Michael T. Wharton’s Grinding Speed knows Great Meadow Race Course well, and he will be attempting to recapture some of his former glory when he starts in Saturday’s $60,000 International Gold Cup, the featured timber race on a full program of nine pari-mutuel races. First post time is noon at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va.
Grinding Speed won the 2012 edition of the International Gold Cup and last year’s Virginia Gold Cup. Trained by Alicia Murphy, he finished fourth in this year’s Virginia Gold Cup and comes into Saturday’s race from a bad stumble in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup that unseated jockey Mark Beecher on Oct. 11.
He will face some formidable competition in the 3 1/2-mile race over timber fences. Magalen O. Bryant’s Dakota Slew is rounding into top form for trainer Richard Valentine and won Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup on Oct. 4. Darren Nagle will ride the seven-year-old Slew City Slew gelding.
Leading trainer Jack Fisher will saddle Sheila J. Williams’ and Andre Brewster’s Straight to It, who finished third in the New Jersey Hunt Cup, beaten only 1 1/4 lengths on Oct. 18. Sean McDermott will ride.
Entering the International Gold Cup from a Virginia Fall victory is Kinross Farm’s Schoolhouse Woods, who scored in an optional allowance hurdle race. Jacob Roberts will ride the Sky Classic seven-year-old as he tackles Great Meadow’s timber course.
Completing the field is Welcome Here Farm’s Be Great, a maiden timber winner at Winterthur in Delaware on May 4. Annie Yeager will be aboard Be Great for trainer Todd McKenna.
Who do you like in the International Gold Cup?
Schoolhouse Woods. 2007 b. g., Sky Classic—Mabelino, by Trempolino. Owner: Kinross Farm. Trainer: Neil Morris. Jockey: Jacob Roberts. 2014 record: 3-2-0-0, $18,000. 10-1 odds. Won Virginia Fall optional allowance hurdle on Sept. 27. Refused to start in Virginia Gold Cup’s Steeplethon after win in Middleburg Spring allowance hurdle.
Grinding Speed. 2006 gr. or ro. g., Grindstone—Cozelia, by Cozzene. Owner: Michael T. Wharton. Trainer: Alicia Murphy. Jockey: Mark Beecher. 2-1 odds. 2014 record: 4-0-1-1, $10,350. 2013 record: 3-1-0-0, $46,200. Started fall campaign with second in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase on Sept. 27, then lost rider in the Genesee Valley Gold Cup on Oct. 11. Finished fourth in Virginia Gold Cup on May 3 after third in My Lady’s Manor on April 12. Won the 2013 Virginia Gold Cup and 2012 International Gold Cup.
Straight to It. 2006 ch. g., Giant’s Causeway—Helsinka (Fr), by Pennekamp. Owners: Sheila J. Williams and Andre Brewster. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. 2014 record: 3-0-0-1, $10,000. 2013 record: 6-1-4-1, $47,500. 3-1 odds. Finished third in New Jersey Hunt Cup on Oct. 18 and National Sporting Library & Museum Cup at Virginia Fall on Oct. 4 after fourth in Radnor Hunt Cup on May 17. Finished fourth in 2014 debut in My Lady’s Manor, then was fifth in Virginia Gold Cup on May 3.
Be Great. 2007 ch. g., Gulch—Classic Ingrid, by Regal Classic. Owner: Welcome Here Farm. Trainer: Todd McKenna. Jockey: Annie Yeager. 2014 record: 2-1-0-0, $9,000. 2013 record: 4-0-0-2, $2,900. 15-1 odds. In most recent start, won maiden timber at Winterthur on May 4. Lost rider in division of John Rush Streett Memorial maiden timber at My Lady’s Manor on April 12.
Dakota Slew. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Slew City Slew—Klearlee Kiera, by Allen’s Prospect. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Darren Nagle. 2014 record: 2-1-0-0, $21,000. 2013 record: 5-0-0-2, $10,500. 8-5 odds. Won the National Sporting Library & Museum Cup at Virginia Fall on Oct. 4. Pulled up in Iroquois Steeplechase’s Mason Houghland Memorial on May 10. Finished third in 2013 Colonial Cup timber race after losing rider in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.