The Virginia Gold Cup will present a strong lineup of races on Saturday, with two timber champions and an Eclipse Award winner among the 117 horses remaining eligible for the 10 races at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains.
In-person attendance will be limited to necessary personnel, and the races will be livestreamed beginning at 12:15 p.m. at http://nsa.network.video/. First post time is 12:30 p.m.
Andi’amu and Doc Cebu, timber champions who finished first and second, respectively, in the Middleburg Hunt Cup on June 13, again will test each other and five other opponents in the $40,000 Virginia Gold Cup at four miles.
Ballybristol Farm’s Andi’amu is defending his 2019 Virginia Gold Cup victory, a brilliant three-length score in which he set all the pace. Thomas Garner, who rode the French-bred to a geared-down 3¾-length win in the Middleburg Hunt Cup, again will ride for trainer Leslie Young.
Doc Cebu, owned by Charles Fenwick Jr., Mike Hankin, and Charles Noell, is one of four entrants from the barn of champion trainer Jack Fisher. In his only start last year, the Hard Spun gelding finished fourth in the Virginia Gold Cup, his first venture at four miles. Michael Mitchell, the reigning co-champion jockey, has a return call aboard Doc Cebu, the timber champion in 2017 and 2018.
Doc Cebu prevailed in the 2018 International Gold Cup at Great Meadow. Photo by Tod Marks.
The third-, fourth-, and fifth-place finishers from the Middleburg race will again challenge the two champions. Hudson River Farms’ Codrington College made a late move to finish third, a nose ahead of Irv Naylor’s Super Saturday.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard gave Darren Nagle a return call aboard Codrington College, and Gerard Galligan again will ride Super Saturday for trainer Kathy Neilson.
Finishing fifth after pressing Andi’amu’s early pace was Schoodic, the only horse ever to finish ahead of Andi’amu over timber, in last fall’s International Gold Cup. Andi’amu finished second, 2½ lengths behind the Grade 2 hurdle winner.
Trainer Fisher named Graham Watters to ride Schoodic, who is owned by his mother, Dolly Fisher. Willie McCarthy, who rode Schoodic in the Middleburg Hunt Cup, is recovering from injuries sustained in a subsequent race.
Fisher also will saddle Bruton Street-US’s Lemony Bay and Storm Team, owned by Sheila Williams and Northwoods Stable. Lemony Bay was pulled up in Middleburg’s steeplethon over mixed obstacles and will be ridden by Aaron Davis. Sean McDermott returns aboard Storm Team, a maiden timber winner at Middleburg.
Andi’Amu, who will compete in the June 27 Virginia Gold Cup, was best in the 2020 Middleburg Hunt Cup.
Also on the program is the $35,000 David Semmes Memorial Stakes, which attracted Bruton Street’s 2017 Eclipse Award winner Scorpiancer. McDermott was named to ride the Irish-bred, who would be making his first start since finishing second in Far Hills’ Grand National (Gr. 1) last October.
Fisher also named McDermott aboard Bruton Street’s Snap Decision, the reigning novice champion after his victories in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes and Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle.
Another Fisher contender is Riverdee Stable’s Gibralfaro, winner of the David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial Stakes (Gr. 2) over the Great Meadow course on the International Gold Cup program. Mitchell has the mount.
Also coming out of the Ferguson is Stonelea Stables’ Balance the Budget, who was sixth. Trainer Julie Gomena named Ross McDermott to ride.
Sheppard will send out Hudson River Farms’ Iranistan, the 2018 novice champion who finished fourth in Middleburg Spring’s Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3) after setting the early pace. Nagle will ride.
Schoodic is one of 7 participants in the ’20 Gold Cup. Photo by Douglas Lees.
Here is the field for the Virginia Gold Cup in post-position order. All starters will carry 165 pounds.
Doc Cebu. 2010 b. g., Hard Spun—Berga, by Jade Hunter. Owners: Charles C. Fenwick Jr., Michael Hankin, and Charles Noell. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Graceville Breeding (Ky.) 2020 record: 1-0-1-0, $3,600. 2019 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2018 record: 5-4-0-1, $102,000. 2017 record: 5-4-1-0, $96,600. Timber champion, 2017, 2018. Stayed well to finish second in 2020 Middleburg Hunt Cup. Finished fourth in 2019 Virginia Gold Cup after losing rider late in My Lady’s Manor. Won International Gold Cup for a second time to lock up 2018 timber title. Also 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.
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.) 2020 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,000. 2019 record: 3-0-1-3, $29,900. 2018 record: 6-1-2-1, $51,800. 2017 record: 6-0-1-1, $13,400. Finished fourth in 2020 Middleburg Hunt Cup. Finished second in Virginia Fall’s 2019 National Sporting Library and Museum Cup, then was third in International Gold Cup and Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. Finished third in 2019 Virginia Gold Cup, then fell in Radnor Hunt Cup. Finished fifth in Middleburg Hunt Cup. Finished second in 2018 International Gold Cup and Pennsylvania Hunt Cup after fifth in National Sporting Library & Museum Cup. Won 2018 Middleburg Hunt Cup, then was third in the Virginia Gold Cup and fourth in Radnor Hunt Cup.
Lemony Bay (GB). 2009 b. g., Overbury—Lemon’s Mill, by Roberto. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Aaron Davis. Breeder: G. R. Waters (GB). 2020 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2019 record: 3-0-1-1, $13,050. 2017 record: 2-1-1-0, $36,000. 2016 record: 5-3-2-0, $38,400. Pulled up in Middleburg Spring’s 2020 Alfred M. Hunt steeplethon. Finished third in 2019 My Lady’s Manor, then was second in Willowdale Steeplechase and fourth in Radnor Hunt Cup. Won 2017 My Lady’s Manor, then was game second in Virginia Gold Cup. Closed 2016 season with victory in Steeplechase at Callaway timber allowance race. Won Virginia Gold Cup’s Steeplethon and Middleburg Spring’s Alfred M. Hunt after second in division of John Rush Streett maiden timber at 2016 My Lady’s Manor.
Schoodic. 2010 b. g., Tiznow—Aunt Henny, by Hennessy. Owner: Dolly Fisher. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Graham Watters. Breeder: Edith R. Dixon (Ky.) 2020 record: 1-0-0-0, $800. 2019 record: 6-5-1-0, $109,500. 2018 record: 6-0-1-2, $35,800. Pressed early pace in 2020 Middleburg Hunt Cup and finished fifth. Won the 2019 International Gold Cup and Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. Opened his timber career in 2019 with three straight victories, including 16¾-length romp in Iroquois Steeplechase’s Mason Houghland Memorial and an open-length win in Fair Hill novice timber, then was second in Shawan Downs’ Brown Advisory Legacy Chase. Was a Grade 2 winner and Grade 1-placed over hurdles.
Andi’amu (Fr). 2010 b. g., Walk In The Park—Sainte Parfaite, by Septieme Ciel. Owner: Ballybristol Farm. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Thomas Garner. Breeder: Therese Bouche (Fr). 2020 record: 1-1-0-0, $12,000. 2019 record: 4-3-1-0, $115,500. 2018 record: 2-2-0-0, $36,000. Timber champion, 2019. Set all the pace in 2020 Middleburg Hunt Cup and won easily. Easily won Virginia Fall’s 2019 National Sporting Library and Museum Cup, then was second in International Gold Cup. Won the 2019 Virginia Gold Cup by three lengths and Middleburg Hunt Cup by 5¾ lengths. Won Middleburg Spring’s 2018 Alfred M. Hunt steeplethon, then added Virginia Gold Cup’s Steeplethon Stakes. Finished second in 2017 Noel Laing Handicap and third in 2017 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1).
Codrington College (Ire). 2010 ch. g., Duke of Marmalade—A.P. Easy, by A.P. Indy. Owner: Hudson River Farms. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Laundry Cottage Stud Farm (Ire). 2020 record: 1-0-0-1, $2,000. 2019 record: 4-1-0-2, $22,500. 2018 record: 1-1-0-0, $9,000. Closed ground to finish third in 2020 Middleburg Hunt Cup. Won Shawan Downs’ 2019 Brown Advisory Legacy Chase, then was fourth in International Gold Cup. Finished third in Grand National’s 2019 Western Run Plate and in Iroquois Steeplechase’s Mason Houghland Memorial. Won his timber debut at 2018 Queen’s Cup.
Storm Team. 2014 ch. g., Candy Ride (Arg)—Stormy Dude, by Stormy Atlantic. Owner: Sheila J. Williams and Northwoods Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Colts Neck Stables (Ky.). 2020 record: 1-1-0-0, $6,000. 2019 record: 8-2-1-2, $104,700. Made transition to timber and won 2020 Middleburg Spring maiden timber by 5¾ lengths after setting all the pace. Closed out a busy 2019 season with victory in Steeplechase at Callaway’s Aflac Supreme Hurdle for novices.
Here in post-position order are the eight remaining entrants for the David Semmes Memorial, a 2 1/8-mile race over National Fences. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are at the end of their profiles.
Winner Massagot (Fr). 2011 ch. g., Muhaymin—Winnor (Fr), by Lesotho. Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeders: Christian Ballet and Jean Luc Terrieres (Fr). 2019 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2018 NSA record: 2-1-1-0, $33,000. Pulled up in 2019 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Won Montpelier’s 2018 Noel Laing Handicap impressively after second in Far Hills ratings handicap, his U.S. debut. Won lower-level handicap at England’s Fontwell Park before export. (133)
Snap Decision. 2014 b. g., Hard Spun—Salute, by Unbridled. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Phipps Stable (Ky.) 2019 record: 6-4-2-0, $176,400. Novice champion, 2019. Won Belmont Park’s 2019 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes as odds-on favorite, then won Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle impressively. Drew away impressively to win Saratoga allowance hurdle by 38½ lengths. Secured maiden win at Monmouth Park in July 2019 after second-place finishes at Queen’s Cup and Iroquois. Previously trained by Shug McGaughey and had two wins on the flat. (145)
Balance the Budget. 2009 ch. g., Bellamy Road—Every Day Is Good, by El Corredor. Owner: Stonelea Stable. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Liberation Farm & Oratis (Ky.). 2019 record: 1-0-0-0, $2,250. 2018 record: 2-1-0-1, $97,500. Finished sixth in David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2) in his only 2019 start. Won 2018 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) and finished third in Virginia Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2). Won International Gold Cup’s 2017 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2) by nine lengths after setting all the pace. (136)
Chief Justice (GB). 2015 b. g., Acclamation—Freedom Pass, by Gulch. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Graham Watters. Breeder: G. B. Partnership (GB). 2019 NSA record: 3-0-0-1, $17,500. Finished third in Belmont Park’s 2019 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, then was fourth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. In U.S. debut for former trainer Gordon Elliott, closed well to be fourth in Iroquois Steeplechase’s 2019 Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes. Won his send-off race, a quality handicap race at Aintree on Grand National day. Tested at Cheltenham in Fred Winter Handicap and finished in midpack. Won three straight races as a three-year-old in 2018. (130)
Redicean (GB). 2014 b. g., Medicean (GB)—Red Halo, by Galileo (Ire). Owner: Sharon E. Sheppard. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Thomas Garner. Breeder: Cheveley Park Stud (GB). 2019 NSA record: 3-1-0-0, $67,500. Finished fifth in 2019 Grand National (Gr. 1). Graduated from novice ranks with victory in Saratoga’s 2019 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes, his first U.S. start after respectable career in England, then was sixth in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Departed with 11th in Scottish Champion Hurdle in April. (140)
Gibralfaro. (Ire). 2012 b. g., Dalakhani (Ire)—Ronda, by Bluebird. Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Sarl Darpat France (Ire). 2019 record: 5-2-1-0, $144,000. 2018 record: 5-1-3-0, $77,250. Won International Gold Cup’s 2019 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2). Finished second in Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) after fourth in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Opened 2019 with victory in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase for novices, then was sixth in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Finished second in Far Hills’ 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division and Aflac Supreme Hurdle. (138)
Scorpiancer (Ire). 2009 b. g., Scorpion (Ire)—Janebailey, By Silver Patriarch. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Mary O’Connor (Ire). 2019 record: 4-1-1-0, $177,000. 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: 2-2-0-0, $150,000. Eclipse Award winner 2017. Won Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) for a second time in 2019 before fifth in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) and second in Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J. Missed 2018 season and was pulled up in his first 2019 start, the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Claimed 2017 Eclipse Award with victories in Calvin Houghland Iroquois and Temple Gwathmey. Won Belmont Park’s 2016 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). (154)
Iranistan. 2014 dk. b. or br. g., Einstein (Brz)—Miss Vindictive, by Stephen Got Even. Owner: Hudson River Stables. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Crossed Sabres Farm (Ky.) 2020 record: 1-0-0-0, $6,500. 2019 record: 2-0-0-0, $3,750. 2018 NSA record: 5-3-1-1, $145,000. Champion novice 2018. Finished fourth in 2020 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3). In first 2019 start, pulled up in Grand National (Gr. 1) after leading early, then finished fourth in Aflac Supreme Hurdle for novices. Finished game second in Saratoga’s 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), then was third in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), while favored in both. Won 2018 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices by six lengths. (126)