Gil Johnston’s Amnicalola powered through Fair Hill’s stretch on Saturday and drew away to a 2¾-length victory in the $50,000 Iris Coggins Memorial, the featured race of the 85th annual Fair Hill Spring Races.
The Fields Stable’s Sarah Joyce finished second, 9¾ lengths ahead of owner-trainer Bethany Baumgardner’s Mavourneen. The Fields Stable’s Dawn Wall, upset winner of last year’s Coggins Memorial, finished fourth in a field of mares shortened by four scratches.
One of them was Joseph Fowler’s Down Royal, who was withdrawn after his jockey, Bernie Dalton, was injured in a fall in the first race. He was taken by ambulance to Christiana Medical Center with unspecified injuries.
With a field of four, Amnicalola went off at 2.40-to-1 and paid $6.80 to win. Fair Hill did not conduct show wagering. Her victory gave jockey Michael Mitchell and trainer Jack Fisher back-to-back victories after Rather Be Racing’s Our Legend won a $30,000 allowance hurdle for four-year-olds.
Mavourneen, with Baumgardner in the saddle, went immediately to the lead with Sarah Joyce shadowing her pace. Amnicalola held third, a few lengths off the leaders, and Dawn Wall was at the back of the field throughout the race.
Jack Doyle asked Sarah Joyce to run after the third from last fence, and the Irish-bred mare bid for the lead on the turn. She was in front two from home, and Mitchell conceded that he had some concerns at that point. “I was a little worried that Sarah Joyce got away on the lead,” he said.
But Amnicalola fired through the stretch and gained the lead near the furlong marker. Sarah Joyce put up a brief struggle but was unable to stay with the winner. Amnicalola, a maiden winner in April who was pulled up in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Margaret Currey Henley on May 11, ran the Coggins Memorial’s 2¼ miles in 4:18 2/5 on a firm turf course.
Trainer Jack Fisher’s wondrous spring season continued Friday when he won both sanctioned races on the Fair Hill Spring Races’ twilight program.
The four-race card, two training flat races that do not count in the standings and the two timber races, kicked off Fair Hill’s 85th annual racing season. No betting was conducted on the Friday card, and Saturday’s program will have pari-mutuel wagering on all six races. First post time is 1 p.m.
Fisher, the reigning champion trainer, collected his 20th win of the season when Dolly Fisher’s Schoodic cruised through the stretch under Michael Mitchell and won the featured $25,000 novice timber race by 6¼ lengths over Charles Fenwick’s Royal Ruse. Black and Blue Stables’ Fletched finished third in a field of 12.
A Grade 2 winner over hurdles for his breeder and former owner, Edith Dixon, Schoodic now races in the silks of the trainer’s mother and is undefeated over timber. He won his maiden timber start at My Lady’s Manor on April 13 and crushed his opponents in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Mason Houghland Memorial on May 11.
Mitchell settled the Tiznow gelding in midfield for much of the three-mile race. Fletched and Renegade River set the pace much of the way before Mitchell tipped out his mount in the stretch and cruised to victory.
Schoodic ran the race for novices, horses in their first seasons of timber racing, in 5:56 4/5 on firm turf.
Two races earlier, Fisher went to the winner’s circle with Woodslane Farm’s Overwhelming, another Grade 1-placed member of Fisher’s stable who has successfully transitioned to timber racing. Brett Owings rode Overwhelming, who won by a length over Beidermeier. Monstaleur finished third in a field of seven.
Overwhelming ran the three miles in 6:09 4/5.
To celebrate its 85th anniversary running, the Fair Hill Spring Races will offer a two-day doubleheader, with a twilight racing program on Friday and its traditional pari-mutuel program of Saturday featuring the $50,000 Iris Coggins Memorial and the $40,000 Valentine Memorial.
First post time for the Friday program is 4 p.m., and admission is free. The six-race Saturday program kicks off at 1 p.m. Pari-mutuel wagering will be offered only on Saturday.
Friday’s card will feature two timber races, highlighted by a bulging field for a $25,000 race for novices, or horses new to timber racing. Heading a field of 13 for the three-mile race is Dolly Fisher’s Schoodic, a graded stakes winner over hurdles who already has won his two timber starts.
The nine-year-old Tiznow gelding won the John Rush Streett timber maiden at My Lady’s Manor on April 13 and then dominated the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Mason Houghland Memorial by 16¾ lengths on May 11. Leading trainer Jack Fisher, the owner’s son, tapped top jockey Michael Mitchell to ride.
Fisher also will saddle Hyggelig Haven’s Political Theatre, winner of the other maiden division, named in memory of Racing Hall of Fame trainer Tom Voss. Hadden Frost has the mount.
Trainer Leslie Young will send out Fat Chance Farm’s Flaming Sword for his second sanctioned career start. In his initial U.S. race, the five-year-old Irish-bred won a Grand National timber allowance by 6¾ lengths. Aaron Sinnott will ride.
Nancy A. Reed’s homebred Awesome Adrian was awesome in winning a Willowdale Steeplechase maiden timber race by 17¼ lengths on May 12 after finishing third to Schoodic in the John Rush Streett division. Eddie Keating will ride for trainer Kathy Neilson.
Hurdle horses take the stage on Saturday, and The Fields Stable will have the horses to beat in the Iris Coggins Memorial for fillies and mares.
The Monday Report for May 20, featuring Pured It’s victory in the Radnor Hunt Cup and Michael Mitchell’s three-win day, is now available here. The web address is: https://www.nationalsteeplechase.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/MR5-20-19w.pdf
Pured It, coming back on six days’ rest, set all the pace in Saturday’s $35,000 Radnor Hunt Cup and gamely held off a determined challenge from Le Chevalier to win by a neck. Two’s Company finished third, 7 ¼ lengths behind Le Chevalier, and Lemony Bay was fourth.
Owned by Sycamore Run Farm and Move-Up Stables, Pured It had finished third in the Willowdale Steeplechase on the previous Sunday after following a slow pace in very wet edition of the race over mixed obstacles.
Trainer Kathy Neilson and jockey Eddie Keating adopted a different approach for the 3¼-mile Radnor Hunt Cup, the signature race of the 89th annual Radnor Hunt Races in Malvern, Pa. The Radnor Hunt Cup was climatically the polar opposite of Willowdale, with sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 70s.
Pured It, regarded as one of the longshots in a field of seven timber specialists, jumped out to an early, uncontested lead over Lemony Bay and Two’s Company, both owned by Bruton Street-US, while Michael A. Smith’s Le Chevalier was in his usual position at the back of the field.
They changed positions very little until Kieran Norris asked Virginia Gold Cup runner-up Le Chevalier for a bit of run on the last trip down the backstretch. The 10-year-old responded readily and was in striking range nearing the final fence.
Le Chevalier bid for the lead on the outside after the last, but Pured It was up to the challenge. Keating kept the 10-year-old Purim gelding moving forward, and they held off Le Chevalier to secure the victory.
Two’s Company, the 2016 timber champion, ran evenly to best Lemony Bay by 3 ¼ lengths.
Pured It, who had been disqualified from an allowance victory at the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup last November, ran the Radnor Hunt Cup’s distance in 7:13 1/5 on turf rated as good.
Two stakes winners owned by the The Fields Stable, Dawn Wall and Sarah Joyce, are among a crowded list of 16 nominees to the $50,000 Iris Ann Coggins Memorial, the hurdle feature of the 85th annual Fair Hill Spring Races. The anniversary edition of the popular Northern Maryland meet will be a two-day affair on