This is Horse Racing
Ten races? Yes 10. Saturday’s International Gold Cup card at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va., literally has something for everyone – hurdle, timber and flat races for real money, pari-mutuel wagering, tailgating, people-watching, shopping, walking and a great view. Post time is noon (so they can fit in all those races) so get there early and enjoy the show.
The featured $90,000 International Gold Cup attracted just five horses but that’s kind of what happens when there are five open timber races over the season’s first five weeks, plus two races over the more varied timber courses at Virginia Fall and Great Meadow. Two’s Company seeks his third straight and fifth win of the year, but he’ll have to tangle with upstart Grand Manan and veteran Cornhusker. Fall Gold Cup specialist Grinding Speed was a scratch. Hopefully we get to see him again soon.
Maryland Million, Empire Showcase, a strong Saturday card at Keeneland; who says all the preps and the actual Breeders’ Cup World Championships pull all the air out of the balloon. Another big day on tap and we’ve got the action covered coast-to-coast and around the world in Saturday Special presented by Pin Oak Stud, home of Alternation, Broken Vow and Cowboy Cal.
Drawn up on paper, the ratings hurdle division was meant to give opportunities for horses who didn’t have any – you know the ones – not quite good enough or had graduated from the novice division, horses who couldn’t compete in open stakes, horses owned by owners who didn’t want to risk them in claimers and/or horses who are better in the hurdle division than the timber division.
Jimmy and Emily Day tend to finish each other’s sentences. After 27 years of marriage, it’s natural. Whether it’s about horses, owners, races or kids, one of them starts a thought and the other one finishes it.
After homebred Officer’s Oath won the Gladstone Hurdle at Far Hills, the Days bantered back and forth about the son of Luftikus, owned by Bruce and Edie Smart, who won his second consecutive hurdle race with a front-running score in the $50,000 stakes.
Forget all that “little horse that could” stuff. Get Ready Set Goes can run, it doesn’t matter if she’s part of a one-horse stable, an Ohio-bred, a 4-year-old filly taking on her elders and a rare Kentucky-based steeplechaser. It also doesn’t matter that her owner is also her trainer, van driver, groom and hotwalker.
Paddock judges check equipment for every horse, every race at the major tracks. It’s a simple process, checking off blinkers, tongue tie, etc. It takes seconds.
In steeplechasing, it’s not part of the protocol. Good thing or the paddock judge at Far Hills might still be taking notes for Le Chevalier.
With a gallant victory in the Grand National at Far Hills, America's most important jump race, Irv Naylor's stable star Rawnaq remained unbeaten in three 2016 starts and all but locked up the Eclipse Award as champion jumper. Photographer Tod Marks has the recap of the $350,000 race. Click on the image below to launch slideshow.
While a crisp breeze swept through the mare barn at Sunset Hill in Woodbine, Md., Friday afternoon, Smash And Grab stood quietly on crossties as owner Sabrina Morris finished tacking for their dressage school, making final preparations for their venture to the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover at the Kentucky Horse Park later this month.
Gray three-button suit, white shirt, brown dress shoes, two-tone green tie, hands clasped loosely behind his back, Cyril Murphy could have been a businessman waiting on a train.
And as it turned out, that’s exactly what he was.
Nothing like a Saturday. All the stars come out for British Champions Day. There’s the rematch between Time And Motion and Catch A Glimpse at Keeneland. The return of Theory at Belmont Park. Of course, Far Hills is streaming live, too. Here’s your Saturday Special for October 15. As always presented by our friends at Pin Oak Stud.
And the finale. Still going strong? The New Jersey Hunt Cup caps off the banner day of racing at Far Hills. With a stakes at Middleburg last week and another one at Great Meadow next week, the timber horses are stretched thin, only six wind up here.
Next year, you can bet on it – or so they say. The Far Hills Races went through all the hoops to get pari-mutuel wagering passed at its one-day steeplechase meet every October and the bill was signed into law by Gov. Chris Christie in September – too late to ramp up everything needed for legal betting this year.
So, these selections are all in fun. Hah.
The 3-year-old horses who run over hurdles in the United States are like, well, 3-year-olds. Unpredictable and full of potential. Someday, they’ll be great like champions Zaccio, Lonesome Glory, Warm Spell and Demonstrative. Or someday, they’ll be lost to history like T.V. Gold, Solitary Strike, Wetlands and Jogja.
Nine newcomers tackle Saturday’s $50,000 Gladstone, the sixth race at Far Hills, at 2 1/8 miles. They hail from pretty much everywhere – Trappe Hill Road has never run anywhere, Officer’s Oath won at Shawan Downs, Invocation has already run five times over hurdles, Don’t Make Me Cry makes his 11th start this year.
Rawnaq, here’s your chance. The 9-year-old Irish import, already the leader of his division this year, gets a chance to drive home the point in Saturday’s American Grand National, feature race on the Far Hills Races card. He faces seven rivals in the $350,000 classic at 2 5/8 miles.
Owned by Irv Naylor and trained by Cyril Murphy, the son of Azamour can clinch the Eclipse Award as champion steeplechaser with a win. The race promises to be tactical, and will be a battle of wills over the final mile. It’s the fourth on the day, and the best of the year.
The Appleton at Far Hills has carried many conditions over the years and this year’s version brings together horses rated from 140 to 110. An eclectic group, some with eyes squarely on the $50,000 prize while others are providing days out for their connections.
Four words that make fans of American jump racing pay attention – the Far Hills maiden. It’s not quite the Breeders’ Cup Classic, but is one of the year’s most anticipated races with big purse ($50,000 this year), big stage and big opportunity. Win this, and people pay attention. Past winners include Hall of Famer McDynamo, which ought to be enough to make you pay attention.
This year, a full field of 10 will head to the post (with seven on the also-eligible list) as the second race on the day (1:40 p.m. approximately) at 2 1/8 miles.
The Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills has questions. Will Hardrock Eleven jump straight? Can Castle Hill handle the jump from maidens? Can All That Rules stretch them out? Will Swansea Mile improve in his second start here? Can you draw a line through Ice It’s effort at Belmont Park.
Well, here we go. Light the match. The biggest day on the American steeplechase scene. One Lucky Lady and Get Ready Set Goes clash in the Peapack, the openenr on the stellar seven-race card.
The fog and mist and chill and silence made Pennsylvania feel like England or Ireland, which was appropriate given the reason for standing on a country hillside early on a Thursday morning.
Jimmy Toner knows that winning at Keeneland for longtime owner John Phillips isn’t an absolute requirement. He also knows too well that it is coveted and desirable for the man who heads up the Phillips Racing Partnership and runs the legendary Darby Dan Farm located not far from Keeneland’s back gate.