The front end was the place to be on Saturday, April 16, when pacesetters Complete Zen won the $50,000 Priority Payment Systems Georgia Cup and Bon Caddo took the $35,000 My Lady’s Manor. But both winners faced stiff battles at the end of their races, and their combined winning margin was less than a length.
In the Georgia Cup, featured event of the 46th annual Atlanta Steeplechase in Kingston, Ga., Mede Cahaba Stables’ Complete Zen went to the front immediately under Richard Boucher and set a comfortable pace ahead of All Together, the reigning novice champion owned by Andre W. Brewster and Sheila Williams.
Ridden by Xavier Aizpuru, All Together challenged at the final fence while Complete Zen lost some ground over the last obstacle. They battled through the length of the stretch, with Complete Zen prevailing by a head.
Coppertree Stable’s Good Request finished third, 4 1/2 lengths farther back, and owner-trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s duo of Italian Wedding and One Giant Step finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Complete Zen ran the Priority Payment Systems Georgia Cup in 3:50.60. Trained by Lilith Boucher, the jockey’s wife, five-year-old Complete Zen had won a key maiden race in his debut over fences at the Virginia Fall Races in Middleburg last year. The Cozzene gelding then was third to All Together in the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle in Pine Mountain, Ga., in November.
Merriefield Farm’s Bon Caddo kicked off the 2011 Maryland timber-racing season with a scintillating three-quarter-length victory over More Fascination in the $35,000 My Lady’s Manor in Monkton.
Morning Star Stables’ South Monarch, bidding for a second consecutive victory in the three-mile race over timber fences, finished third on damp, cool afternoon in Maryland’s hunt country.
Bon Caddo set all of the pace in the My Lady’s Manor under Blair Wyatt and resisted the late attack by Rosbrian Farm’s More Fascination, who was making his first sanctioned start since May 2009. Wyatt, who was told in February that she would ride Bon Caddo in the spring campaign, said the game plan was not necessarily to go to the lead. “I wanted to keep him close and see how it worked out,” she said.
The jockey said More Fascination began his challenge three fences from the finish and made a strong move at the last. “We were able to win by three-quarters of a length,” Wyatt said.
Delta Park took fourth, and Haddix came home fifth. The only other starter, Prospectors Strike, unseated his rider. Bon Caddo ran the My Lady’s Manor distance in 7:22.40 on soft ground.
Trained by Dawn Williams, Bon Caddo collected his first victory in a year and a half, although the 10-year-old Bon Point gelding ran well in two major late-season timber races last year, finishing second in the International Gold Cup in Virginia and the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.