Chasing in Focus
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Gill Johnston's Fantastic Song, trained by Fenneka Bentley and ridden by Sean McDermott, edged Rosbrian Farm's Swansea Mile in the featured optional claiming allowance hurdle at the Steeplechase of Charleston at Stono Ferry, on Saturday. In fact, the winning was spread all around as each of the five races on the card was won by a different trainer, owner, and rider. Other victors included Edition Farm's Zio Elio, a 4-year-old making his first start over jumps for trainer Kate Dalton and jockey Keith Dalton (no relation); KMSN Stable's Fort Collins (Jonathan Sheppard/Gerard Galligan) in the opening maiden claiming hurdle; Buckshot Racing Stables' Longing to Travel (Neil Morris/Kieran Norris) in the conditioned claimer; and In Memory of My Father Stable's Petak Mountain on the flat for trainer Arch Kinglsey. In the latter, jockey Emma Clifton won her first NSA race. Photographer Catherine French has the recap from Hollywood, SC.
Bruton Street-US' 8-year-old son of Scorpion signaled his readiness for a big effort with a win in the Gwathmey at Middleburg last month, and on Saturday ran away by 16 lengths with the Spring's jumbo prize, the $200,000 Grade 1 Iroquois for trainer Jack Fisher and jockey Sean McDermott. McDermott and Fisher also teamed up with rising Bruton Street's Moscato, who captured his second straight, this time defeating an allowance field by nearly 7 lengths. Fisher nabbed a third win on the seven-race Nashville card with Rather Be Racing's Kremlin Keith Dalton) in the Sloan maiden. Other winners on the day include Armata Stables' running machine Cornhusker, in the $50,000 Mason Houghland timber stakes and Maggie Bryant's Plated, in the Ratings Handicap for amateur riders. Two other impressive winners -- and bona fide rising stars -- were Wendy Hendriks' Surprising Sourl (Ricky Hendriks, Ross Geraghty), who made it three in a row with a victory in the $100,000 Marcellus Frost, and The Fields Stables' Sarah Joyce in the filly and mare Margaret Currey Henley Stakes. Tod Marks was on the scene for the recap.
Irv Naylor's timber ace picked up where he left off last fall, following up his Pennsylvania Hunt Cup victory with a win in the historic $100,000 Virginia Gold Cup at rain-soaked Great Meadow in The Plains, Va., for trainer Cyril Murphy and jockey Gus Dahl. Naylor, Murphy, and Dahl teamed up for victory in the other big timber race of the weekend, the Winterthur Bowl in Delaware on Sunday with Top Man Michael. There were other great story lines in Virginia. Owner, trainer, and rider Ben Swope captured the $40,000 Steeplethon with his Gusto At Dawn. Dapper Dan broke his maiden for owner Donna T. Rogers, trainer Neil Morris, and rider Darren Nagle, while Mark Beecher scored his second victory as a trainer with My Afleet, ridden by his lifelong pal Kieran Norris. Norris continues to top the NSA standings with seven wins. The meet also marked a comeback of sorts for Edie Dixon's Schoodic. Schoodic began his jumping career in 2013 with great fanfare, but hadn't won a race in nearly a year. With Paddy Young aboard, Schoodic rediscovered his mojo and surged to victory in the $75,000 David Semmes Memorial Hurdle Stakes (G2) by 2 lengths over Charminster. And in yet another story line, Elizabeth Voss' stakes winning turf star Renown returned to the races and handily won the $50,000 Secretariat Stakes on the flat. Tod Marks has the recap.