Most races for Saturday’s 100th Middleburg Spring Races continued to be oversubscribed and the meet’s traditional features were largely unchanged after scratches as the National Steeplechase Association prepares to open its coronavirus-delayed season.
Middleburg Spring will feature 11 races, and eight of them have also-eligible lists. First post time is 12:30 p.m. at Glenwood Park, and the races will be run without spectators and under strict health and safety safeguards. Broadcasts of the races will be available on the NSA website.
In all, a record 148 horses remained in the entries, with also-eligible lists limited to a maximum of four potential starters. The races offer opportunities for a broad swath of the steeplechase community’s horses in training.
Middleburg’s traditional feature races, the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3) over hurdles and the Middleburg Hunt Cup over timber, each had one scratch. Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Winner Massagot was scratched from the 2½-mile Temple Gwathmey, which features a clash of titans including 2017 Eclipse Award champion Scorpiancer and 2018 Eclipse winner Zanjabeel.
The Middleburg Hunt Cup also spotlights two returning champions, last year’s timber leader Andi’amu and the 2017 and 2018 champion, Doc Cebu. Swansea Mile, a Grade 1 winner over hurdles, was scratched to run in Middleburg Spring’s maiden timber race.
Timber champions Andi’amu and Doc Cebu, emerging timber star Schoodic, and Grade 1 hurdle winner Swansea Mile form half the field for the Middleburg Hunt Cup, the post-and-rail co-feature of the 100th Middleburg Spring Races on Saturday, June 13. The Middleburg Hunt Cup will be a part of an 11-race program at Glenwood Park as
A star-studded field of 10 has been entered for the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3), the centerpiece of an eagerly awaited Middleburg Spring Races on Saturday, June 13, when American Steeplechasing emerges from the coast-to-coast lockdown caused by the new coronavirus.
National Steeplechase Association horsemen responded enthusiastically to the program of 11 races with more than 200 entries, an NSA record and a tribute to the owners and trainers who kept their horses in training through the spring.
Eight of the races have long also-eligible lists of horses who will draw into the race in case of scratches. In all, the Middleburg Spring races offer $200,000 in purse money.
First post time will be 12:30 p.m. for the centennial edition of the Middleburg Spring Races at Glenwood Park. No spectators will be admitted to the Virginia race course, and the races will be broadcast on the NSA’s website.
The $50,000 Temple Gwathmey at 2½ miles over National Fences attracted a field that includes two Eclipse Award winners, another Grade 1 winner, and two novice champions.
Bruton Street-US, the reigning champion owner, will play a strong hand with three prospective starters. Topping the Bruton group is 2017 Eclipse winner Scorpiancer, who won the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) for a second time last year and most recently finished second in the Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills in October.
The National Steeplechase Association’s spring race meets, the Middleburg Spring Races on June 13 and the Virginia Gold Cup on June 27, will be conducted under health and safety best practices mandated by the Virginia Department of Health to control the spread of the new coronavirus and the disease that it causes, COVID-19.
The Department of Health detailed the standards for outdoor racetracks as part of its Phase 1 reopening under the Forward Virginia program. Attendance will be limited to trainers with horses in the races, handlers, jockeys, essential race-meet officials and personnel, veterinarians, and meet physicians.
Owners will not be permitted to attend the races. Video coverage of the races will be provided on race days through the generosity of an NSA member who wishes to remain anonymous.
“We will strictly adhere to the standards set by the Department of Health,” said NSA President Al Griffin Jr., who is co-chair of the Virginia Gold Cup. “As Virginians and Americans, we are committed to controlling the spread of this disease, and we are gratified that we now have the go-ahead to race for the benefit of our horsemen.”
Due to issues related to Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 mandates, the Cheshire Point-to-Point scheduled for June 14 has been canceled. The Cheshire Point-to-Point Committee will consider a fall meet that would include the first running of the National Steeplechase Association-sanctioned Louis Neilson III amateur apprentice timber race, which had been scheduled for June 14. The committee will
Dear NSA constituency,
It seems that every hour brings a need to reassess and re-direct our efforts as it pertains to steeplechase racing in the current pandemic climate. Added to the volatility of our situation, it seems that Social Media can help you and hurt you, often both in the same day. I therefore wanted to bring you up to date as to where we are now and where we hope to go given the severe limitations continuing to be imposed on gatherings of more than 10 people and the variations from state to state.
Last Thursday I had a conference call with the Secretary of Agriculture for the Commonwealth of Virginia, under whose auspices horse racing is conducted. I asked her to comment on a way of going that would severely curtail the number of spectators at Middleburg Spring Races and the Virginia Gold Cup, including no tents, using every other parking space and box, and limiting those spaces to a maximum of 10 people. I was told that even these limitations were unacceptable.
I then proposed the option of running these two meets without spectators and there was agreement on the call that this might be acceptable, depending on the conditions under which this would occur. I was asked to provide detail on the procedures and to submit them after the Governor’s news conference this past Monday afternoon where he outlined his plans for life after June 10. I therefore worked with Bill Gallo and Dave Lermond, the Executive Director of the Virginia Racing Commission to take best practices from the flat tracks and formulate a way of going that would transfer over to our open field model of steeplechasing. We moved The Virginia Gold Cup to June 27th in order to give two weeks between these two race meets.