Two 2009 National Steeplechase Association champions, Eclipse Award winner Mixed Up and timber leader Patriot’s Path, will make their seasonal debuts Saturday, April 17, on a busy day of steeplechase racing.
Mixed Up heads a highly competitive field for the $50,000 Temple Gwathmey, featured race of the 89th annual Middleburg Spring Races in Middleburg, Va., and Patriot’s Path will meet as many as 12 opponents in the $35,000 Grand National, second leg of Maryland’s historic timber-racing triumvirate in Butler. Also on the Saturday schedule is the 64th annual Block House Races in Tryon, N.C.
Owned by William Pape and trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, Mixed Up will carry the 156-pound high weight in the 2 1/2-mile Temple Gwathmey, a Grade 3 race that attracted a field of six. The 11-year-old Carnivalay gelding comes into the race from a victory in the $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1), and he will be conceding at least eight pounds to each of his opponents. Danielle Hodsdon again will be in the saddle.
Taking on the ’09 champion will be Randleston Farm’s Spy in the Sky, who scored a five-length victory in the $75,000 Carolina First Carolina Cup (Gr. 2) on March 27. Trainer Jimmy Day named Liam McVicar to ride the six-year-old Thunder Gulch gelding, who will carry 148 pounds.
Making his 2010 debut will be Ken Ramsey’s Slip Away, a seven-year-old Skip Away gelding who enters the Temple Gwathmey from a runaway, 12 3/4-length victory in the $40,000 Noel Laing at the Montpelier Races in Virginia last November. Trained by Tom Voss, Slip Away will carry 146 pounds. Xavier Aizpuru has the mount.
The Grand National, which was first run in 1898, attracted a field of 13 for the 3 1/4-mile race over post-and-rail fences.
Owned by perennial leading timber owner Irvin Naylor and trained by Desmond Fogarty at the owner’s Still Water Farm in Butler, Patriot’s Path locked up the 2009 timber title with a strong spring season that comprised victories in the John Rush Streett Memorial at My Lady’s Manor, the Benjamin H. Murray Memorial on the Grand National program, and the Mason Houghland Memorial at the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville, Tenn.
The ten-year-old Carnivalay gelding will carry scale weight of 165 pounds and will be ridden by Darren Nagle, who was aboard for his Streett and Houghland victories last season.
Patriot’s Path will face some formidable competition in the Grand National. Returning for a shot at a second Grand National victory is 11-year-old Private Attack, who won in 2008 and finished second last year for the Calhoun family’s Sportsmans Hall and trainer Alicia Murphy.
Robert A. Kinsley’s Incomplete, who won the My Lady’s Manor in his only 2009 start, will be ridden by Charles Fenwick III. Trained by Ann Stewart, the nine-year-old Press Card gelding won the 2007 and ’08 Murray Memorial in his only starts of those years.
Making his second start of the season will be Armata Stables’ Haddix, who led to the next to last fence in the My Lady’s Manor on April 10 but weakened late to finish third. Katherine N. McKenna trains the eight-year-old Deputy Commander gelding for owner Perry J. Bolton.
Pape’s Divine Fortune, who started his 2010 season with a second-place finish to Spy in the Sky in the Carolina First Carolina Cup, heads a compact field for the $25,000 Block House, the featured race of the 64th annual Block House Races in Tryon, N.C.