Two veteran timber stakes winners, Grinding Speed and Delta Park, will clash Saturday in the $25,000 Genesee Valley Hunt Cup, the featured contest of the historic Genesee Valley Hunt Races in Geneseo, N.Y. First post time is 1 p.m.
Michael T. Wharton’s Grinding Speed won last year’s historic Virginia Gold Cup and the 2012 International Gold Cup, both at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains, Va.
He most recently finished second in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase, an open timber race in Hunt Valley, Md., on Sept. 27. Trainer Alicia Murphy named Mark Beecher to ride Grinding Speed.
Arcadia Stable’s Delta Park, who finished fifth in the Legacy Chase, will be looking to improve on a second-place effort in last year’s Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. Trained by Jack Fisher, Delta Park won the 2012 Radnor Hunt Cup and the 2011 New Jersey Hunt Cup. Sean McDermott has the mount.
Equinox Stable’s Snow Blizzard finished fourth in the Legacy Chase, and trainer Nancy Knox named Bethany Baumgardner to ride.
James Slater will be astride Irv Naylor’s Almarmooq, who finished second in a Willowdale Steeplechase timber allowance race on May 11 for trainer Kathy Neilson.
Also entered for the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup’s 3 1/2-mile test was Jeremy Batoff’s Major Malibu, who was pulled up in the Legacy Chase. Justin Batoff, the owner’s brother, will ride for trainer William Dowling.
Completing the field is Welcome Here Farm’s Serene Harbor, winner of a timber allowance race at the Winterthur Races on May 4. Annie Yeager has the mount for trainer Todd McKenna.
Who do you like in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup?
Serene Harbor. 2003 b. g., Valley Crossing—We Wak Harbor, by Waquoit. Owner: Welcome Here Farm. Trainer: Todd McKenna. Jockey: Annie Yeager. 2014 record: 2-1-0-0, $6,000. 2013 record: No starts. 8-1 odds. Returned to the races after a nearly two-year break and won a Winterthur timber allowance race, then was distant seventh in Fair Hill novice timber.
Major Malibu. 2004 b. g., Malibu Moon–Major Barbara, by Salutely. Owner: Jeremy Batoff. Trainer: William Dowling. Jockey: Justin Batoff. 2014 record: 4-0-2-0, $6,300. 2013 record: 1-0-0-0, $750. 10-1 odds. Most recently pulled up in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase on Sept. 27. Finished second, beaten three-quarters of a length, in Willowdale Steeplechase on May 11. Finished distant second in Western Run Plate at Grand National on April 19. In only 2013 start, finished fourth in the Alfred M. Hunt timber race at the Middleburg Spring Races.
Grinding Speed. 2006 gr. or ro. g., Grindstone—Cozelia, by Cozzene. Owner: Michael T. Wharton. Trainer: Alicia Murphy. Jockey: Mark Beecher. 2014 record: 3-0-1-1, $10,350. 2013 record: 3-1-0-0, $46,200. 5-2 odds. Started fall campaign with second in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase on Sept. 27. 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.
Delta Park. 2004 b. g., Johannesburg–Excedius, by Seattle Dancer. Owner: Arcadia Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. 2014 record: 3-0-0-1, $3,800. 2013 record: 3-0-2-0, $10,800. 7-2 odds. Most recently fifth in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase on Sept. 27. Finished third in the Grand National on April 19 before fall in Maryland Hunt Cup. Ended 2013 season with game second in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup after second in Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. Won 2012 Radnor Hunt Cup and 2011 New Jersey Hunt Cup.
Almarmooq. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Dynaformer–Tuscoga, by Theatrical (Ire). Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: James Slater. 2014 record: 3-0-2-0, $6,000. 2013 record: 9-1-1-3, $14,300. 6-1 odds. Finished second in Willowdale timber allowance race on May 11. Began season with second in Benjamin H. Murray amateur timber allowance race at Grand National on April 19, then was last of six in Winterthur Bowl on May 4. Won maiden over timber at 2013 Genesee Valley Hunt Races.
Snow Blizzard (Ire). 2007 b. g., Sadler’s Wells–Pescia (Ire), by Darshaan (GB). Owner: Equinox Farm. Trainer: Nancy G. Knox. Jockey: Bethany Baumgardner. 2014 record: 2-0-0-0, $1,800. 2013 record: 1-1-0-0, $4,500. 5-1 odds. Finished fourth in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase after fifth in Winterthur Bowl on May 4. In only 2013 start, won the John D. Schapiro Memorial timber allowance race at My Lady’s Manor.