Monthly Archives: October 2018

Doc Cebu, Optimus Prime, Capture Co-Features Saturday At Great Meadow’s Gold Cup Card

The following appeared on National Steeplechase Association’s website and was written by Don Clippinger.

Doc Cebu and jockey Hadden Frost played cat and mouse with Le Chevalier for the first three miles of Saturday’s International Gold Cup before decisively ending the game and drawing away to a 5 1/4-length victory in the National Steeplechase Association’s richest fall timber race.

The victory, worth $45,000 to last year’s timber champion, propelled the eight-year-old Hard Spun gelding into the lead for this year’s timber title with only one weekend of timber racing remaining on the 2018 schedule.

Now owned by Charles Fenwick Jr., Michael Hankin, and Charles Noell, Doc Cebu had secured last year’s title with a victory in the International Gold Cup at Virginia’s Great Meadow Race Course. Trained by Jack Fisher, he won that edition by 11 lengths, and on a cloudy, cool afternoon he proved that soft ground was no impediment as he defended last year’s victory.

Doc Cebu captured his second straight International Gold Cup on October 27th. Photo by Tod Marks.

Irv Naylor’s Super Saturday, third for much of the 3 1/2-mile race, overtook Le Chevalier in Great Meadow’s stretch and took second money, 4 1/2 lengths clear of Le Chevalier. Favored at 6-5, Doc Cebu paid $4.40 to win after running the distance in 7:30.90.

Frost broke Doc Cebu sharply and put him on the lead, with Michael A. Smith’s Le Chevalier right behind him. After a quarter-mile, leading jockey Jack Doyle sensed Frost was choking down the pace and moved Le Chevalier to the lead, while Frost kept Doc Cebu on the inside and took the shortest route around Great Meadow.

They held that position for more than two miles until Le Chevalier began to weaken approaching the last two fences, and Darren Nagle went to the whip to urge Super Saturday forward. Approaching the last fence, Doc Cebu took command, drew clear, and carefully jumped the last fence.

Frost brought him home under a hand ride, while Super Saturday gradually overtook and passed Le Chevalier for the place. The win raised Doc Cebu’s 2018 earnings to $102,000 and moved him ahead of Maryland Hunt Cup and Grand National winner Senior Senator, who has $90,000 in the bank.

Fenwick, who acquired Doc Cebu off the flat in a two-horse deal for $12,000, said he had expected a tussle from Le Chevalier, winner of Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup for trainer Julie Gomena on Oct. 13, the same day Doc Cebu won the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup for the second straight year.

“It was a classic timber race,” said Fenwick, the sport’s leading timber jockey in the 1970s and 1980s.

Optimus Prime airs in the Ferguson Memorial

Rosbrian Farm’s Optimus Prime, a Grade 1 winner in his first U.S. start, overwhelmed his opponents in Saturday’s $75,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2), the International Gold Cup’s featured hurdle stakes.

Optimus Prime opens up in deep stretch in Saturday’s “Zeke” Ferguson Steeplechase Stakes.

Jockey Ross Geraghty had Optimus Prime in prime position and just off the early pace set by  Personal Start and then Sempre Medici before bursting away from them over the final fences and drawing away to an 18-length victory as the even-money favorite.

The win, coupled with two victories at the Aiken Fall Steeplechase, moved Ricky Hendriks to a two-race advantage over Fisher in the trainer standings.

He admitted that he had some concern over the soft ground and consulted with jockey Noel Fehily, who had recommended the purchase of the French-bred six-year-old. “He told me not to worry. This horse handled every kind of ground in Ireland,” Hendriks said.

After his purchase in May, Hendriks and assistant trainer Eve Ledyard had Optimus Prime on a fast track to get him ready for Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) on Aug. 23. Their work paid off when Geraghty rode him to a 1 1/4-length victory. He subsequently was third to stablemate Zanjabeel in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Sept. 20.

Ross Geraghty leads Optimus Prime back to the winners circle after winning the “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial.

Geraghty rode Optimus Prime with confidence in the Ferguson, keeping him on the inside while first Personal Start and then Sempre Medici set the pace. Geraghty, the leading jockey by purse earnings this year, moved his hands ever so slightly, and Optimus Prime roared away from his competition.

Under a mild hand rise, Optimus Prime was well clear before the final fence, jumped the last with care, and steadily drew away. Naylor’s Sempre Medici, ridden by Nagle, easily held second, 16 lengths clear of Edith Dixon’s Schoodic.

Optimus Prime raised his U.S. earnings to $167,500 after running the Ferguson’s 2 1/8 miles in 4:13.40. He paid $4 for a $2 win ticket.

Nagle had two winners on the International Gold Cup program, with Wits End Stable’s Katnap in the Steeplethon Stakes and with Naylor’s Elucidation in an allowance hurdle, to move within one victory of Doyle, who won the afternoon’s opener, a Sport of Kings maiden hurdle, aboard Merriebelle Stable’s Renown.

Jump Ship Favored In $35,000 Old Dominion Turf Championship Saturday At Great Meadow

The annual International Gold Cup card is slated for Saturday October 27th at Great Meadow and for the first time ever, wagering will be available on the entire combined steeplechase/flat program via and at the four Virginia Bets Off Track Betting Centers. Betting has been available on site at Great Meadow for a number of years now. Post time for the eight race card in The Plains, Virginia is 12 Noon.

Member’s Hill is a popular spot on Gold Cup Day.

Five steeplechase events will be contested first including co-headliners — the $75,000 International Gold Cup and $75,000 “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial. A trio of flat races will finish things out starting with a 13-horse maiden special weight race at 1 1/2 miles. Virginia-bred Gio Lemon is 8-1 early in that race. The three-year-old Gio Ponto gelding is trained by Neil Morris and will be ridden by Kieran Norris. Gio Lemon was bred by the William Backer Revocable Estate.

Complete St., 8-1 early at Great Meadow Saturday, wins the 2015 Brookemeade Stakes at Laurel. Photo by Jim McCue.

Final race on the card is the $35,000 Old Dominion Turf Championship, a Virginia-bred allowance set at 1 1/4 miles. Morning line favorite is the Althea Richards-bred Jump Ship, who was third in this year’s Hansel Stakes and fifth in the Bert Allen Stakes. Both were held at Laurel and both were taken off the turf due to soggy conditions. The 6 year old Jump Start gelding is trained by Lilith Boucher, who also entered Complete St. in the race.

Accountable is shown in the winners circle after capturing the 2017 Old Dominion Turf Championship.

The next two early favorites are Talk Less and Officer’s Oath. The former is a 4-year-old Blame gelding bred by Mrs. C. Oliver Iselin while the latter is a 5-year-old Luftikos gelding bred by Daybreak Stables and trained by Jimmy Day. Talk Less won an allowance race at Mahoning Valley earlier this year and has finished “in the money” in 8 of 14 starts. Officer’s Oath lost by a nose in this same Great Meadow allowance on the spring Gold Cup card and was fifth in the same event last October.

The gazebo on Member’s Hill is a popular spot to wager traces at Great Meadow.

Also in the field are Complete St. (Mede Cahaba Stable & Stud, LLC), Accountable (Lady Olivia at Northcliff, LLC), Willisville (Mr. & Mrs. Bertram Firestone) and Envious Bid (Belinda Whitson). The first three in this group are past winners of the allowance event. Compete St. won in October, 2015;  Accountable prevailed last October and Willisville was best in May, 2016.

More details are available at General admission tickets can be purchased at the entrance on Saturday. A crowd of 35,000 is expected and the races are held rain or shine.



Virginia-Bred Boldor Wins Career Debut October 25th At Keeneland

The following appeared in the Thoroughbred Daily News October 26th. Boldor is a Virginia-bred that made his career bow October 25th at Keeneland. He was bred by Carlos Moore and Jill Moore and is trained by Steve Asmussen. Boldor is by Munnings, out of Senate Caucus by Siphon.

Boldor (Munnings) played second fiddle pari-mutuelly to fellow first-starter Super Steed (Super Saver), but the $700,000 OBS April graduate managed to hold off his better-backed rival to post a very impressive debut success and become a “Thoroughbred Daily News (TDN) Rising Star”.

Boldor is a TDN “Rising Star” based off hkis tight win in a maiden special weight race October 25th at Keeneland. Photo by Coady Photography.

Drawn gate two, the burly bay colt–the 4.40-1 third choice-jumped well and made the running while pressed to his outside into the turn as the quarter was up in :22.69. In the meantime, Super Steed, off at 2.10-1 from a morning line of 9-2, took off at the half-mile marker and sustained a run on the bend to be within striking distance at the quarter pole. Boldor was still going well, but had left the rail open enough to allow Gabriel Saez to take a chance with Super Steed and the battle was joined. The latter raced on his incorrect lead from the threesixteenths to the eighth pole while shoulder to shoulder with his foe, but Boldor did slightly the better of the two late and was home narrowly in front. Each covered their final two furlongs in a very strong :24.01.

A $100,000 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga yearling purchase, Boldor breezed an eighth of a mile in :10 flat with a giant gallop-out at OBS and his hammer price was tied for sixth-highest of the sale while ranking as the priciest of 23 juveniles sold for his sire in 2018. The winner hails from the family of GI Belmont S. and GI Travers S. hero Summer Bird (Birdstone). His third dam Ruby Slippers (Nijinsky II) produced champion sprinter Rubiano (Fappiano) and Tap Your Heels (Unbridled), the dam of leading sire Tapit. Boldor is kin to a yearling colt by Tonalist and Senate Caucus was covered by Maclean’s Music in 2018

Virginia-Certified Horse Follow The Dog Captures $101,000 Maryland Million Nursery Stakes

Follow The Dog because the latest Virginia Certified horse to collect multiple bonus checks courtesy of a pair of recent victories at Laurel Park. The two-year-old Maryland-bred colt connected in a $40,000 maiden special weight race September 14th, then captured the $101,000 Maryland Million Nursery Stakes this past weekend.

Prior to that first win, Follow The Dog finished second in his career bow on August 12th and again actually in that September 14th maiden race. Passcode, winner of that second race,  interfered with Follow The Dog early on and was disqualified and placed second instead. As a result, Follow The Dog got bumped up a notch to win and bagged a $6,000 Certified bonus as well.

“For his third lifetime race, we chose a two year old allowance race at Parx just to get him some experience against other winners,” said owner David Wright of Waldorf Racing Stables, LLC. “We thought a race would be better than breezing and the fact that the race was going to be at our home track made sense.  He ran fourth and got some dirt in his face and some more experience.  That set us up for the Nursery,” added Wright.

Follow The Dog wins the Maryland Million Nursery Stakes October 20th. Photo by Jim McCue.

Follow The Dog faced eight other horses in the six furlong Nursery stakes test October 20th at Maryland’s annual showcase event. The Bandbox colt prevailed by 3 1/4 lengths in 1:01.14 and earned Wright a maximum $10,000 Certified bonus as well. The winner was ridden Julian Pimentel and trained by Marya Montoya. Follow The Dog, out of the Cozzene mare, Two’s Cozy, and has bankrolled $98,320 now from a four-pack of starts.

Wright was a believer in the Virginia Certified Residency program before he even got his first bonus award. “I live and race in the Mid-Atlantic,” he said.  “Both Maryland and Pennsylvania have good state-bred programs that provide owners with enhanced purses.  When I heard about the Virginia-Certified program, I wanted to participate.  When you put the Virginia certification on a Maryland or Pennsylvania-bred horse, the total purse opportunity is very attractive for an owner.”

The process to acquire a horse and find a qualifying farm from that point on was pretty straightforward. “I contacted Debbie Easter and she guided me to the list of certifying farms on the VTA website,” said Wright. “I ran some of the names on that list by several mid-Atlantic horse people for recommendations.  I called Woodberry Payne (Ingleside Farm in Charlottesville) and he said he had room and could help me out.  When I learned that he also had a bloodstock business, I asked him to help me find a horse at the 2017 Timonium yearling sale.  That horse turned out to be Follow the Dog.”

Three weeks after Wright bought the horse, Follow The Dog’s half-brother, Clever Mind, won the Maryland Million Nursery. “That was a great update for my horse,” he noted. “As the months went by and Woodberry worked with the horse, he told me he might be early and I got the sense that my colt might make it to this year’s Nursery and have a shot at replicating Clever Mind’s success. I was at Laurel Park for the race and feel very blessed that my horse did what he did and won. It was really special.”

Wright credits the connections involved for his initial success. “It wouldn’t have happened without the breeder, David Wade, to plan the horse.  And full credit has to go to Woodberry, for picking the horse out and then breaking him, and to Marya for getting him to the races and bringing him along to win the Nursery.  I am really lucky to be able to work with good, serious horse people”.

Optimus Prime Heads Ferguson Stakes Field Saturday At Great Meadow

The following piece was written by Don Clippinger and appeared at Wagering will be available on Saturday’s combined steeplechase and flat card at Great Meadow itself (both manned teller stations and self bet terminals available), at the four Virginia Bets OTBs and nationally via

Rosbrian Farm’s Optimus Prime, a Grade 1 winner and Grade 1-placed in his two American starts, heads the field for Saturday’s $75,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2), the featured hurdle race of the 35th annual International Gold Cup.

First post time is noon for the eight-race program featuring flat, hurdle, and timber races, including the $75,000 International Gold Cup over timber at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains, Va.

Pari-mutuel wagering will be available on all races and will be available through the popular Xpressbet advance-deposit wagering platform. Wagering on the card also will be conducted in Australia.

Tornado Watch, second in the Far Hills Races’ Grand National (Gr. 1) was entered Monday for the 2 1/8-mile Ferguson but was subsequently withdrawn by owner-trainer Emmet Mullins.

Trained by Ricky Hendriks, Optimus Prime opened his American career with a victory in Saratoga Race Course’s New York Turf Writers Handicap (Gr. 1) on Aug. 23. The six-year-old French-bred subsequently finished third in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) behind stablemate Zanjabeel on Sept. 20.

Balance The Budget won the 2017 “Zeke” Ferguson at Great Meadow.

Ross Geraghty, currently atop the jockey standings by purse earnings, has the mount on Optimus Prime.

Another 2018 Grade 1 winner, Mark W. Buyck’s Show Court, will be ridden by Michael Mitchell, who was in the saddle for his victory in Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on July 30. Trained by Arch Kingsley Jr., Show Court finished fourth in the New York Turf Writers and fell in the Lonesome Glory.

Jack Fisher, who is in a head-to-head battle with Hendriks for the trainer title, entered Edith Dixon’s Schoodic and Woodslane Farm’s Overwhelming for the Ferguson. Schoodic, who won over the Great Meadow course in the 2017 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2), finished fifth in the Lonesome Glory and will be ridden by Willie McCarthy.

Sean McDermott rides Overwhelming, who finished fifth in the New York Turf Writers.

The Plains-based trainer Richard Valentine will saddle Magalen O. Bryant’s Personal Start, who sparkled at Great Meadow in winning this spring’s Semmes by eight lengths. He most recently finished seventh in the Lonesome Glory. Barry Foley will ride.

Prominent owner Irv Naylor will be represented by Sempre Medici, who had two fifth-place finishes in the spring, in the Semmes Memorial and the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Trainer Cyril Murphy named Darren Nagle to ride.

Jack Doyle, currently leading the jockey standings by wins, will be aboard Robert A. Kinsley’s No Wunder, who finished fourth in the William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes for trainer Elizabeth Voss on Sept. 20.

Here is the field for the $75,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2). The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.

Overwhelming. 2010 b. g., Hard Spun—Oh What a Windfall, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Woodslane Farm. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Phipps Stable (Ky.) 2018 NSA record: 4-1-0-1, $41,000. Finished third in Saratoga’s 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), then was fifth in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Returned to the races after missing 2017 season and won Tryon Block House allowance hurdle before sixth in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial ratings handicap. Finished fifth in Saratoga’s 2016 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Won Steeplechase at Callaway’s 2015 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle and Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. (123)

Show Court (Ire). 2009 b. g., Vinnie Roe—Sparking Gem, by Revoque. Owner: Mark W. Buyck Jr. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Grange Stud (Ire). 2018 record: 4-1-0-0, $118,250. 2017 NSA record: 5-2-1-0, $112,000. Won Saratoga’s 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) by a length, then was fourth in New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) and fell in Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Finished sixth in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1).  Won 2017 Carolina Cup by seven lengths. (133)

Personal Start. 2011 dk. b. or br. g., Jump Start—Personal Doreen, by Personal Flag. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Barry Foley. Breeder: Magalen O. Bryant (Ky.) 2018 record: 4-2-0-0, $98,750. 2017 record: 6-1-1-2, $46,750. Finished fourth in Saratoga’s 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), then was seventh in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Won Virginia Gold Cup’s 2018 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) by eight lengths after victory in Carolina Cup novice stakes. Won 2017 International Gold Cup allowance hurdle by eight lengths. (130)

Optimus Prime (Fr). 2012 b. g., Deportivo—Diluvienne, by Kaldoun. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Haras de Plasence (Fr). 2018 NSA record: 2-1-0-1, $120,000. In his U.S. debut, won Saratoga Race Course’s 2018 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1), then was third in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). In final overseas start, finished fourth in Pertemps Swindon Hurdle Handicap at Haydock in May. Began 2018 with an allowance steeplechase win and then was second at 25-to-1 in €115,000 Ryanair Novice Steeplechase at Ireland’s Punchestown Racecourse in April. Previously trained by Dan Skelton. (148)

No Wunder (GB). 2011 b. g., Rock of Gibraltar (Ire)—Iwunder, by King’s Best. Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Breeder: Executors of the late J. Ellis (GB). 2018 NSA record: 5-0-2-0, $42,500. 2017 NSA record: 8-2-1-1, $67,150. Finished fourth in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. Finished close second in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes after similar close second in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial ratings handicap. Opened 2018 campaign with second in Carolina Cup for novices, then was fifth in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Drew away impressively to win 2017 Saratoga handicap after good second in similar race. Finished seventh in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. (126)

Sempre Medici (Fr). 2010 b. g., Medicean—Sambala, by Danehill Dancer. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeders: Myriam Bollack, Noel Forgeard, and E.A.R.L. du Haras de Pierrepont (Fr). 2018 record: 3-0-0-0, $11,000. 2017 NSA record: No starts. Finished fifth in 2018 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) and David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2). Tired and was pulled up in 2018 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2), his first U.S. start. Competed at top level in England and Ireland for trainer Willie Mullins before being imported. Female-line descendant of foundation mare Best in Show, by Traffic Judge. (137)

Schoodic. 2010 b. g., Tiznow—Aunt Henny, by Hennessy. Owner: Edith R. Dixon. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Edith R. Dixon (Ky.) 2018 record: 4-0-1-1, $28,300. 2017 record: 5-1-0-0, $50,750. Finished fifth in Belmont Park’s 2018 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Just missed when second by a neck in 2018 Iroquois Steeplechase ratings handicap. Opened 2018 campaign with closing third in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1), then was ninth in Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Won 2017 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) at Virginia Gold Cup, then was a dull fifth in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3), a race he won in 2016. (130)

Doc Cebu Goes For Title In International Gold Cup

The following piece was written by Don Clippinger and appeared at Wagering will be available on Saturday’s combined steeplechase and flat card at Great Meadow itself (both manned teller stations and self bet terminals available), at the four Virginia Bets OTBs and nationally via

In pursuit of consecutive timber championships, Doc Cebu will face four opponents on Saturday when he attempts a second straight victory in the $75,000 International Gold Cup, the featured timber race of the 35th annual International Gold Cup meet at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains, Va.

The 80th International Gold Cup will be complemented by the $75,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial, a Grade 2 hurdle stakes and the $40,000 Steeplethon on an eight-race program offering $370,000 in purses.

First post time is noon, and pari-mutuel wagering will be offered on all races. For the first time, the International Gold Cup program will be available on the popular Xpressbet wagering platform.

Doc Cebu captured the 2017 International Gold Cup with rider Hadden Frost.

Owned by Charles Fenwick, Michael Hankin, and Charles Noell, Doc Cebu sealed his 2017 timber championship with an 11-length romp in the International Gold Cup. This year’s edition of the 3 1/2-mile race is a must-win proposition for the eight-year-old Hard Spun gelding.

He already has won three timber races this year—the Willowdale Steeplechase, the Legacy Chase at Shawan Downs, and most recently the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup—but he needs the International Gold Cup’s $45,000 first-place purse to overtake timber leader Senior Senator, who earned $90,000 in eight days with victories in the Grand National and Maryland Hunt Cup.

Trainer Jack Fisher named Hadden Frost for a return ride on Doc Cebu, whose 2018 earnings total $57,000.

While Doc Cebu will be an overwhelming favorite, he will face some formidable competitors, three of whom started in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup on Oct. 13.

Michael A. Smith’s Le Chevalier, trained by Julie Gomena, won the National Sporting Library by 4 1/2 lengths after second-place finishes in the Virginia Gold Cup and the Middleburg Hunt Cup. Jack Doyle, currently atop the jockey standings, has the mount.

Irv Naylor’s Super Saturday won the Middleburg Hunt Cup, a race in which Doc Cebu finished third. Trained by Kathy Neilson, Super Saturday finished fifth in the Virginia Fall race and will be ridden by Gerard Galligan.

Grand Manan won the 2016 International Gold Cup October 22nd at Great Meadow. Photo by Tod Marks, from NSA website

Kiplin Hall’s Rodriguez finished third in last year’s International Gold Cup and was sixth in both the Legacy Chase and National Sporting Library. Trainer Willie Dowling named Mark Beecher to ride.

Frank A. Bonsal’s Stand Down, who sustained his first career defeat when third in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup, will try to get back on the winning track. The six-year-old won his first two starts in the spring for trainer Joseph Davies.

Here is the field for the International Gold Cup in post-position order.

Stand Down (Ire). 2012 b. g., Yeats (Ire)—Quadrennial, by Un Desperado. Owner: Frank Bonsal Jr. Trainer: Joseph G. Davies. Jockey: Open. Breeder: Mrs. E. Costelloe (Ire). 2018 record: 3-2-0-1, $21,200. Sustained first career defeat when third in Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. Won first two career starts by open lengths, beginning with 2018 Grand National timber allowance and then Willowdale allowance timber.

Super Saturday. 2009 gr. or ro. g., Any Given Saturday—Lady Aloma, by Cozzene. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Walton Breeders (Ky.) 2018 record: 4-1-0-1, $31,100. 2017 record: 6-0-1-1, $13,400. 2016 record: 5-0-1-0, $4,550. Finished fifth in 2018 National Sporting Library & Museum Cup. Won 2018 Middleburg Hunt Cup, then was third in the Virginia Gold Cup and fourth in Radnor Hunt Cup. Finished second in 2017 New Jersey Hunt Cup and third in Steeplechase at Callaway timber allowance.

Rodriguez (Ire). 2007 dk. b. or br. g., High Chaparral (Ire)—Sofia Aurora, by Chief Honcho. Owner: Kiplin Hall. Trainer: William Dowling. Jockey: Mark Beecher. Breeder: Michael G. Daly (Ire). 2018 record: 2-0-0-0, $1,950. 2017 record: 5-1-0-2, $27,000. 2016 record: 3-1-1-0, $12,700. Finished sixth in Shawan Downs’ 2018 Brown Advisory Legacy Chase and National Sporting Library & Museum Cup at Virginia Fall. Won Shawan’s 2017 Brown Advisory Legacy Chase, then was fourth in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library and Museum Cup and third in International Gold Cup.

Le Chevalier. 2009 g. or ro. g., Broken Vow—Orellana, by With Approval. Owner: Michael A. Smith. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Haras du Mezeray (Ky.) 2018 record: 3-1-2-0, $47,400. 2017 record: 1-0-0-1, $3,000. 2016 record: 5-2-1-0, $49,250. Won 2018 National Sporting Library & Museum Cup after second in Virginia Gold Cup and Middleburg Hunt Cup. Finished third in the 2017 My Lady’s Manor. Won the 2016 New Jersey Hunt Cup by 11 lengths.

2017 International Gold Cup winner Doc Cebu goes for his second straight Gold Cup win October 27th. Photo by Tod Marks.

Doc Cebu. 2010 b. g., Hard Spun—Berga, by Jade Hunter. Owners: Charles C. Fenwick Jr., Michael Hankin, and Charles Noell. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Hadden Frost. Breeder: Graceville Breeding (Ky.) 2018 record: 4-3-0-1, $57,000. 2017 record: 5-4-1-0, $96,600. 2016 record: 2-2-0-0, $21,000. Timber champion, 2017. Won Shawan Downs’ 2018 Brown Advisory Legacy Chase by 3 1/2 lengths and scored a second victory in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup by seven lengths. Won Willowdale Steeplechase for a second straight year in 2018 after third in Middleburg Hunt Cup. Clinched 2017 timber championship with 11-length victory in International Gold Cup after 11 1/4-length score in Genesee Valley Hunt Cup.

Wagering On The Menu At Steeplechase Meets; Gold Cup Up Next At Great Meadow Oct. 27

The following was written by Don Clippinger and appeared in Thoroughbred Daily News. Fans can bet at the Gold Cup in The Plains, Virginia on October 27th and also at the four Virginia Bets OTBs — in Richmond, Henrico, Chesapeake and Collinsville.

While betting has not been a major component of jump racing for nearly a half-century, steeplechase meets over the next two weekends will offer a trifecta of large crowds, pari-mutuel wagering, and high-definition video coverage.

Kicking off the jump-racing Octoberfest will be the 98th annual Far Hills Races in central New Jersey, where $850,000 in purses will be on the line, including the $450,000 GI Grand National, the richest steeplechase race in North America, on Saturday.

A week later on Oct. 27, the action swings to Virginia for the International Gold Cup in the Washington metropolitan area. The 35th annual International Gold Cup will offer close to $400,000 in purses over a mixed program of hurdle, timber, and flat races.

Both meets are extremely popular in their respective markets and draw crowds of up to 40,000 each.

Both tellers and self bet terminals are available at the Members Hill Gazebo at Great Meadow.

In partnership with Monmouth Park, Far Hills will make its first foray into pari-mutuel wagering, while the International Gold Cup launched wagering on its races in 2013 under the supervision of the Virginia Racing Commission. Similarly, the New Jersey Racing Commission will oversee the Far Hills races, which are being conducted under Monmouth Park’s pari-mutuel license.

The International Gold Cup signal this year will be carried worldwide under a contract with XpressBet.

“The exposure is fantastic,” said Dr. William H. Allison, the longtime co-chairman of the International Gold Cup with Dr. Al Griffin. “It’s hundreds of thousands of people, if not millions. It’s the greatest thing for jump racing.”

Dr. Griffin said the International Gold Cup signal also will be picked up in Australia.

Dr. Allison noted that the benefit is not only for steeplechase racing. The wagering exposure supports all of Thoroughbred racing and especially Virginia racing, where the International Gold Cup and the Virginia Gold Cup in the spring have been the principal live racing venues since the closing of Colonial Downs in 2014. The track located in the Richmond, Va., area is scheduled to reopen next year under new ownership.

Doc Cebu won the 2017 International Gold Cup with rider Hadden Frost.

“Now and into the future, the Virginia Gold Cup and the International Gold Cup will occupy an important role in Virginia’s Thoroughbred industry,” Dr. Allison said. “We are so grateful for the support that we’ve received from the Virginia HBPA, the Virginia Equine Alliance, and especially the Virginia horsemen in the years that Colonial has been closed.”

Guy J. Torsilieri, Far Hills’ chairman, said the advent of pari-mutuel wagering is intended to provide the meet’s thousands of fans with another on-site amenity and also to promote American Thoroughbred racing around the world.

The Far Hills meet has attracted significant international participation over the past decade, and this year no fewer than six horses based in England or Ireland will be shipping in for the racing program.

“All the good things are coming together this year,” Torsilieri said. “We are becoming a target for overseas trainers in the early fall. Bettors in Ireland, England, and other overseas markets will be able to watch and wager just as American fans will be able to bet as part of Monmouth’s well-developed wagering platform.”

Two Far Hills races, the Grand National and the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, will be a part of the New York Racing Association’s Cross Country Pick 4 with two Belmont Park races.

“We want the world to see American steeplechasing at Far Hills and the International Gold Cup, and we want the world the racing opportunities we provide,” said Torsilieri, who also serves as president of the National Steeplechase Association.

He expressed appreciation to those who brought about pari-mutuel wagering for Far Hills. “This was a long, sustained effort. We are especially grateful to the horsemen and management at Monmouth who made this possible. We had three races at Monmouth this summer, and we appreciate their support.”

“We’re also grateful to the New York Racing Association and their horsemen for supporting steeplechase racing at Saratoga Race Course and Belmont Park. We look forward to being a part of NYRA’s pari-mutuel menu,” Torsilieri said.

The National Steeplechase Association inaugurated high-definition video for all of its race meets beginning this fall. Live video of the Far Hills and International Gold Cup races will be streamed live on the meets’ respective websites.

West Virginia-Bred & Virginia Certified Burnin Ring O Fire Wins First Three Career Starts

West Virginia-bred Burnin Ring O Fire, a two-year-old Virginia Certified horse, won his third straight race this past Saturday (October 13th) in a $75,000 stakes at Charles Town. After kicking off his career with a three length win August 10th in a $40,000 maiden special weight race for Virginia-bred, sired and certified horses at Laurel, owner/breeder Ray Pennington’s gelding moved on to Charles Town where he has captured back-to-back stakes by identical one-half length margins.

Burnin Ring O Fire edged Blushing Owen September 22nd in the Henry Mercer Memorial. Photo by Coady Photography.

He first tackled the 4 1/2 furlong, $50,000 Henry Mercer Memorial Stakes September 22nd. After exiting the turn six lengths behind in fifth, Burnin Ring O Fire came on strong in the stretch and defeated Blushing Owen in :52.65. He was sent off at 5-1 in the field of ten and paid $12.80 to win.

Burnin Ring O Fire is shown at Charles Town in the Henry Mercer Memorial. Photo by Coady Photography.

Pennington’s undefeated son of Limehouse faced another field of ten in the October 13th West Virginia Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Breeders’ Classic Stakes which was contested at 6 1/2 furlongs. After settling into second after the start, he passed frontrunning Midday Man before the half and maintained a tight cushion until he crossed in 1:20.05. The winner, no longer a surprise to the betting public, paid $4.60. ​He is trained by Ollie Figgins III, was ridden by J.D. Acosta in all three victories and is out of the E Dubai mare, Nashi.

Burnin Ring O Fire beat Midday Man in the Vincent Moscarelli Memorial Breeders Classic October 13th. Phoot by Coady Photography.

Burnin Ring O Fire spent his six month residency at Ashland’s Eagle Point Farm. His owner received a $7,500 bonus for the first stakes win and $8,437 for the second.  To become Virginia-Certified, horses must spend at least six consecutive months at a registered Virginia farm or training center prior to the end of their 2-year-old year. They are then eligible for a 25 percent purse bonus for a win in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, West Virginia, or Maryland. Owners can double up on incentive programs: a horse can be born in Maryland and qualify as a “Maryland-bred” for example, then start training in Virginia to become “Virginia-Certified.”

Burnin Ring O Fire connections gather kin the winners circle September 22nd at Charles Town. Photo by Coady Photography.

For specific program details and a list of Virginia-Certified farms, visit

With National Aspirations, Colonial Zeroes In On 2019 Dates

By T. D. Thornton; this article appeared in the Thoroughbred Daily News on October 8th

When Colonial Downs reopens for 15 days of live Thoroughbred racing in 2019 for the first time in six years, its race meet will occupy a new slot on the calendar different from the June/July schedule that had been the norm prior to closure.

Exactly when is currently being negotiated. But as the track’s new owner, Revolutionary Racing, attempts to carve out a niche on the highly competitive mid-Atlantic circuit, Colonial intends to fully leverage its two most valuable assets in an attempt to become a regional–maybe even national–impact player: A nine-furlong, 180-foot-wide jewel of a turf course that can accommodate numerous rail placements and races each day, plus a purse structure that will be bolstered for the first time by revenue from historical horse racing (HHR) gaming machines.

“One scenario we’re looking at is filling the gap between Laurel, Timonium and back to Laurel,” John Marshall, Colonial’s senior vice president and general manager, told TDN in a Monday phone interview. Such an August dates placement would take advantage of the geographic lull of turf racing that annually occurs when neighboring Maryland shifts to its dirt-only fairgrounds bullring for a brief meet.

“A second scenario that we’ve examined very closely is potentially opening in late September, after Kentucky Downs, Monmouth Park, and the Meadowlands all-turf meet,” Marshall explained. “Racing into October, we could be the second-highest purse level nationally in that spot, second to only Keeneland for those 15 days.

“The other thing that that time slot does for us is it makes a natural spot for the migration of horses from the Northeast heading to Gulfstream and Tampa for the winter. We’ve got geography in our favor [for outfits] to stop in and run for some great purses and do some training and stabling before heading south,” Marshall said.

Exact purse levels are also still under negotiation, Marshall said. He added that Colonial will no longer host an autumn Standardbred meet like the previous operator did, which puts fall dates in play for Thoroughbreds.

“For 2019, we know we’re going to run 15 live race dates,” Marshall said. “For 2020, we’re looking at 30 live race dates. We have not projected beyond that. As we examine both options one and two, we certainly need our horsemen and the racing commission to be on board, and we’re looking to cooperate with as many racetracks as possible.”

But cooperation doesn’t always come easily in the mid-Atlantic, where competition for entries is already fierce, in part because the region is the most densely clustered area in the country for Thoroughbred racetracks.

“We’re fully open to cooperate with all of the constituents in the industry. We’re a very cooperative and collaborative group,” Marshall said. “Where we run into difficulty is where we look to cooperate with one [track], we impose upon another. So there’s really no silver bullet that maximizes cooperation with all racetracks. But our doors are open [to hear ideas from] all the racetracks in the mid-Atlantic and maybe even beyond.”

Mark Hubbard, a spokesperson for the track, said Colonial just received word Monday that regulations approved last week by the Virginia Racing Commission for 3,000 HHR machines at the track and its statewide off-track-betting (OTB) network were okayed by the governor and the attorney general, meaning the opening for simulcasting and HHR gaming at Colonial is on schedule for next April.

Marshall said that when his transition team first arrived at Colonial in July, they were “pleasantly surprised” at how little the infrastructure had deteriorated since the track’s last live racing season in 2013.

“Everything was well-maintained over the past four years. The previous owner invested in maintaining the conditions of the property,” Marshall said.

Marshall spoke in particularly glowing terms about Colonial’s calling card–its massive and lush grass course that in previous years handled the burden of close to 90% of the races carded at the track.

“The turf course was race-ready the day we moved in, and we’ve maintained that condition,” Marshall said. “It’s starving for horses to be on it, and the stable area could accept horses at any moment.”

In May, the Colonial turf course underwent its annual controlled burn to remove invasive weeds and provide nutrients for new growth.

“It’s part of the maintenance program,” Marshall said. “Since then it’s been maintained so well that we haven’t had any weed intrusion. That was the main reason [the burns] were done, to bring back as much of the Bermuda turf as we could, because we did have some intrusion on the outside and inside [of the course]. This turf course has got to be in the best condition it’s ever been, today.”

The grandstand and clubhouse are a blur of daily construction as part of an overall facelift and image change, which will feature an industrial-modern look. In what is quite possibly a racing industry first, an all-female design firm, Within Interior Design, Inc., of Norfolk, Virginia, was hired to renovate the 21-year-old facility

“This is not going to be your father’s racetrack,” Hubbard said. “Horse racing is very much a centerpiece of this project, but we’re presenting it in a way that no one’s ever seen before.”

Marshall explained further: “We understand that our main demographic for HHR business is going to be predominantly females 55-years-plus. The challenge that we posed to Within was to consider this job as designing a sports bar for women. What would it look like? So we are going to lean toward feminine design in a lot of ways.

“Traditionally, we all know racetracks to be attractions to men, 60-plus, with cigar smoke and mutuel tickets on the floor,” Marshall continued. “In this case, you’ll walk through the main entrance and be greeted with a lot of equine imagery, modern art, modern décor. It’s going to be high-energy, fast-paced. You’re going to see very modern finishes, a lot of metals and irons, [accented by] pastel colors, different textures. And you’re going to feel as though you’re not in a racetrack, but you’ve got the option to go out on the apron and enjoy racing as we all know it.”

Colonial has also set aside 300 acres on the property for special-event use that is already being booked into the spring and summer of 2019. Food and beverages will have local ties where possible, Marshall added, featuring wines from New Kent County and a dozen Virginia-area craft beers on tap.

“We’re going to appeal to entertainment and service from a mainstream perspective, and not necessarily focus on the traditional horseplayer-only” mindset, Marshall summed up.