Monarchos and Point Given? Oh sure, they will be there. But first Triple Crown fans will get to see Praise The Prince and Flasher renew their growing rivalry. They took the first two legs of the Steeplechase Triple Crown, and head the early list of hopefulsMonarchos and Point Given? Oh sure, they will be there. But first Triple Crown fans will get to see Praise The Prince and Flasher renew their growing rivalry. They took the first two legs of the Steeplechase Triple Crown, and head the early list of hopefuls
Monarchos and Point Given? Oh sure, they will be there. But first Triple Crown fans will get to see Praise The Prince and Flasher renew their growing rivalry. They took the first two legs of the Steeplechase Triple Crown, and head the early list of hopefuls for the third – the $100,000 added Meadow Brook Stakes – at Belmont Park Thursday, June 7.
Augustin Stable’s Praise The Prince won the series opener at Churchill Downs May 3 with a late run through the stretch for jockey Gus Brown. At Pimlico two weeks later, the New Zealand import nearly won the Joe Aitcheson until Daybreak Stable’s Flasher charged up the rail in the final strides to win by a neck under Chip Miller. The two horses are familiar with each other – in four meetings this year and last, Flasher owns three wins (by a combined half-length).
The only loss came at Churchill, when Flasher finished a dismal seventh (28 lengths behind his rival). After Pimlico, the effort was explainable.
"He didn’t eat or drink for two days," trainer Jimmy Day said. "He has a tendency not to eat when we ship, and we should have shipped a day earlier than we did. It didn’t work out right,but there will be no more mistakes like that."
Based in northern Virginia, Day patched his horse together after the trip to Kentucky and aimed for Pimlico. "He was in good shape after we got him home and I was awfully confident in him" the trainer said. "knew my horse could beat (Praise The Prince) if he ran his race."
Praise The Prince’s trainer Sanna Neilson, based in Pennsylvania, expected the good effort from Flasher, but won’t back down from the challenge.
"Flasher’s beaten him three times now, so I can’t make too many excuses for my horse," she said. "But maybe he didn’t see Flasher at Pimlico. He went by War Talk, and then Flasher came back on the inside after my horse got in front."
Nominations to the 2 1/2-mile race close May 28, but the list (with trainer) includes: Bien Allure (Jonathan Sheppard), Devil’s Egg (Tom Voss), Dynability (Jack Fisher), Flasher (Jimmy Day), Outstanding (Voss), Northern Thinking (Fisher), Park Debut (Chuck Lawrence), Pelagos (Bruce Miller), Praise The Prince (Sanna Neilson), Tres Touche (Ricky Hendriks), War Talk (Sheppard).
STILL RACING IN LOUISVILLE
Long after Derby Fever has subsided, the Oxmoor Steeplechase comes to Louisville, Ky. on Sunday. The five-race card attracted a mixed bag of horses to a variety of races. The feature, a $20,000 allowance (NW2) looks competitive Ð and also boasts a few big names. Stonerside Stable’s one-horse steeplechase division (Snoqualmie) takes on Outstanding, a son of Lord At War who makes his first start since winning a maiden hurdle last May, Walkin N’ Memphis and the mare Feeling So Pretty. The latter once sold at a Kentucky sheriff’s sale, and has won twice on the flat and broke her steeplechase maiden May 12 at Nashville for owner/trainer Lee McKinney. Feeling So Pretty is also the only female horse to win a steeplechase race this year. In addition to Stonerside, Oxmoor will also host the colors of Will Farish, who starts Indy Fever in a $10,000 maiden hurdle. Jonathan Sheppard trains for both big names. First post at Oxmoor is 1:30 p.m.
FAIR HILL Ð YOU BET
The country’s only steeplechase meet with pari-mutuel wagering, Fair Hill, gets its turn on Memorial Day Monday, May 28 with a nine-race card of races on the flat, over hurdles and over timber. A rite of spring in northeastern Maryland, Fair Hill annually attracts a crowd of 15,000 or more and is a haven for the $2 bettor – total handle usually tops out at about $200,000. Founded by Willie du Pont in 1934, Fair Hill continues to do its jobs of raising money for Union Hospital of Elkton, entertaining steeplechase fans who want to wager and giving horsemen a final stop on the spring calendar.
Monday’s feature, the $30,000 Miles Valentine Memorial is typically wide open, and attracted nine entrants. The 1999 NSA novice champion Muscle Car makes his first start since the 1999 Colonial Cup for trainer Jonathan Sheppard, but faces a tough group including the consistent Aggro Crag, 2001 stakes winner Devil’s Reach, improving French bred Quel Senor and double winner this year Batchwood. The Valentine field (with jockey) in post position order: Quel Senor (Cyril Murphy), Brown Lad (Toby Edwards), Commanders Palace (No Rider), Avanico (David Bentley), Batchwood (Craig Thornton), Devil’s Reach (Robert Massey), Indispensable (Gus Brown), Aggro Crag (Matt McCarron), Muscle Car (Richard Boucher). Also on the card is a $25,000 Sport of Kings maiden that attracted 10 entries including promising newcomers Jean Claude, Brinton Bridge, Loverineveryport and On A Bluff. Foxhunters get a chance to shine in a three-mile timber affair Ð with eight horses and their amateur owner/riders. A novice timber race attracted a full field of 16.
Post time at Fair Hill, at the intersection of Md. routes 273 and 213 north of Elkton and west of Newark, Del. is 1 p.m.
AL SKYWALKER FLIES AGAIN
When former claimer Al Skywalker upset the Bank of America Carolina Cup in March, the word fluke instantly came to mind. But the California-bred proved everybody wrong with his second graded stakes win of 2001. Al Skywalker built a big lead heading into the final turn and held of Darn Tipalarm by a length in the $50,000 National Hunt Cup (Gr. III) at the Radnor Hunt Races May 19 in Malvern, Pa. Trained by Jennifer Majette in North Carolina, Al Skywalker picked up $30,000 for the win and jumped into third on the NSA horse earnings table with $90,000. Irish apprentice Tom Foley was aboard for the win. Also at Radnor, Mimi Voss’ Sam Sullivan picked up his second straight victory in the $25,000 Radnor Hunt Cup timber stakes. Trained in Maryland by Tom Voss, Sam Sullivan crossed the finish line in second behind Bredesen Moe but was moved up when the latter was disqualified for interference. Named after a Civil War soldier, Sam Sullivan improved to 7-for-9 over timber. Roger Horgan was aboard for the victory, one of two on the day for the jockey.
POMPEYO GETS A VACATION
Current earnings leader Pompeyo, who won Keeneland’s $185,000 Royal Chase in his last start, earned a rest according to trainer Sanna Neilson and will bypass the summer season in favor of a fall campaign. The Chilean import, 7-for-11 with $353,280 since converting to steeplechase racing last March, will aim for the $250,000 Breeders’ Cup Steeplechase in October.
The former Neil Drysdale-trainee hasn’t been ridden for 10 days, and will return to light exercise on Neilson’s Pennsylvania farm soon.
The vacation comes for a variety of reasons. First, Pompeyo will get hammered by the handicapper in any of the summer stakes at Colonial Downs or Saratoga. Second, Pompeyo doesn’t care for racetrack training and turf gallops always take a beating from lack of rain. Neilson didn’t mention it, but Pompeyo has also been on a long run of activity – in 2000 he started nine times, starting in March and winding up in December. He opened 2001 with races in late March and early April.
"He’s chilling," said Neilson. "He gets turned out in the morning and comes in in the afternoon before the flies get too bad. He likes about two weeks of nothing, and then he gets a little agitated so we’ll start jogging him a little bit Ð he wants to do something."
NEWS AND NOTES
Jockey Arch Kingsley, the NSA champion in 1997, too himself out of action because of the effects of back-to-back falls on May 5 and May 12. Kingsley, who passed the 100-win plateau for his career last year, broke his ankle in a fall in March and sustained mild concussions at the Virginia Gold Cup and Iroquois meets. "I decided to take the last couple of weeks of the spring season off," said the jockey, who lives in Camden, S.C. "I still have slight headaches, but I feel pretty good. With the time of year and what happened so close together, it made sense."Kingsley, who exercises horses for flat trainer Bill Mott when he’s not riding steeplechase races, expects to return either at Belmont Park June 7 or at Colonial Downs in July . . . The NSA’s summer season will include racing at Saratoga, plus an extended season at Colonial Downs July 4-28. The Virginia track will card two races on July 4, 14, 21 and 28 for a total of eight races and $200,000 in purses. The $50,000 Zeke Ferguson Memorial highlights the schedule on July 14, Virginia Derby day. The Saratoga Open House will be July 22 (three maiden hurdle races), with the regular Saratoga schedule beginning July 25 . . . Last year’s champion trainer Tom Voss reeled in early leader and fellow Marylander Jack Fisher, and leads the NSA standings with nine wins to Fisher’s eight through May 27. Voss, whose 2000 season included top turf horse John’s Call, sports a typically high win percentage Ð having picked up the nine victories with just 27 starters. South Carolina-based Toby Edwards sits third on the list with seven wins, followed by three trainers with six victories apiece. Among the jockeys, 2000 champion Gus Brown and two-time champion Craig Thornton are tied at nine wins each. Five jockeys are tied for third with six scores. Brown’s deep pool of stakes mounts has him far in front of the earnings race with $361,650. Augustin Stable ($282,400) heads the owner list. Pompeyo leads the horse list with $141,525 in two starts. Thor Thors ($45,000) leads Ironfist by $3,000 among the timber horses . . . The NSA’s yearbook American Steeplechasing was recently released, and is packed with information in its 400 pages. The hard-cover book, as close to a media guide as American steeplechasing has, includes a detailed history section and official charts from all 2000 NSA races. E-mail Joe Clancy at email@example.com to request a copy . . . Steeplechase Times and Hunt Cup Productions have produced a 2000 steeplechase year in review video. The 45-minute tape highlights the year’s best moments, and can be purchased for $25 by calling Hunt Cup Productions at (610) 383-9530.