Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard never can be underestimated. At age 77, he is leading the National Steeplechase Association’s trainer rankings going into the final weeks of the spring season, and he has a formidable, five-barreled team for the Iroquois Steeplechase’s $50,000 Margaret Currey Henley for fillies and mares on Saturday. Topping his
Armata Stables’ Cornhusker loves Percy Warner Park, home of the Iroquois Steeplechase. The British-bred gelding, now 11, has won the Mason Houghland Memorial three times, most recently last year. Trainer Alicia Murphy has entered him for a shot at a fourth win on Saturday in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s featured $50,000 timber stakes. First post time
With a bold move three fences out, Stewart Strawbridge’s Kings Apollo charged to the lead in Sunday’s $40,000 Winterthur Bowl, flew over the final fences, and easily held off Upland Partners’ Mystic Strike. Blair Wyatt’s Witor, who had tracked the early pace of Class Indian, finished third, and last year’s second-place finisher, Armata Stables’ Cornhusker,
Virginia ruled at Saturday’s 93rd edition of the $100,000 Virginia Gold Cup when Virginia-bred Zanclus led from the early stages of the four-mile timber classic and won by 3 3/4 lengths for his Virginia owner-breeder and Virginia-based trainer with Virginia resident Kieran Norris in the saddle.
Just for good measure, Virginia-owned Personal Start surged to victory in the afternoon’s featured hurdle race, the $75,000 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) for Virginia-based trainer Richard Valentine.
Nothing was fishy about Zanclus’ front-running victory in the Virginia Gold Cup even though he is named for a rare genus of fish commonly known as the Moorish idol. The name is a nod to owner-breeder Sara E. Collette’s husband, Bruce, a marine zoologist, and she has two jumping dolphins on her silks.
But Zanclus was a tribute to the breeding operation of Sara Collette, a resident of Casanova, Va. She bred multiple generations on the dam’s side, and she also bred his sire, Xenodon.
Zanclus’ Virginia Gold Cup was the fourth for trainer Neil Morris, who previously won with Lord Kenneth in 2003 and Miles Ahead in 2005 and 2006.
The 40th annual Winterthur Races on Sunday will be live-streamed. First post time is 2 p.m. Below is the link, and it also will be available on the race page at winterthur.org. http://6abc.com/23387/
Irv Naylor’s Ebanour will attempt to win the $100,000 Virginia Gold Cup for a third straight year when he meets a challenging field in the four-mile timber classic that headlines Saturday’s 93rd edition of the ever-popular race meet.
The Virginia Gold Cup program offers nearly $400,000 in purses in its eight races. Also on the card are the $75,000 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) over hurdles, the $50,000 Secretariat Stakes on the flat, and the $40,000 Steeplethon Stakes over mixed obstacles.
The Virginia Gold Cup annually attracts the largest crowd on the National Steeplechase Association circuit. First post time at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains is 12:30 p.m.
Trained by Cyril Murphy, Ebanour will be making his first sanctioned start of the year in the storied Virginia Gold Cup, a strategy that served him well last year. The 11-year-old Irish-bred will be ridden by 2017 champion jockey Darren Nagle, who was in the irons for Ebanour’s second straight victory in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup last November.
Naylor also will be represented by Super Saturday, the Middleburg Hunt Cup victor trained by Kathy Neilson. Gerard Galligan was named to ride.
Also coming out of the Middleburg Hunt Cup on April 21 are Michael A. Smith’s Le Chevalier, the second finisher, and Armata Stables’ Grand Manan, who was pulled up. Trained by Julie Gomena in Virginia, Le Chevalier will be ridden by Jack Doyle, who currently leads the jockey standings.
Grand Manan, winner of the 2016 International Gold Cup, was pulled up on soft turf conditions in last year’s Virginia Gold Cup. He usually sets the early pace in his races, and trainer Billy Meister named Willie McCarthy, the 2014 champion jockey, to ride.
A Virginia-bred threat in the Gold Cup will be Sara E. Collette’s homebred Zanclus, who blazed to a front-running, 25 1/4-length victory in the My Lady’s Manor on April 14. Kieran Norris has the mount for trainer Neil Morris.