Merriefield Farm’s Foyle, the reigning timber champion, heads 13 nominees to Maryland’s historic Grand National, the second jewel of the Free State’s timber triple on Saturday, April 19. Also among the nominees is Lucy Gomena’s Twill Do, a two-time Maryland Hunt Cup winner.
The $30,000 Grand National at 3 1/4 miles traditionally kicks off the program at the Butler course. First post time is 3:15 p.m.
Foyle, who took the 2013 timber title with a late-season surge that included victories in the International Gold Cup and Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, will return to the Grand National course after being placed first in the Benjamin H. Murray Memorial timber allowance after the first two finishers went off-course. Bruce Fenwick trains Foyle.
Twill Do finished fourth in the 2012 Grand National before winning his second Grand National. Last year, Twill Do finished seventh in the Grand National before a fourth in the Hunt Cup.
He is trained by Billy Meister, who also trains And the Eagle Flys, the 2012 Grand National winner who was nominated for a shot at a second victory. And the Eagle Flys was pulled up in last year’s Grand National.
Jack Fisher, who shared last year’s leading timber trainer title with Meister, nominated Arcadia Stable’s Delta Park, who finished a game second to Foyle in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. Delta Park won the 2012 Radnor Hunt Cup and returned to the races last fall.
Another likely contender is Holston Hall’s Hot Rize, who finished a close second in last year’s Radnor Hunt Cup in Malvern, Pa. The 2013 Middleburg Hunt Cup winner finished third in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.
Here are the 13 Grand National nominees:
And the Eagle Flys. 2002 ch. g., Double Honor–Slick Mountain, by Peaks and Valleys. Owner: Mrs. William D. Class Jr. Trainer: William Meister. 2013 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2012 record: 2-1-0-0, $18,000. 2011 record: 2-0-1-0, $14,250. Pulled up in the 2013 Grand National, his only start of the year. Won the 2012 Grand National but fell at the 17th fence of the Maryland Hunt Cup. Finished second in the 2011 Maryland Hunt Cup after a fourth in the Benjamin H. Murray Memorial at the Grand National meet.
Courella (Ire). 2004 dk. B. or br. g., Corrouge—Vollobollea, by Baragoi. Owner: Northwoods Stable. Trainer: Nancy Knox. 2013 record: No starts. 2012 record: 1-0-1-0, $1,350. In first U.S. start, finished second in 2012 Willowdale Steeplechase. Raced in selling steeplechase races in England in 2011. Seeking first win in more than 2 1/2 years.
Delta Park. 2004 b. g., Johannesburg–Excedius, by Seattle Dancer. Owner: Arcadia Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. 2013 record: 3-0-2-0, $10,800. 2012 record: 2-1-0-1, $29,000. 2011 record: 6-2-0-2, $51,250. Finished game second in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup after second in Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. In first start since winning the 2012 Radnor Hunt Cup, finished ninth in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase. Won the 2011 New Jersey Hunt Cup at Far Hills.
Embarrassed. 2005 b. g., Flatter—Stormy Blast, by Kayrawan. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. 2013 record: 6-1-1-1, $17,100. 2012 record: 7-1-0-2, $10,700. 2011 record: 10-1-1-2, $10,850. Pulled up at 19th fence of the 2013 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. Finished distant third in National Sporting Library Chronicle Cup after fourth in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase. Within a week, finished second in 2013 Winterthur Bowl and then won $15,000 Willowdale Steeplechase over timber.
Foyle. 2005 dk. b. or br. g., Yarrow Brae–Londonderry, by Perfecting. Owner: Merriefield Farm. Trainer: Bruce Fenwick. 2013 record: 5-3-0-0, $63,750. 2012 record: 3-1-1-1, $10,300. 2011 record: No starts. Won the 2013 timber championship with late-season victories in the International Gold Cup (as 11.60-1 longshot) and Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. Finished fourth in Virginia Gold Cup. Declared winner of Grand National’s Benjamin H. Murray Memorial after first two finishers went off course. Started his timber career in 2012 and won maiden victory at the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.
Gorgeous Charger. 2003 b. g., Awad–Gorgeous Gerty, by Darn That Alarm. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: William Meister. 2011 record: 8-0-0-2, $6,450. Made no starts in 2012 and 2013. Finished seventh in the 2011 New Jersey Hunt Cup after being pulled up in Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. Finished distant third Legacy Chase at Shawan Downs in Maryland and was well-beaten third in Benjamin H. Murray Memorial at Grand National meet.
Guts For Garters (Ire). 2003 br. g., Presenting—Askynn, by Beau Sher. Owner: FOXY Stable. Trainer: Sanna Neilson. 2013 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2012 record: 3-0-1-1, $10,700. Finished first in 2013 Benjamin H. Murray Memorial at Grand National but disqualified for going off course. In only other start, finished third in Maryland Hunt Cup. Finished third in 2012 Virginia Gold Cup after close second in the Murray.
Hold Your Fire. 2004 c. g., Waquoit–Distant Drumroll, by Eastern Echo. Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss Murray. 2013 record: No starts. 2012 record: 1-1-0-0, $10,500. 2011 record: No starts. Won 2012 Winterthur Bowl in his previous start. Won maiden timber race at 2010 Virginia Fall Races. Bred by Mimi Voss; Maryland-bred is a half brother to two steeplechase champions, Guelph (filly and mare, 2005 and 2008) and Wanganui (three-year-old, 2011).
Hot Rize. 2004 dk. b. or br. g., Sultry Song—Donesia, by Desert Wine. Owner: Holston Hall. Trainer: Russell Haynes. 2013 record: 6-1-1-1, $27,500. 2012 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,050. 2011 record: 7-2-1-2, $23,100. Ended 2013 season with third in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup after fourth in the National Sporting Library Chronicle Cup. Finished second by a nose in Radnor Hunt Cup after sixth in the Virginia Gold Cup as the 3.10-1 favorite. Won Middleburg Hunt Cup.
Imperial Way. 2005 ch. g., Point Given–Lasha, by Rahy. Owner: Merriefield Farm. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss Murray. 2013 record: 3-0-0-1, $2,000. Maiden on flat and over fences came back after 2 1/2-year absence to finish third in a Foxfield Spring timber maiden and then was fourth in a Winterthur timber allowance. Pulled up at 18th fence of Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.
More Fascination. 2003 b. g., Dynaformer–Desiray, by Deputy Minister. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Tara Elmore. 2013 record: 2-0-0-0, $2,500. 2012 record: 3-0-0-1, $3,000. 2011 record: 2-0-1-0, $6,300. Finished fourth in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup after sixth in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. Fell at the sixth fence of the 2012 Maryland Hunt Cup after third-place finish in the Grand National.
Spencer Road. 2006 b. h., Slew City Slew—Snars Good Fortune, by Snars. Owner: Gerry Brewster, Eleanor T. Russell, and Joseph Tydings. Trainer: Blythe Miller Davies. 2013 record: 2-0-0-1, $1,000. Finished third in John Rush Streett division at My Lady’s Manor before being disqualified from second to last for going off course in the Benjamin H. Murray Memorial at Grand National on April 20.
Twill Do. 2000 dk. b. or br. g., Yarrow Brae–A Little Wild, by Wild Again. Owner: Lucy A. Goelet. Trainer: William Meister. 2013 record: 2-0-0-0, $3,750. 2012 record: 2-1-0-0, $46,500. 2011 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. Finished fourth in 2013 Maryland Hunt Cup after seventh in Grand National. Became a two-time Maryland Hunt Cup winner in 2012 after fourth-place finish in the Grand National. Winner of 2010 Maryland Hunt Cup lost rider in 2011 Grand National, his only start that year.