Cornhusker and Peace Fire, the one-two finishers in the Winterthur Bowl, are coming right back for a rematch in the $50,000 Mason Houghland Memorial, the featured timber stakes race at Saturday’s 74th annual Iroquois Steeplechase at Percy Warner Park.
The Mason Houghland Memorial is one of four stakes races on the program, which will be highlighted by the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) over National Fences.
Also in the field is Irv Naylor’s Tax Ruling, a two-time Iroquois winner who has finished second in the past two editions of the three-mile Mason Houghland Memorial.
Cornhusker, representing 2014 champion timber owner Armata Stables, is the defending Mason Houghland winner, and he already has two victories to his credit. He kicked off the season with a victory in the $30,000 Middleburg Hunt Cup in Virginia on April 18 and then turned back Peace Fire in the Winterthur Bowl last Sunday.
A versatile runner over hurdles, he made a successful transition to timber racing last year and won the Mason Houghland Memorial by 5 3/4 lengths for trainer Alicia Murphy. Champion timber jockey Mark Beecher will ride.
Trained by champion trainer Jack Fisher, Northwoods Farm’s Peace Fire ran a strong race in the Winterthur Bowl after being pulled up in the My Lady’s Manor on April 11. Connor Hankin will again by in the saddle.
Fisher also will send out Jeremy Batoff’s Certain Swagger, who started the 2015 season with a certain swagger by pulling away to a 45-length victory in the timber allowance at the Queen’s Cup near Charlotte, N.C., on April 25. Sean McDermott will ride.
James Slater has the call on Tax Ruling for trainer Billy Meister. In five starts on the Percy Warner course, Tax Ruling’s only out-of-the-money finish was a fourth in the 2012 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1).
Here is the field for the $50,000 Mason Houghland Memorial in alphabetical order.
Certain Swagger. 2009 b. g., Arch—Comedy, by Theatrical (Ire). Owner: Jeremy Batoff. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeders: Claiborne Farm and Arlene Dilschneider. 2015 record: 1-1-0-0, $13,000. 2014 record: 5-0-0-2, $27,200. Began 2015 season with runaway, 45-length victory in Queen’s Cup timber allowance. Made successful transition to timber racing in 2014 and won timber allowance at International Gold Cup meet.
Class Brahms. 2008 b. g., Brahms–Class Babe, by Class Secret. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Tara Elmore. Jockey: Martin Rohan. Breeder: Mede Cahaba Stable and Stud (Va.). 2015 record: 1-0-0-1, $2,000. 2014 record: 2-0-0-1, $1,500. Finished third in Grand National timber allowance on April 18. In his 2014 debut, finished third in a My Lady’s Manor timber maiden race.
Class Indian. 2007 gr. or ro. g., Waquoit—Class Story, by Class Secret. Owner: Waterbaby Racing. Trainer: Ted Thompson. Jockey: Gus Dahl. Breeder: Mede Cahaba Stable and Stud (Va.). 2015 record: 2-0-0-1, $2,000. 2014 record: No starts. After long absence, returned over timber and finished third in Carolina Cup allowance. Set early pace in Queen’s Cup timber allowance but fell at last fence. Won 2012 Daniel Van Clief Memorial at Foxfield Spring Races in Virginia over hurdles but was disqualified for a medication positive.
Cornhusker (GB). 2007 b. g., Dynaformer–Nebraska Tornado, by Storm Cat. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Alicia Murphy. Jockey: Mark Beecher. Breeder: Juddmonte Farms (GB). 2015 record: 3-2-0-0, $33,900. 2014 record: 5-2-1-0, $50,300. Won 2015 Middleburg Hunt Cup and Winterthur Bowl after sixth-place finish in My Lady’s Manor. Made successful transition to timber racing in 2014 and won Iroquois Steeplechase’s $50,000 Mason Houghland Memorial. Ended 2014 season with second in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.
Monstaleur. 2007 ch. g., Meadow Monster—Taleur, by Stalwars. Owner: Black and Blue Stable. Trainer: Blythe Miller Davies. Jockey: Forrest Kelly. Breeder: Dr. James E. Bryant and Linda P. Davis (Va.). 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $600. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $750. Lightly raced maiden most recently finished fifth in second division of John Rush Streett maiden timber race at My Lady’s Manor on April 11. In only 2014 start, finished fourth in same race.
Peace Fire. 2007 b. g., Peace Rules–Miss Evans, by Nijinsky II. Owner: Northwoods Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Connor Hankin. Breeder: Briggs-Cromartie (Fla.) 2015 record: 2-0-1-0, $4,500. 2014 record: 2-0-0-0, $800. Finished well to be second by a half-length in Winterthur Bowl. Jumped poorly in 2015 My Lady’s Manor and was pulled up. Began 2014 season with fifth in Middleburg Hunt Cup, then was pulled up in Iroquois’ Mason Houghland Memorial. Won 2013 Winterthur Bowl.
Tax Ruling. 2003 dk. b. or br. g., Dynaformer–Fantastic Find, by Mr. Prospector. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: William Meister. Jockey: James Slater. Breeder: Phipps Stable (Ky.) 2015 record: 1-0-0-1, $3,000. 2014 record: 2-0-1-0, $9,900. Opened 2015 season with third in My Lady’s Manor. Two-time Iroquois (Gr. 1) winner finished second in 2014 Mason Houghland Memorial. Made a successful transition to timber in 2013, finishing second in the Mason Houghland Memorial at Iroquois and then winning a Fair Hill timber allowance two weeks later.