Approximately 100 steeplechase owners, horsemen, and prospective owners attended the second annual Owner-Trainer Symposium and Steeplechase Sale on Sunday at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains, Va., and heard a panel of owners and owner-trainers describe the many pleasures of jump racing.
The symposium panel was introduced by Al Griffin Jr., chairman of the National Steeplechase Association’s Promotion and Growth Committee, which sponsored the event. After the conclusion of the sale in Great Meadows’ winner’s enclosure, he said he was well pleased with both the symposium and the sale. “We had a good turnout. We’re thrilled,” he said. “We have a couple new owners. There was good value in the horses offered. We have the proper format now.”
Meriwether Morris jumped into jump racing last year, and she was rewarded last year with her first Grade 1 winner when Choral Society, racing for her Petticoats Loose Farm, scored a 16-1 upset in Saratoga Race Course’s $125,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial last Aug. 6.
“It was absolutely amazing,” she said during a panel discussion at the symposium. “I was incredibly nervous.” With Paddy Young riding for trainer Jack Fisher, Choral Society began his move at the top of Saratoga’s stretch. “It was great to see him coming from behind, and then he won!” she said.
Her farm is located 3 1/2 miles from Fisher’s Monkton, Md., operation, and Choral Society is now at the farm, with prospects for a return to racing in August.
Richard Valentine described how he found Demonstrative at the sales. He was attracted to him by his size initially. Owned by Jacqueline Ohrstrom, the Elusive Quality gelding has won a stakes race in every racing season since 2010 and was the 2014 Eclipse Award winner after three Grade 1 victories. He now is approaching $1-million in career earnings.
Owner-trainer Kate Dalton had Gary Barber’s 2015 champion novice African Oil arrive on a van from California in winter of 2015. Sour on the flat, African Oil took to jumping immediately and locked up his title with a victory in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. “He started jumping, and he really loves jumping,” she said.
The owner, CEO of MGM, was willing to try jump racing after African Oil proved to be temperamentally ill-suited for the racetrack. “He’s very much about what’s good for the horse,” she said.
Reynolds Cowles, D.V.M., chairman of the National Steeplechase Association’s Steeplechase Safety Committee, said many different types of horses are suited to jump racing. “I think we have all sorts of horses making the transition to jump racing,” he said. “For these horses, jump racing is a second career, and many of them go on to third careers” after their racing days end.
He hailed the care given to steeplechase horses by their trainers. “They’re older horses, and some of them have a lot of mileage on them, so we have to be careful,” he said. “We have a great group of people training these horses, and two of them are right here,” indicating Dalton and Valentine.
The panel discussion, organized and moderated by Joe Clancy of thisishorseracing.com, preceded the sale of several steeplechase runners and prospects. Among them was Selection Sunday, offered by Fisher for the estate of Andre W. Brewster, a prominent owner who died in February. A leading novice last year, the Harlan’s Holiday gelding won the Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase in April and finished second to African Oil in the Jonathan Kiser. He sold for $44,000 to top the sale.
Here are the complete results: http://thisishorseracing.com/news/PDF/SalesResults16.pdf