Reigning novice champion All Together returns to the races on Saturday, April 16, in a tough field for the $50,000 Priority Payment Systems Georgia Cup, the featured race of the 46th annual Atlanta Steeplechase in Kingston, Ga.
Also on tap on Saturday is the $35,000 My Lady’s Manor, in which South Monarch will be attempting a second straight victory in the first leg of the historic Maryland timber-racing series.
Owned by Andre Brewster and Sheila Williams, All Together sealed his 2010 championship last November with a dominant victory in the $75,000 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga. Like the Priority Payment Systems Georgia Cup, the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle was limited to novices, which are horses in their first seasons of competition over fences.
Trainer Jack Fisher named Xavier Aizpuru to ride All Together, a six-year-old Danzig gelding, in the two-mile race over National Fences.
Jonathan Sheppard, the Racing Hall of Fame member who dominated the National Steeplechase Association trainer standings last year, will send out two horses that he owns, One Giant Step and Italian Wedding. One Giant Step already has a win under his belt this year, in a $25,000 allowance race at Aiken, S.C., on March 26. Danielle Hodsdon has the mount.
Brian Crowley will be aboard Italian Wedding, who finished fourth to All Together in the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle.
Also coming into the Priority Payment Systems Georgia Cup from a 2011 victory is Coppertree Farm’s Good Request, winner of the $30,000 Woodward-Kirkover optional allowance race at the Carolina Cup Races in Camden, S.C., on April 2. Trainer Tom Voss named champion jockey Paddy Young to ride the seven-year-old Dynaformer gelding.
Completing the field is Complete Zen, a Mede Cahaba Stables homebred who finished third to All Together in the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle. Trainer Lilith Boucher named her husband, veteran jockey Richard Boucher, to ride the five-year-old Cozzene gelding.
Hodsdon, the sport’s leading jockey by purse earnings in 2009, makes her second start as a trainer in the afternoon’s supporting feature, the $25,000 Marquis Diagnostic Imaging Sport of Kings maiden hurdle. She will both saddle and ride Sharon E. Sheppard’s Hi Flyin Indy in the two-mile race over National Fences. Hi Flyin Indy finished fourth in the James W. Maloney maiden hurdle at Aiken on March 26.
My Lady’s Manor
The My Lady’s Manor, a three-mile race over post-and-rail fences, attracted a field of eight, with Morning Star Stables’ South Monarch facing a challenge from several talented veterans. South Monarch had finished second in the 2009 My Lady’s Manor, and the Conquistador Cielo gelding improved on that performance last year when jockey Jody Petty drove him to a head victory over eventual 2010 timber champion Bubble Economy.
South Monarch then won a timber race at the Winterthur Point-to-Point Races in Delaware on May 2 and was fourth in the Radnor Hunt Cup near Philadelphia on May 15, his final start of 2010. Trainer Sanna Neilson named Petty to ride South Monarch in this year’s My Lady’s Manor.
South Monarch will be challenged by Merriefield Farm’s Bon Caddo, who did not win a race in 2010 but had solid runner-up finishes in the Virginia Gold Cup, International Gold Cup, and Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. Trainer Dawn Williams named Blair Wyatt to ride the 10-year-old gelding.
Jeremy Batoff’s Prospectors Strike will be looking to strike in the My Lady’s Manor after collecting a victory in the 2010 Benjamin Murray Memorial at the Grand National meet, second stop on the Maryland timber-racing circuit. The third leg is the storied Maryland Hunt Cup. In addition to the Murray win, Prospectors Strike finished third in the Ski Roundtop Cup timber stakes at Shawan Downs in Hunt Valley, Md.
The Ski Roundtop winner, Arcadia Stable’s Delta Park, also is among the My Lady’s Manor entrants. The Johannesburg gelding finished seventh behind South Monarch in the Monkton race last year. Armata Stable’s Haddix, third in last year’s My Lady’s Manor, also is in the field.