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Gillian Johnston's Mr. Hot Stuff, left, rallied toward a nose victory in last year's Grand National (Gr. 1) over Modem, center, who was a nose ahead of All the Way Jose. (Tod Marks photo)

Lonesome Glory Award winner Mr. Hot Stuff and the rival who finished two noses behind him in last year’s Grand National (Gr. 1), All the Way Jose, will clash again Saturday in the $75,000 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2), the featured race of the 98th annual Middleburg Spring Races at Glenwood Park.

The Temple Gwathmey, elevated to Grade 2 status this year, will anchor a seven-race program that also includes the $30,000 Middleburg Hunt Cup over timber. First post time at the Northern Virginia course is 1 p.m.

Gillian Johnston’s Mr. Hot Stuff, trained by Jack Fisher, claimed the Lonesome Glory Award as 2017’s leading steeplechase earner when he surged to a nose victory in the $400,000 Grand National at the Far Hills Races in October. The 12-year-old veteran will carry the Temple Gwathmey’s 158-pound highweight.

Third in the 2009 Santa Anita Derby (Gr. 1) and unplaced in the Kentucky Derby (Gr. 1) and Belmont Stakes (Gr. 1), Mr. Hot Stuff made a successful transition to jump racing and won the 2013 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and the 2015 Temple Gwathmey. He was third last year at Glenwood. Hadden Frost will be in the saddle.

Trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way ran gamely in the Grand National and finished third, less than a foot behind Mr. Hot Stuff. In his preceding start, All the Way Jose had won Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1).
He carries 156 pounds in the handicap, and his regular jockey, Darren Nagle, will ride.

Also at 156 pounds is Irv Naylor’s Sempre Medici, a promising hurdler in Ireland and England before being imported after his 2016 season. He missed last season, and trainer Cyril Murphy named Barry Foley to ride the French-bred in his U.S. debut.

Naylor, the National Steeplechase Association’s champion owner in six of the last eight years, also will be represented by Jamarjo, trained by Leslie Young. The consistent Irish-bred won last year’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) at the Radnor Hunt Races and was fourth in the Grand National. Kieran Norris has the riding assignment on Jamarjo, who carries 148 pounds.

Zanjabeel, a five-year-old who is one of the sport’s emerging stars, will go after his first graded stakes win in the 2 1/2-mile Temple Gwathmey. He was purchased by Rosbrian Farm and Wendy and Ben Griswold after winning Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Two weeks later, he won the Aflac Supreme Hurdle, also for novices, at the Steeplechase at Callaway.

He started the year with a second in the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) at the Carolina Cup on March 31. Trainer Ricky Hendriks named Ross Geraghty to ride Zanjabeel, who carries 150 pounds.

Fisher, the sport’s leading trainer for the last six years, also will saddle Edith Dixon’s Schoodic and Sonny Via’s Hinterland, who finished third and fourth, respectively, in the Colonial Cup. Willie McCarthy will be aboard Schoodic, and Sean McDermott rides Hinterland.

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SOME FACTS ABOUT JUMP RACING IN NORTH AMERICA

$6,140,000

NSA PURSES IN 2016

498 HORSES

RAN IN 2016

+1,000,000

SPECTATORS EACH YEAR

12 STATES

HOST STEEPLECHASE RACES
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