Why Not Stable’s Complete Zen looms as the horse to beat in a highly competitive edition of the $25,000 Daniel Van Clief Memorial, the featured optional allowance-claimer at the 36th annual Foxfield Spring Races in Charlottesville, Va., on Saturday, April 27. First post time is 1:30 p.m. for the five-race program.
Trained by Lilith Boucher and ridden by her husband, veteran jockey Richard Boucher, Complete Zen is by far the most experienced hurdler in the field and will run for a $25,000 claiming price. He most recently finished second in a claiming race at Colonial Downs’ Dogwood Classic on April 6. In 2011, he notched two stakes victories, in the National Hunt Cup and the Georgia Cup.
Manown Kisor Jr.’s Sumo Power is coming off a victory in a Block House claiming hurdle on April 20 at Tryon, N.C. Trained by Michael Berryman, Sumo Power opened the 2013 season with a fifth-place finish in an Aiken Spring claimer on March 23.
The field for the 2 1/8-mile Van Clief also contains several horses who have found the winner’s circle for the first time in recent races. Owner-trainer Randy Rouse’s Hishi Soar is well acquainted with the Foxfield course after winning his maiden victory on it last fall. He subsequently finished fifth in an optional allowance hurdle at the Montpelier Hunt Races on Nov. 3. Roddy Mackenzie has the mount.
Returning to action is Magalen O. Bryant’s Southwest, who won a Penn National Race Course maiden hurdle on June 30 before going to the sidelines. Trained by Neil Morris, the Cozzene gelding previously had finished third in a Colonial Downs maiden hurdle on June 2.
Also representing Virginia owner Bryant will be Sulwaan, who is looking for his first U.S. victory. He won in Ireland over hurdles but fell in his American debut in a $25,000 optional allowance at Aiken Spring.
Jimmy Day, who trains Sulwaan, also entered Bruce Smart’s Orchestra Leader, who won his maiden race over fences at the Virginia Fall meet in Middleburg before a fifth in the Gladstone and a third in the Woolfe. He has been unplaced in his two 2013 starts.
Leading owner Irv Naylor will be represented by Final Straw, who opened 2013 with two fourth-place finishes, in the featured allowance race at the Dogwood Classic and an optional allowance at the Middleburg Spring Races on April 20. Final Straw is trained by Edward Mulligan, his former owner.