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Back in the Saddle 

Today, the American Gold Cup returns to its Northeast Ohio roots after a 36-year absence. Horse-show buffs credit a refurbished Cleveland Metroparks polo field for the homecoming. Last year, the field's grassy surface was gutted and replaced with a mix of sand and shredded fabric. "It's one of the softest footings for the horses," says Spokeswoman Gail Tobin. "It's also quiet. If you're riding in there, you can barely hear the other horses."

The Gold Cup's return to the area today finds last year's champ, Patty Stovel, defending her title against dozens of rival riders. Each competitor maneuvers a horse over a series of gates; the fastest pockets $100,000 and a chance to compete at the World Cup in Las Vegas next April.

Billed as the country's oldest horse-jumping competition, the Gold Cup debuted in Cleveland in 1970. It relocated to Florida the following year and eventually found a home outside Philadelphia. It moved again last fall when the Metroparks' new field was installed. Says organizer Mike Morrissey: "We're moving from one historic grounds to another, as we bring it back to where it began."
Sun., Sept. 17, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

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