Horsin’ around Good times break into a full gallop at Charleston Trials on St. Patrick’s Day

Before the horses ran Sunday, jockeys Gus Dahl (from right), Bernard Dalton and Mark Watts sprinted down the homestretch in a St. Patrick’s Day footrace at the Charleston Trials at Stono Ferry.

Dale Kieber was multitasking Sunday before the Charleston Trials at Stono Ferry.

The Summerville resident wore a green vest and a green tie that lit up as he prepared for the inaugural steeplechase horse-racing event, which coincided with St. Patrick’s Day.

Kieber adjusted his derby and pulled out a generator, fired up a grill and set up a 52-inch high-definition television on the back of his pickup truck.

“It’s for NASCAR,” Kieber said of the big TV. “They have a big race in Bristol (Tenn.). I want it all. I’ll watch it all.”

Kieber had a prime location in the infield. His party was located between the final jump and the finish line.

“You can’t get a spot like this for the fall races,” he said. “This is a great cap to a great weekend. I went to the North Charleston St. Patrick’s Day festivities and they had (a huge) block party. It must have stretched three blocks.”

The races served as a tuneup for the prestigious Carolina Cup, to be held later this month in Camden. Sunday’s beautiful weather brought out a crowd of about 3,000 spectators on a day that was part race, part St. Patrick’s Day and part Mardi Gras.

The Hat Divas, a group of about 50 women involved in numerous charity events in the Lowcounty, were well-represented at the event.

The group’s president, Belinda Roberts, has always wanted to spend a day at the races. “I’ve always wanted to go to the (Kentucky) Derby, and I guess this will be as close as I get.”

Another Hat Diva, Brenda Bryant, lived in the Aiken area before moving to Mount Pleasant.

“I’ve been to the (Aiken) Trials and the Camden Cup,” Bryant said. “I heard a lot of advertisements and read about (the Charleston Trials) and it sounds like a lot of fun. It’s the culmination of a great St. Patrick’s Day weekend.”

For most of the crowd, the day was about pleasure. But for some, it included a little business as well.

Two men in the limousine business showed off their impressive automobiles. Tobin Williams brought his 1929 Chevrolet while Ryan Crabtree had his 1957 Bentley.

“For us, this is a day of networking,” Crabtree said. “Eighty-five percent of our business comes from weddings, so we invited vendors and wedding planners. This is our way to show thanks. This is our day to have fun.”

There were five races on the schedule, including the first race — the St. Patrick’s Day footrace. Gus Dahl beat out four other jockeys in the footrace that covered an eighth of a mile.

The stakes were high. The winner received a bottle of Woodford Reserve and a case of Guinness Stout.