The National Steeplechase Association is soliciting proposals to provide high-definition video services for all of its race meets, with an initial one-year contract period extending from this coming fall through next spring. The video services primarily will serve the stewards at approximately 30 race meets and will provide photo-finish capabilities at those meets. Initial expressions
A year ago, For Goodness Sake won the emotion-laden Iris Ann Coggins Memorial Stakes with injured jockey Paddy Young listed as his trainer.
The Irish-bred mare returns on Saturday as a favorite to score a repeat victory in the $50,000 Iris Ann Coggins Memorial, the featured hurdle race on a jam-packed, nine-race program for the 49th edition of the Fair Hill Races.
Always a popular Memorial Day Weekend attraction in northern Maryland, the Fair Hill Races will have full fields across the board, with pari-mutuel wagering under the supervision of the Maryland Racing Commission on all races. First post time is 1 p.m.
The 2 1/4-mile Coggins Memorial drew a full field of 12 and one also-eligible. The program also will feature a highly competitive edition of the $40,000 Valentine Memorial ratings handicap and two divisions of a Sport of Kings maiden hurdle, each carrying $30,000 purses. In all, Fair Hill purses total $210,000.
Young, now the owner of For Goodness Sake, was seriously injured in a fall at the Radnor Hunt Races a week before last year’s Fair Hill Races, and the five-time champion jockey lay in a hospital with a life-threatening head injury.
In the ensuing year, he has made significant progress in his recovery, and he attended this year’s Radnor event with his wife, Leslie, also a trainer.
For the Coggins Memorial, For Goodness Sake will be ridden by Willie McCarthy, who was in the irons for last year’s 2 3/4-length victory.
The six-year-old Yeats mare enters the Coggins Memorial with strong credentials. In her first start this year, she finished a good third, beaten only a length, in the Margaret Currey Henley Stakes at the Iroquois Steeplechase on May 12.
Young also is the owner-trainer of French-bred Sbarazzina, who is the Coggins’ also-eligible. If she draws into the race, the seven-year-old mare would be making her first U.S. after three career starts in England in 2016.
Trainer Richard Valentine will saddle Check Mark Stables’ Willow U, a seasoned competitor who defeated males in a Virginia Gold Cup allowance hurdle on May 5. Shane Crimin will ride.
Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, currently leading the trainer standings by wins, will send out his Pram and Riverdee Stable’s Wigwam Baby. Pram won the Life’s Illusion Stakes at the Carolina Cup on March 31 and was fifth in the Henley. Darren Nagle, the 2017 champion jockey by wins, has the mount.
Jack Doyle, who currently leads the jockey standings by wins and purses, was named aboard Wigwam Baby, who fell in the Henley.
Ricky Hendriks, who leads the trainer standings by purse earnings, will saddle Eve Ledyard’s Quarla and Rosbrian Farm’s Tay Lane. Michael Mitchell rides Quarla, a maiden winner at the Foxfield Spring Races on April 28, and Ross Geraghty will be aboard Tay Lane, a maiden winner in Ireland last year.
Wendy Hendriks’ Surprising Soul, allowed to rate comfortably a few lengths off the pace, surged to the lead on the final turn of Saturday’s $50,000 National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) and drew away easily through the stretch to a 10 3/4-length victory at the 88th Radnor Hunt Races.
Irv Naylor’s Bobabout, the pacesetter under Darren Nagle, finished second, 8 3/4 lengths clear of Mercoeur, who had followed the leader’s pace in second before Surprising Soul made his winning move. Swansea Mile, never comfortable on turf softened by days of rain, finished fourth.
On an afternoon in eastern Pennsylvania that resembled a morning on the misty gallops at Newmarket, Surprising Soul ran the National Hunt Cup’s 2 3/8 miles in 5:14.40 on wet, soft turf.
The victory was by no means a surprise to trainer Ricky Hendriks, who saddled Surprising Soul and Swansea Mile. “The horse has been training terrific,” said the Pennsylvania-based trainer. “We knew he had a lot of talent.”
Surprising Soul, last spring’s leading novice, scored a major victory in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle in May, but occasional illnesses compromised the rest of his season. He came back with an unsanctioned flat win this spring that set him up for the National Hunt Cup, his first venture outside the novice ranks.
Hendriks’ knew his mother’s Ontario-bred was fresh from the long layoff and the flat start, so he had a very specific instruction for jockey Ross Geraghty. “I was adamant not to put the horse on the lead,” he said. “The instructions were pretty general, but I was emphatic about that.”
A seasoned professional who rides often for Hendriks (they won the following race with Rosbrian Farm’s Cheers for Us), Geraghty placed Surprising Soul on the outside about four lengths off Bobabout, making his first start since last August and only his second U.S. start.
Nagle did he best to nurse Bobabout’s speed over the wet ground and was in command till the climb to the last fence on the right-handed Radnor course. When Geraghty asked Surprising Soul, the six-year-old kicked to the front, jumped the last fence full of run, and had no competition to the finish line.
The National Hunt Cup was the second graded-stakes victory in eight days for Hendriks and Geraghty, who combined forces a week earlier to win the $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) with Zanjabeel, who is owned by Rosbrian and Wendy and Ben Griswold.
Pennsylvania-based trainer Ricky Hendriks is near the top on the 2018 trainer leader board, and he will have a double-barreled opportunity to move up the ladder in the $50,000 National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3), the featured hurdle race of Saturday’s 88th annual Radnor Hunt Races in suburban Philadelphia.
The six-race program, which also includes the $30,000 Radnor Hunt Cup over timber fences, will kick off at 1:30 p.m. at W. Burling Cocks Memorial Race Course in Malvern.
Heading the Hendriks team is Rosbrian Farm’s Swansea Mile, an Irish-bred who collected his first Grade 1 victory with an upset score in last summer’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial at Saratoga Race Course. Sent away at 28.50-1, he won by two lengths under Michael Mitchell.
The eight-year-old began his 2018 campaign with a fifth-place finish in the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) on March 31 and most recently was pulled up in the Virginia Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) on May 5. Mitchell again will be in the saddle.
Ross Geraghty, who rode Hendriks-trained Zanjabeel to victory in last Saturday’s Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), will be aboard Surprising Soul for the 2 3/8-mile National Hunt Cup.
Owned by the trainer’s mother, Wendy Hendriks, Surprising Soul won last spring’s Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices. The Ontario-bred will be making the first start of his six-year-old season.
Pennsylvania-based trainer Leslie Young will saddle Michael A. Smith’s Mercoeur, who finished fourth in the Semmes. The French-bred gelding, now seven, won last fall’s Noel Laing Handicap. Jack Doyle, who currently leads the jockey standings by wins and earnings, has the mount.
Upland Partners’ Mystic Strike, winner of last year’s $30,000 Radnor Hunt Cup, returns to W. Burling Cocks Race Course on Saturday for a shot at a second consecutive victory in the featured timber race of the 88th annual Radnor Hunt Races in suburban Philadelphia. First post time for the six-race program is 1:30 p.m. Also
Doc Cebu took command on the final turn of the $35,000 Willowdale Steeplechase on Sunday, and the reigning timber champion scored his second straight victory in the signature race of the 26th annual race meet in Kennett Square, Pa. Under leaden skies in Pennsylvania’s horse country, Jack Fisher-trained Doc Cebu always was in striking position,