Michael T. Wharton’s Grinding Speed knows Great Meadow Race Course well, and he will be attempting to recapture some of his former glory when he starts in Saturday’s $60,000 International Gold Cup, the featured timber race on a full program of nine pari-mutuel races. First post time is noon at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va. Grinding Speed won the 2012 edition of the International Gold Cup and last year’s Virginia Gold Cup. Trained by Alicia Murphy, he finished fourth in this year’s Virginia Gold Cup and comes into Saturday’s race from a bad stumble in the Genesee Valley Hunt…
Two veteran stakes winners and a front-end speedster will clash in a talent-packed edition of the $50,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3), the featured hurdle race of Saturday’s 31st annual International Gold Cup meet. First post time is noon at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains, Va., for an action-packed nine-race program that features pari-mutuel wagering. The horse to beat in the 2 1/2-mile Ferguson Memorial will be All Together, a veteran stakes winner owned by Sheila J. Williams and Andre Brewster. Fourth in both the Smithwick and New York Turf Writers, the nine-year-old Danzig gelding returned…
Ann Taylor Rowe’s Mr. Universo, a well-traveled classic winner in his native Brazil, heads a competitive field for the $25,000 Budweiser Holiday Cup, the featured optional claiming allowance hurdle at Saturday’s 23rd annual Aiken Fall Steeplechase. First post time is 1 p.m. at the Aiken, S.C., course. The 10-year-old gelding will be ridden by reigning champion jockey Paddy Young, who was in the saddle for Mr. Universo’s only 2014 start, a victory in a $15,000 claiming hurdle at Shawan Downs in Maryland on Sept. 27. He won his maiden victory over fences at Parx Racing outside Philadelphia in June 2013….
Chasing in Focus
Crown him: Demonstrative stamps himself as steeplechasing’s very best
There's nothing better than a race that leaves no doubt. And on steeplechasing's biggest stage, in the game's most prestigious race, Demonstrative proved he is a worthy successor to recent greats McDynamo and Good Night Shirt. Jacqueline Ohrstrom's 7-year-old captured his third straight Grade 1 by taking the $250,000 Grand National at Moorland Farm in Far Hills, N.J., over reigning champion Divine Fortune, who fired his best shot and finished second. Trained by Richard Valentine and ridden by Robbie Walsh, Demonstrative has now earned more than $800,000 and is a cinch for an Eclipse Award. In other action with championship implications, All The Way Jose won the $100,000 Foxbrook Champion Novice Stakes, Hot Rize came from behind to score in the $50,000 New Jersey Hunt Cup over timber, and Bittersweetheart was awarded victory in the $75,000 Peapack Stakes for fillies and mares when rival Kisser N Run was disqualified for interference at the last. Here's the photo recap from Tod Marks (www.todmarks.photoshelter.com)