The first of 11 race meets spread across seven states over the next month and half takes place at Shawan Downs near Hunt Valley in Baltimore County on Saturday with an eight-race card that’s attracted 75 entries.
After two months of high-profile flat-track steeplechase racing at Saratoga and Colonial Downs in Virginia, the National Steeplechase Association returns to the hunt-meet courses starting on Saturday with the 21st Legacy Chase at bucolic Shawan Downs equestrian center in Cockeysville, Md.
Eight races, with purses totaling $100,000, have been carded including three maiden hurdle contests, one restricted to three years olds; two timber events (a maiden and allowance); a handicap for horses rated at 120 or less; and a pair of flat races that have drawn full 14-horse fields. Not only will so many horses, who have been sitting on the sidelines the past few months, get the chance to stretch their legs in actual competition, so will many jockeys. A total of 19 different riders are slated to have mounts at Shawan.
With beautiful weather forecast — sunny skies and temps in the mid 70s — and fans welcomed back, the meet offers an upbeat opportunity to usher in the Fall calendar. Gates open at 10 a.m., and first-race post time is 12:30 p.m. The day begins at noon with the always fun stick pony races for children.
Race Director Charlie Fenwick said putting on this year’s event has been both challenging and rewarding. The meet lost its sponsor, GBMC HealthCare as a result of Covid-19, and is being run this year by and for the Land Preservation Trust, the nonprofit corporation forged to preserve the property’s agricultural heritage and keep it from being developed into housing. When GBMC backed away, Baltimore-based investment firm Brown Advisory stepped in as principal sponsor, to enable the show to go on. The event got a further boost as a result of the generosity of the Temple Gwathmey Steeplechase Foundation and several of its members who provided additional monies to enable the maiden hurdle race for three-year-olds and up to be split into two divisions, each with a $15,000 purse.
Fenwick said he’s pleased with ticket sales, and while he doesn’t anticipate a blockbuster crowd, expects “a couple of thousand” fans from the local community who have been wonderfully supportive of the meet.
As for the races themselves, the card features a bevy of veteran performers as well as newcomers. In the featured $25,000 Ratings Handicap, South Branch Equine’s Compass Zone steps up following a maiden score at Colonial Downs on Aug. 30 for trainer-jockey Sean McDermott. DASH Stables’ Prayer Hope exits a fourth-place finish to up-and-comer Booby Trap in a Sept. 1 allowance at Saratoga for trainer Jack Fisher. Upland Flat Racing and John Lewis’ West Newton finished 1 ¾ lengths ahead of Prayer Hope in that Spa allowance. Sherry Fenwick’s Anticipating, a winner of a handicap for runners rated at 130 or less last fall, returns after two stakes starts in the spring. Gill Johnston’s Contented got his first taste of American jump racing last spring in two novice stakes following a 14-race career in the UK, and seeks his first top-three finish stateside. Rounding out the field is Presence of Mind, an Irish-bred first-time U.S. starter for Bruton Street-US and trainer Leslie Young.
In the open timber allowance, fans will get the chance to see some top-flight competitors. Kiplin Hall’s Renegade River won two straight last spring, including the Willowdale Stakes, for trainer Willie Dowling. Dolly Fisher’s Schoodic, a 12-time winner in his long career, most recently took the Virginia Gold Cup in May. Northwoods Stable and Sheila Williams’ Storm Team won the Mason Houghland timber allowance at the Iroquois Races in June, while Nancy Reed’s Awesome Adrian has hit the board in nine of his last 10 starts. Leipersfork Steeplechasers’ Tomgarrow was second in the Virginia Gold Cup and Houghland.
The two training flat contests will see the return of Upland Partners’ 12-year-old multiple-stakes winning timber ace Mystic Strike, along with Joseph Fowler’s Down Royal, a two-time 2021 winner coming off a victory, by disqualification, in the Randolph Rouse filly and mare stakes at Colonial Downs. Irv Naylor’s Bedrock makes his first start since finishing third to Snap Decision in the G1 Iroquois in June.
For the complete entries, click here: https://www.nationalsteeplechase.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Shawan-Overnight.pdf
You can view the Legacy Chase via live stream from the link on NSA homepage, www.nationalsteeplechase.com, beginning at 12:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The live stream is sponsored by Brown Advisory, the Temple Gwathmey Steeplechase Foundation, Charleston’s Post & Courier, and the Virginia Equine Alliance.