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One of them was Joseph Fowler’s Down Royal, who was withdrawn after his jockey, Bernie Dalton, was injured in a fall in the first race.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.
In the afternoon’s concluding race, Robert Kinsley’s No Wunder powered to lead two fences from the wire and held off Sonny Via’s Hinterland to win the $40,000 Valentine Memorial. Irv Naylor’s Bobabout finished third in the ratings handicap.
Trained by Elizabeth Voss, No Wunder paid $7 to win after running the 2¼-mile distance in 4:12 flat.