Michael T. Wharton’s Grinding Speed, the current leader in the 2015 timber standings, will seek his third major win of the year in the $35,000 National Sporting Library & Museum Cup, the featured race of Saturday’s 61st annual Virginia Fall Races.
The eight-race program at Middleburg’s Glenwood Park Course attracted full fields, including four also-eligibles for a $15,000 Racings Handicap and nine wait-listed for a $20,000 maiden hurdle.
The 3 1/4-mile National Sporting Library attracted 13 entries in all, with several contenders ready to challenge Grinding Speed for the top spot in the timber ranks. In his first two starts this year, Grinding Speed won the My Lady’s Manor and the Virginia Gold Cup, but he began the fall campaign with a lackluster fourth in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase over timber on Sept. 26. Trained by Alicia Murphy, Grinding Speed will be ridden by Mark Beecher.
Alicia Murphy also trains the second-ranked timber horse by earnings, Armata Stables’ Cornhusker, who has three victories in four starts this year, with wins in the Middleburg Hunt Cup on the Glenwood course, the Winterthur Bowl, and the Mason Houghland Memorial at the Iroquois Steeplechase on May 9.
Jack Fisher, who is dominating the year’s trainer standings by wins and earnings, entered Sheila Williams’ and Andre Brewster’s Straight to It, who was disqualified to second from a victory in the Radnor Hunt Cup on May 16. Sean McDermott will ride. Fisher also entered the Bruton Street-US pairing of Ballylifen and Two’s Company.
Super Saturday heads leading owner Irv Naylor’s three candidates for the National Sporting Library. Trained by Kathy Neilson, Super Saturday finished a close second to Cornhusker in the Middleburg Hunt Cup on April 18. Gerard Galligan will ride.
Naylor other two entrants are Chess Board, trained by Billy Meister, and Cyril Murphy-trained Ebanour. Meister also trains Donald Reuwer Jr.’s Grand Manan, easy winner of the Valentine Memorial novice timber race at Fair Hill, Md., on May 23.
Chris Read entered the Kinross Farm duo of Schoolhouse Woods and Old Timer. Schoolhouse Woods, an easy winner of the Willowdale Steeplechase on May 10, will be ridden by Kieran Norris, while James Slater will be aboard Old Timer.
Darren Nagle has the riding assignment aboard Magalen O. Bryant’s Dakota Slew, a closing second in the Virginia Gold Cup, for trainer Richard Valentine.
Here is the field for the $35,000 National Sporting Library and Museum Cup.
Ebanour (Ire). 2007 ch. g., Indian Ridge—Ebadilya, by Sadler’s Wells. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Lia McGuirk. Breeders: Aga Khan’s Studs (Ire). 2015 record: 1-0-1-0, $1,800. 2014 record: No starts. After missing the 2014 season, returned with a good second in John D. Schapiro Memorial amateur apprentice timber at My Lady’s Manor.
Aero. 2005 b. g., Northern Spur (Ire)–Best Victory (Fr), by Cadoudal. Owner: Alfred C. Griffin Jr. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Jeff Murphy. Breeder: Eldon Farm Racing Stable (Va.) 2015 record: No starts. 2014 record: No starts. Would be making first start since fifth in 2013 International Gold Cup. Finished second in 2012 International Gold Cup after fourth in National Sporting Library Chronicle Cup. Won 2011 National Sporting Library Chronicle Cup before second in International Gold Cup.
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. Breeder: Larry Curtis (Ky.) 2015 record: 2-0-1-0, $17,700. 2014 record: 4-1-1-0, $32,600. Finished second in Virginia Gold Cup after fourth in My Lady’s Manor. Won 2014 National Sporting Library & Museum Cup at Virginia Fall before second in International Gold Cup and fifth in Colonial Cup’s Springdale open timber race.
Old Timer. 2006 b. g., Orientate—Chatham Hall, by Green Dancer. Owner: Kinross Farm. Trainer: Christopher Read. Jockey: James Slater. Breeder: Gainesway Thoroughbreds (Ky.) 2015 record: No starts. 2014 record: 2-0-1-1, $12,900. Finished second in 2014 My Lady’s Manor before third in Virginia Gold Cup. Finished second in 2013 National Sporting Library Chronicle Cup.
Chess Board (GB). 2003 b. g., Vettori–Cruinn a Bhord, by Inchinor (GB). Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: William Meister. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeder: Stanley Estate and Stud Co. (GB). 2015 record: No starts. 2014 record: 3-0-0-1, $5,200. 2013 record: 1-1-0-0, $15,000. Finished sixth in 2014 Radnor Hunt Cup. Had third in the 2014 Middleburg Hunt Cup, then lost rider in the Virginia Gold Cup. Won 2013 New Jersey Hunt 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. Breeder: Thierry Grandsir (Ky.). 2015 record: 3-0-1-1, $15,600. 2014 record: 7-1-0-3, $33,000. Disqualified from victory in Radnor Hunt Cup on May 16. Finished fifth in 2015 My Lady’s Manor, then third in Virginia Gold Cup. Won Colonial Cup’s Springdale open timber for second straight year to close 2014 after third-place finishes in National Sporting Library & Museum Cup, International Gold Cup, and New Jersey Hunt Cup. Won the 2012 New Jersey Hunt Cup at Far Hills.
Grinding Speed. 2006 gr. or ro. g., Grindstone—Cozelia, by Cozzene. Owner: Michael T. Wharton. Trainer: Alicia Murphy. Jockey: Mark Beecher. Breeders: Alan S., Mark T., Mitchell A., and Madeline R. Kline, et al. (Md.) 2015 record: 3-2-0-0, $73,250. 2014 record: 5-1-1-2, $46,350. Finished fourth in Shawan’s Legacy Chase on Sept. 26. Won his second Virginia Gold Cup on May 2 and also won second International Gold Cup in 2014. Won 2015 My Lady’s Manor.
Super Saturday. 2009 gr. or ro. g., Any Given Saturday—Lady Aloma, by Cozzene. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Walton Breeders (Ky.) 2015 record: 3-1-1-0, $18,400. 2014 record: 5-1-0-1, $13,000. Started 2015 with 2 1/4-length victory in Carolina Cup’s allowance timber race, then was second in Middleburg Hunt Cup and fifth in Winterthur Bowl.
Two’s Company (Ire). 2009 b. g., Soviet Star—Gaye Lady, by Pistolet Bleu (Ire). Owner: Bruton Street-U.S. Trainer Jack Fisher. Jockey: Connor Hankin. Breeders: M. W. and Mrs. M. Doran (Ire). 2015 record: 2-1-0-0, $9,000. 2014 record: 2-1-0-0, $9,000. Won his first career start in John Rush Streett division at My Lady’s Manor and fell at last of Queen’s Cup timber allowance.
Grand Manan. 2009 b. g., Giant’s Causeway—Manoa, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Donald Reuwer Jr. Trainer: William Meister. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeders: Stuart S. Janney III and Phipps Stable (Ky.). 2015 record: 1-1-0-0, $18,000. 2014 record: No starts. In first start in more than two years, won Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial Novice Timber by seven lengths after setting all the pace.
Cornhusker (GB). 2007 b. g., Dynaformer–Nebraska Tornado, by Storm Cat. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Alicia Murphy. Jockey: Alicia Murphy. Breeder: Juddmonte Farms (GB). 2015 record: 4-3-0-0, $63,000. 2014 record: 5-2-1-0, $50,300. Won Iroquois’ Mason Houghland Memorial for the second straight year on May 9 six days after victory in Winterthur Bowl. Won 2015 Middleburg Hunt Cup after sixth-place finish in My Lady’s Manor. Ended 2014 season with second in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.
Ballylifen (Ire). 2007 b. g., Brian Boru—Line Jade, by Luchiroverte. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Connor Hankin. Breeder: J. Mangan (Ire). 2015 record: 2-1-0-0, $13,500. 2014 NSA record: 1-0-1-0, $2,700. Finished fourth in 2015 Virginia Gold Cup after winning division of John Rush Streett maiden timber race at My Lady’s Manor.
Schoolhouse Woods. 2007 b. g., Sky Classic—Mabelino, by Trempolino. Owner: Kinross Farm. Trainer: Christopher Read. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Kinross Corp. (Ky.). 2015 record: 3-2-1-0, $41,700. 2014 record: 4-2-0-0, $21,000. Won Willowdale Steeplechase by 14 lengths on May 10, eight days after victory in Virginia Gold Cup’s Steeplethon. Also second in Middleburg Spring’s Alfred M. Hunt steeplechase. Finished fourth in 2014 International Gold Cup.