stories, well within the scope of the
She was paid $1 per week, and the
duty taught Steinman, early, she says, the importance of “always doing a
Steinman went to high school at
Foxcroft in Middleburg, Virginia, riding with the
Middleburg Hunt with school founder, Miss Charlotte Haxall Noland, and hunting in Pennsylvania when home on breaks.
She studied at
Mount Vernon Junior College
in Washington, D.C., returning to Lancaster to join the newspaper staff
in the mid-1950s. She wrote a political column and helped run the
business. Steinman started riding with trainer Eggie Mills in
Pennsylvania, through him meeting judge and trainer Paul Fout at a horse
show in the early 1960s to create a true pivot-point in her equine
Her one and only: Trainer Paul Fout
Virginia trainer Paul Fout managed Steinman’s jump and flat horses
until his death in 2005 at age 78 when son Doug took the
board member of the Virginia Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective
Association, Paul Fout was a past chairman, president and manager of the
Middleburg Spring Race Association, naturally leading to Steinman’s involvement with the meet. She still serves on the board.
Mills and Fout encouraged Steinman
“to get a racehorse,” she recalls, saying the first part of horse
ownership was to design her silks. Always one for a theme, Steinman
chose her “favorite colors,” kelly green with a pink sash.
Steinman hit the ground running,
winning with her first jump meet starter – the Fout-trained Dream Spirit
winning for rider Noel Twyman at Richmond’s old Deep Run Races in
April, 1970. She won with one of her first major track starters, too,
Dauncy – who remains one of her all-time favorite horses – taking a
handicap the next summer at Belmont Park.
Steinman’s flat horses also launched
her into the top of the game: Chrisaway won the 1972 Bernard Baruch at
Saratoga and the Del Mar Handicap in California.
‘Much ado about the Travers canoe’
That was the provocative headline about a mysterious larceny reported in the Aug. 20, 1990 “
Saratogian,” Saratoga Springs, New York’s newspaper of record since 1855.
Peggy Steinman was implicated. Sort of.
The Aug. 19 Travers Stakes had been
won by 1989 juvenile champion Rhythm, a sixth-generation homebred for
Ogden Phipps. Just after the handsome son of Mr. Prospector crossed the
wire 3 ½ lengths in front in the $1 million grade 1 known as the
Midsummer Derby, the track crew set to work painting the canoe that
floats on the infield pond at the Saratoga Racecourse in Phipps’ colors.
Since 1961, the colors of the
Travers winner have been painted on the canoe moored in the pond since
1926. It was actually just a touch-up job: The canoe was already painted
in Phipps’ historic black body/cherry red cap since his Easy Goer had
won the race in 1989. Phipps’ Buckpasser won in 1966.
The 2016 version of the Travers canoe in the infield at Saratoga, painted in the Juddmonte Farms colors.
Champion jockey in 1989 (and, again
in ’93) Chuck Lawrence remembers like it was yesterday. “Me and the boys
had been at the Parting Glass all night long after the Travers,”
recalls Lawrence, now a flat trainer based at Fair Hill. He recalls the
night well, having just missed winning the Turf Writers on Thursday –
second by a neck on French Hill to Ben Guessford on Double Bill.
Saturday night, he says, they were feeling good, and a little fractious.
“I don’t know who had the bright
idea to steal the canoe, but everybody always said it was a tradition
for the jump riders to take it.”
Lawrence and four or five others left the
Parting Glass, piled into his Mercedes and drove a mile to the big, and by this time of night, dark and empty
Siro’s parking lot on Lincoln Avenue, a block from the track’s west grandstand entrance.
“We snuck in and grabbed the canoe.
Took it out a little gate in the chain-link fence that wasn’t locked. We
ran towards the
Reading Room, and put the canoe on top of my car.
“We put our hands out the sunroof
and held the canoe. There was black and red paint getting on everything –
top of my car, our hands – while we drove (around) trying to decide
what to do with it.”
He also doesn’t remember – or won’t
say – who thought of putting the canoe in the brand-new swimming pool at
Steinman’s Fifth Avenue home, but Lawrence thought it a brilliant plan.
He and most of the steeplechase colony had been at the handsome Greek
Revival house for an afternoon fete a couple weeks before on Open House
day, and many of the pros – including fully-dressed Hall of Famer Joe
Aitcheson, had ended up in the pool.
It was the perfect place for the
loot, Lawrence says. There was a huge blowup dinosaur. They put the
dinosaur in the canoe, the canoe in the pool and took off.
National Steeplechase Association
board director Bill Pape, a house-guest of Steinman’s, picks up the
narrative. “So, we get up the next morning, and you’d think someone was
murdered,” says Pape. “The track police, the Pinkerton’s, the regular
town police – they were all over the lawn. Somebody had tipped them off,
and the newspaper was there, too.” Steeplechase photographer Catherine
French was there to record the action.
“I went out to talk to the police,”
Pape says. “I was assuring them everything would be taken care of, to
“Peggy comes out of the house – some
people remember she was in her bathrobe, but I don’t remember. She
comes over and I tell the police sergeant ‘here’s the lady you’ll have
“The sergeant kind of laughed, but
not really,” Steinman continues the story. “He was scowling. It wasn’t
funny, but it really was.
“There was black and red paint on my pool toys, though.”
Sean Clancy, who went on to the 1998
rider title, wasn’t involved in the escapade, but he remembers the next
morning at the Oklahoma annex, no one would own up to the theft. “The
boys had red and black paint on their hands, their forearms, their
chins, everywhere, as they were being questioned.”
“I’d gotten kicked out of the bar
for being 20 years old earlier that night,” Clancy explains. “Probably a
blessing. It was classic.”
“That was a different time back
then,” Lawrence stresses. “You pull that crap these days and they’d take
you down and put you in jail.”
All class, a touch of sass
Peggy Steinman was a preppy before
that even had a name – her 1960s-registered kelly green-and-pink silks
prove it, though she’s long followed the sartorial muse. Steinman
operated the Devon Horse Show’s largest clothes and jewelry boutique for
more than 20 years, later
opening the Showcase of Fashions in downtown Lancaster. She sold the store three years ago.
regards to her famously recognizable coif – think Lady Bird Johnson
meets Amy Winehouse, years ago Steinman says she “found what works” for
her hairstyle, and she’s stuck with the classic ’do. She attributes the
trademark look to “a lot of hair spray” and a standing appointment with
She was named to the NSA (then NSHA)
board in 1977 by president George Strawbridge Sr. Also an accredited
steward, Steinman says committees are charged with handling “all the
nitty gritty” of rules and regulations, requiring an eagle eye and
exhaustive research to dissect the ever-changing issues.
She had a stable-full of horses with
trainer Doug Fout ready to roll this spring season, and her homebred Be
Somebody won a race at the Warrenton Point-to-Point before COVID19 shut
down horse racing along with the rest of the world. Steinman says she’s
hopeful the 100th annual Middleburg Spring Races will run on their
rescheduled date of June 13, but that’s pending approval of Virginia’s
governor and secretary of agriculture.
“We can only hope,” she says.
Peggy Steinman and Doug Fout in the paddock at Saratoga in August of 2013.
Doug Fout first met Peggy Steinman in 1963. He was 5.
Then, as now, Fout called her “Aunt Peggy.”
When he was 6, he accidentally
almost terminated the relationship. “Aunt Peggy was taking me and
(sister) Nina to town to get ice cream. She has this fancy new station
wagon. She parked at the top of the hill at my parents’ place when we
“Everybody got out and went inside,
but I stayed out there, playing around in the car. I climbed over the
seat and was pretending I was driving and put it in gear.
“Oh my god that car ran down the
hill and practically jumped the stone wall down at the bottom. Good
thing it got caught on a tree of I would have ended up in the river.
“Only thing I got was a scratch.
Poor Peggy. Fortunately, that’s one of those things we can laugh about
Doug Fout's mishap hasn't kept Peggy Steinman from riding in a vehicle
with him again. Here Beth and Dunn Fout catch a ride with Doug and Peggy
to watch the 2008 Virginia Fall Races.
Steinman’s forgiving nature showed
again a decade later when Fout made his first hurdle start at the 1975
Virginia Gold Cup. He was on her veteran handicapper, Dauncy.
Fout was 16. He remembers the day at the old Broadview course.
“Dad always told me to look between
the horse’s ears, don’t get in trouble and don’t get in anybody’s way,”
Fout says. “So I’m between (horses) heading to that last hurdle down the
hill. The hurdle is set straight, but the beacon was way down on the
“Next thing you know the horse has
sliced the turn – he knew the course, of course (fourth in the 1972
handicap there with Tom Skiffington) – and I’m flying through the air. I
think he galloped the rest of the way with the field, crossed the wire
in front, pulled himself up and jogged back to the barn.
“I walked back up the stretch like a
whipped puppy dog. I was so embarrassed. Later, Aunt Peggy wrote me a
letter saying ‘Those things happen. Things will get better. No worries.’
“I’ve still got that letter. It meant a lot.”
same year, 1975, Doug Fout was in the win photo when Chrisaway won the
Midsummer at Monmouth, with trainer Paul Fout, Peggy Steinman, and
jockey Jerry Fishback.
Steinman has been playful in the
name-game with homebreds and auction purchases alike. At times, she’s
favored publishing-linked names, she says, but she also uses meaningful
Purchased at Keeneland September,
is named for her Fifth Street home in Saratoga. The property also faces
East Avenue, the road that leads to the main gate at Saratoga at the
intersection with Union Avenue.
was a winner on the dirt, out of homebred Tres Jolie, out of Steinman’s
French import Sarh. Sarh was second in Victorian Hill’s 1990 Colonial
is out of Stage Call, out of graded stakes-placed listed winner
Corporate Fund, by Steinman’s Purely Pleasure, a son of Secretariat
purchased by Paul Fout for Steinman at the Saratoga yearling sale.
Reporter is by Yes Its True out of Skirmish. Skirmish was a $360,000 Saratoga yearling by War Chant.
Mr. Scribbler, another three-times homebred, is by Stephen Got Even out of Steinman’s Street Cry mare Rare Wine.
Quick Print and
Data Base are both out of Steinman Saratoga yearling purchase
out of Steinman’s French import Alkara, was a point-to-point winner for
Steinman before sold her to Virginia horseman Randy Rouse. The Printer
went on to break her hurdle maiden at Montpelier under Barry Wiseman
before Rouse’s wife, Michele, took over the mount and turned the
chestnut mare to timber. The Printer won three ladies’ timber races and
earned the 1990 Virginia leading race mare over fences championship.
Dauncy’s part in the story wasn’t
done: Paul Fout used him as a lead pony when he retired from racing.
“We were in Camden, and Miss
Steinman was there and asked if she could come out with us (on
horseback) to jog a set. My dad said Dauncy would be perfect. We’d jog
three-quarters a mile, and the plan was for her to pull up and go over
and stand with my father on the rail while we galloped.
“So, we’re still jogging, and I look
over and Dauncy is gone. Peggy’s up there, no helmet, hunt saddle, her
hair slicked back in the wind as that horse galloped around like he was
in the stretch at the Colonial Cup. She’s pulling and pulling, and that
old goat is just a’rolling.
“My dad is over there about to have a
heart attack. She gets him pulled up and jogs over with this big smile.
‘I guess we should put him back in training’.
“It’s funny now. It wasn’t funny then.”
Fout and Steinman at the Virginia Fall Races in 2017. Steinman's Reporter won the ratings hurdle with Shane Crimin, up.
NSHA president 1979-1987, and
1991-1998, Bill Pape’s says his horse career pretty much parallels
Steinman’s. “We met at the Piping Rock Horse Show (on Long Island, New
York). That was a long time ago,” says Pape, 90 and NSA’s third all-time
leading owner. “Peggy worked very hard on behalf of the hunt meets.
She’s very motivated, not really one to just sit around. She’s extremely
“And her parties. Oh, the parties.
She’d throw excellent parties very much in the old theme, straight out
of ‘The Great Gatsby.’ She loves to entertain, and you know that’s about
getting people on board for the causes she was supporting.
“I talked to her just the other day,
and she was getting ready to personally deliver face masks to the kids
at the Boys and Girls Club. She’s always in motion, even today. A really
Steinman chairs the advisory council for Leesburg, Virginia’s
Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center. A barn built on the Virginia Tech hospital campus in 2009 was dedicated to trainer Paul Fout, who died in 2005.
Fout had long supported the center,
most notably helping procure funds to purchase, outfit and operate the
center’s equine ambulance, easily recognized parked on the backstretch
at all the Virginia steeplechase meets.
Steinman was presented the Distinguished Service Award by the EMC in 2010.
150 dignitaries and guests gathered at the Marion duPont Equine Medical
Center for the dedication of the Paul R. Fout Barn in April of 2009
Photo courtesy of the Marion duPont Equine Medical Center.
Pick(s) of the litter
One of Peggy Steinman’s best was homebred
Foaled in Kentucky in 1996, Colstar is by Breeders’ Cup Mile winner
Opening Verse, out of Ascend, a daughter of Risen Star purchased by Paul
Fout at the Ocala 2-year-olds in training sales.
Colstar won the grade 3 Martha
Washington at Laurel, returning at 4 to win the grade 3 Gallorette at
Pimlico, the grade 3 Locust Grove Handicap at Churchill and the grade 1
Flower Bowl at Belmont.
She was seventh in the Breeders’ Cup
distaff turf back at Churchill that November, just 4 ½ lengths off
winner Perfect Sting.
Spring of 2001, Colstar won the
Searching Stakes at Pimlico and grade 3 Locust Grove Handicap at
Churchill before annexing the All Along at Colonial Downs that summer,
another grade 3, in her final start.
Colstar has produced six foals to
race, including jump-related Be Somebody, a winner of one of 2020’s only
jump races to date – the amateur hurdle at the Warrenton Hunt
Point-to-Point, and Speed Ahead, a winner on the turf last fall at
Doug Fout with Be Somebody after a win in the Amateur Novice Hurdle race at Warrenton this spring.
a son of Herbager was a coast-to-coast superstar for Steinman and Fout.
He was a graded stakes-placed multiple stakes winner, taking the 1972
Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga and a division of the Del Mar
Handicap a month later, the only time the west coast classic has been
split in its 82-year-history. Chrisaway missed the 1974 season but came
back over hurdles in 1975. He won at first asking at Tanglewood that
April with Al Quanbeck, with Jerry Fishback aboard winning next out at
Virginia Gold Cup and capturing the spring finale, the National
Steeplechase at Fair Hill.
was twice-placed that summer in handicap company at Delaware Park and
won the Midsummer Handicap at Monmouth in his final start.
Chrisaway and Jerry Fishback on their way to a win at Monmouth.
vaulted from maiden to tangling for the Eclipse in 1977. The 4-year-old
import was easily identifiable – nearly black, a perfect foil for
Steinman’s bright green blinkers. Doug Fout had started the season as a
7-pound bug, but Bel Iman helped erase the apprentice allowance,
notching maiden victory at Stoneybrook in April, following up at
Tanglewood, Radnor and Monmouth.
Bel Iman put in four
uncharacteristically modest efforts at Saratoga but returned to form in
the fall. He beat eventual champions Cafe Prince, Leaping Frog and Fire
Control in the Gwathmey, then run at Belmont Park. He lost on the nod to
Cafe Prince at Far Hills, and gave weight to Laing winner Fire Control
Bel Iman lost the Eclipse tussle to
eventual champion Cafe Prince after leading into the Colonial Cup
stretch in November.
He retired to stud, and the Steinman
line carried on through daughter Bel Cristal. A modest winner over
hurdles out of 1975 ’chase champion Life’s Illusion (trained by Paul
Fout,) Bel Cristal produced homebred jump winners Carnival Glass,
Corporate King and turf winner Swiss Connection.
Life’s Illusion, the only mare to
win the steeplechase Eclipse, never replicated her championship make-up,
though she did mother hurdle and timber winner I Chase The Clouds and
hurdle winner Mysterious Guide.
Essex Race Meeting (now Far Hills Race Meeting), Martin Memorial. Left
to right: Cafe Prince (Jerry Fishback, up) -1st for Augustin Stables;
Bel Iman II (Doug Fout, up) - 2nd for Peggy Steinman.
was a winner at 3 at the prestigious Valparaiso Sporting Club in his
native Chile before imported to the U.S. by Charlie Cushman. The
gorgeous gray broke his hurdle maiden for Steinman, trainer Paul Fout
and rider Jerry Fishback at Saratoga at 4, back when maidens were
allowed to run at the Spa.
He came back at 5 with wins under
Doug Fout at Belmont Park and Saratoga, and kicked off a six-race
winning streak at Rolling Rock that stretched through to the 1978
Virginia Gold Cup meet.
Don Panta (Doug Fout, up) on his way to winning the 1977 Daniel Sands Cup at the VA Fall Races.
Show trainer M. Edgar ‘Eggie’ Mills
Old-school horseman M. Edgar
“Eggie” Mills Jr. was one of Peggy Steinman’s first links to the horse
Mills, who died at age 76 in
2007, was based in Chester Springs, Pennsylvania in the 1950s and ’60s
where he trained show horses. Steinman was a client, competing as an
One of their best was Steinman’s
Not Always, a bay thoroughbred hunter that was American Horse Shows
Association green and working hunter champion in 1963.
Mills and wife, Sally, moved
Steinman’s show horses with them when they relocated to Virginia in the
mid-1960s. Mills gave the show ride on Not Always to Orange County
horseman Rodney Jenkins and turned his attention to racing. Mills
partnered with the late Paul Fout and Lewis Wiley to purchase and
operate the Middleburg Training Center (formerly privately owned by Paul
Mellon.) It was around this time Mills and Fout suggested that Steinman
“might have some fun” owning a racehorse, too.
Mills focused on starting young
horses and reconditioning older runners, including stakes winner Palace
Ruler, who he later stood at stud. Longtime manager of the
Upperville Colt and Horse Show, in 2005 Mills was placed on the show’s Wall of Honor.
Steinman was appointed to the
Assay Commission in 1970, serving on the testing board during the Nixon
presidency. From 1792-1980, the commission supervised annual testing of
the gold, silver and base metal coins produced by the U.S. mint to
ensure that they met specifications.
Although some members were
designated by statute, for the most part the commission, which was
freshly appointed each year, consisted of prominent Americans, and
appointment to the Assay Commission was eagerly sought after, in part
because commissioners received a
commemorative medal. These medals, different each year, are extremely rare.
The Mint Act of 1792 authorized
the commission, and beginning in 1797, it met in most years at the
Philadelphia Mint. Members would gather in Philadelphia to ensure the
weight and fineness of silver and gold coins issued the previous year
were to specifications. In 1971, the mint no longer produced real silver
coinage, and Pres. Jimmy Carter
abolished the commission in 1980.
The award-winning Steinman
In 1991, Steinman became the 19th
recipient of the F. Ambrose Clark Award for her contributions to the
“I cannot think of anyone more
deserving … than Peggy Steinman,” then-president Bill Pape wrote in that
year’s NSHA yearbook. “When steeplechasing has any need, Peggy has
immediately pitched in. Her hard work and sound judgment have played a
significant role in steeplechasing’s growth.”
In ’91, Steinman served as
association vice-president and chair of the course, fence and safety
The Clark award caught Steinman by
surprise. “I never even thought about it,” she characteristically played
down her role. “I feel truly honored” to receive the recognition
created in 1965 in memory of steeplechase horseman Brose Clark. “I have
attempted to figure out the … committee’s selection this year. The best I
can come up with is … my willingness to enter horses so others will
have competition that they can beat.”