Holston Hall’s Hot Rize, seeking to burnish his championship numbers, heads a field of six timber specialists for the 80th running of the $35,000 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup on Sunday.
The four-mile timber classic is the featured race of the Unionville meet. First post time is 1:30 p.m.
Trained by Holston Hall’s Russell Haynes, Hot Rize took the lead for the 2014 timber championship with a half-length victory in the New Jersey Hunt Cup at the Far Hills Races on Oct. 18.
In his previous start, he jumped into the top ranks of timber competitors with a 10-1 victory in the Virginia Gold Cup on May 3. He now has current-year earnings of $75,900 going into the last timber stakes race of the season. Willie McCarthy, on course to claim his first jockey championship, will ride.
The only horse with a chance of catching Hot Rize for the 2014 earnings title is the current third-leading earner, Armata Stables’ Cornhusker, who finished fifth in the New Jersey Hunt Cup. Trained by Alicia Murphy, Cornhusker has 2014 earnings of $44,000. Winner of the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Mason Houghland Memorial, he will be ridden by Mark Beecher.
Jack Fisher, closing in on his third straight trainer title, entered Arcadia Stable’s Delta Park, who finished second in last year’s Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. Most recently fifth in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase on Sept. 27, Delta Park again will be ridden by Sean McDermott.
A new face in the timber ranks is owner-trainer Jason Cole’s Joshua G., winner of the Genesee Valley Hunt Races’ Martha Wadsworth Memorial maiden timber race on Oct. 11. David Byrne has the mount.
Who do you like in the Pennsylvania Gold Cup?
Major Malibu. 2004 b. g., Malibu Moon–Major Barbara, by Salutely. Owner: Jeremy Batoff. Trainer: William Dowling. Jockey: Justin Batoff. 2014 record: 3-0-2-0, $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.
Joshua G. 2006 ch. g., Run Softly—Search for Reality, by Regal Search. Owner-trainer: Jason L. Cole. Jockey: David Byrne. 2014 record: 2-1-0-0, $9,000. 2013 record: No starts. 8-1 odds. Homebred won Martha S. Wadsworth Memorial maiden timber race at the Genesee Valley Hunt Races in New York on Oct. 11. In first start since third in 2012 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup maiden timber race, pulled up in Shawan Downs maiden timber on Sept. 27.
Sovereign Fund. 2006 dk. b. or br. g., Giant’s Causeway—Colonial Play, by Pleasant Colony. Owner: Upland Partners. Trainer: Todd McKenna. Jockey: Annie Yeager. 2014 record: 4-0-0-1, $3,250. 2013 record: 1-0-0-0, $400. 10-1 odds. Finished third in Martha S. Wadsworth Memorial at Genesee Valley Hunt Races in upstate New York on Oct. 11. Posted fourth-place finishes in Willowdale maiden timber race and Grand National’s Benjamin H. Murray Memorial amateur timber allowance race.
Hot Rize. 2004 dk. b. or br. g., Sultry Song—Donesia, by Desert Wine. Owner: Holston Hall. Trainer: Russell Haynes. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2014 record: 3-2-0-0, $75,900. 2013 record: 6-1-1-1, $27,500. 2-1 odds. Established himself as the timber leader with half-length score in Far Hills’ New Jersey Hunt Cup on Oct. 18. Won the Virginia Gold Cup at odds of 10.70-1. Finished sixth in Grand National on April 19.
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. 5-1 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.
Cornhusker (GB). 2007 b. g., Dynaformer–Nebraska Tornado, by Storm Cat. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Alicia Murphy. Jockey: Mark Beecher. 2014 record: 4-2-0-0, $44,000. 2013 record: 5-1-1-0, $15,950. 7-2 odds. Made successful transition to timber racing and won Iroquois Steeplechase’s $50,000 Mason Houghland Memorial on May 10 after score in Middleburg Hunt Cup open timber race on April 19. Lost rider in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup on Oct. 4 and finished fifth in New Jersey Hunt Cup on Oct. 18.