Bruton Street-US’s Moscato, always well placed under Michael Mitchell, struck to the front before the final fence of the $50,000 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3) on Saturday and pulled away to a resounding repeat victory in the featured hurdle race of the 100th Middleburg Spring Races.
The historic Virginia race meet, conducted without spectators but with live-streaming video coverage of its 11 races, marked the emergence of National Steeplechase Association racing from the coast-to-coast new-coronavirus lockdown.
Trained by Jack Fisher, Moscato ruled as the 2017 novice champion, missed the 2018 season, and returned last year with a debut victory by 3½ lengths over Belisarius in the Temple Gwathmey. He banked more than $100,000 for the year with third-place finishes in the American sport’s richest hurdle races, the Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., and Nashville’s Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1).
Belisarius, owned by Gary Barber, Brous Stable, and Wachtel Stable, finished second for the second consecutive year for trainer Kate Dalton. Jockey Bernie Dalton, sensing a quick pace on the front end, parked Belisarius at the back of the field in the early going and came on to grab the second spot, 11½ lengths behind Moscato.
Bruton Street’s Rashaan, trained by Leslie Young, finished third, two lengths farther back. Hudson River Farms’ Iranistan, the 2018 novice champion, finished fourth, and Wendy Hendriks’ Surprising Soul was fifth. Zanjabeel, the 2018 Eclipse Award champion, was pulled up, and 2017 Eclipse winner Scorpiancer was scratched.
Surprising Soul and Iranistan came away from the flag fastest of all, with Iranistan quickly grabbing the advantage under Darren Nagle. The front-runners opened a gaping lead on the rest of the top-quality field in the first mile of the 2½-mile Temple Gwathmey.
Mitchell, last year’s co-champion jockey, placed Moscato in fourth position and advanced into third as the field headed into the final turn. Moscato gained on the tiring leaders two fences out and headed Iranistan going into the final fence.
He quickly opened daylight and widened his advantage to the finish line. Moscato ran the Temple Gwathmey’s distance in 5:18 1/5 on turf raced as good. Moscato carried 152 pounds, two pounds below starting highweight Zanjabeel and co-second highweight with Surprising Soul.
Andi’amu repeats in Middleburg Hunt Cup
Middleburg Spring’s featured timber race, the $20,000 Middleburg Hunt Cup, also produced a back-to-back winner. Ballybristol Farm’s Andi’amu, the reigning timber champion who is trained by Leslie Young, went to the lead at the start and never relinquished the advantage in a virtuoso performance.
Ridden for the first time by Thomas Garner, French-bred Andi’amu opened an insurmountable lead after the last fence and was geared down to the finish line through the final 30 yards to win by 3¾ lengths.
Doc Cebu, the timber champion in 2017 and 2018, finished second, and Hudson River’s Codrington Cottage took third money.
Garner moved Andi’amu to the front at the break, and shadowing them through the first three miles was Dolly Fisher’s Schoodic, the only horse ever to finish ahead of Andi’amu in a timber race.
For nearly three miles, Schoodic appeared to be poised to strike again in the Middleburg Hunt Cup. But he began to tire heading into the final fence, and Willie McCarthy was scrubbing on him in an attempt to keep pace with the easy-moving Andi’amu.
Mitchell kept Doc Cebu under a steady drive to gain second position, and Codrington College got up at the wire to claim third money. Irv Naylor’s Super Saturday finished fourth, a nose behind Codrington College, and Schoodic was fifth.
Andi’amu ran Middleburg Hunt Cup’s 3¼ miles in 6:42 3/5 on turf rated as good.
A Grade 1-placed hurdler, Andi’amu was shifted to steeplethon racing over mixed fences in 2018 and won his two starts. Young sent him over timber last year, and he scored victories in the Middleburg Hunt Cup and the Virginia Gold Cup.
He began the autumn season with an easy score in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library and Museum Cup on the Glenwood Park course before a second-place finish behind Schoodic in the International Gold Cup.
Galway Kid wins Glenwood Hurdle
Hudson River Farms’ Galway Kid, making only his third sanctioned start, surged past Brianbakescookies in the final yards to win the Middleburg Spring Races’ Glenwood Hurdle, the first jump race of the 2020 National Steeplechase Association season, on Saturday.
Trained by Jonathan Sheppard and ridden by Darren Nagle, the Irish-bred settled into stride about eight lengths off Repeat Repeat in the early going and began to work his way through the bulky field with about six furlongs remaining.
Gill Johnston’s Brianbakescookies seized the lead at the final fence of the Glenwood, an allowance hurdle, and quickly drew clear under Willie McCarthy. Nagle kept Galway Kid under pressure through the stretch and gradually gained the advantage in deep stretch to win by a neck.
Sherry Fenwick’s Anticipating, also trained by Sheppard, finished third, two lengths farther back, in a field of 14.
Galway Kid began his racing career in Irish point-to-points and won a year ago at Ballinagore. Acquired by Edward Swyer’s Hudson River Farms, he finished fifth in his U.S. debut, Far Hills’ Harry Harris, and then won his maiden victory at the Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens in Georgia.