Virginia-based trainer Jimmy Day had the best season of his career last year, and one of his winners was Bruce Smart Jr.’s Orchestra Leader, who prevailed in Foxfield Spring’s $25,000 Van Clief Memorial.
Orchestra Leader will attempt back-to-back wins on Saturday in the Van Clief Memorial optional allowance hurdle, the featured race of the 39th annual Foxfield Spring Races. First post time at the Charlottesville course in 1:30 p.m.
A seven-year-old Van Nistelrooy gelding, Orchestra Leader scored his only victory of the year in the Van Clief, but in a busy season he had five second-place finishes, including one at Saratoga Race Course. He started the 2016 season with a second in Aiken Spring’s Budweiser Imperial Cup optional allowance hurdle. Sean McDermott was named to ride.
Orchestra Leader will have stiff competition in the 2 1/8-mile Van Clief. Trainer Doug Fout will saddle Betsy Mead’s Forgotten Man and Beverly R. Steinman’s Perfect Union. Forgotten Man, a winner of Foxfield Fall’s feature last year and fourth in the Sandhills Cup optional allowance hurdle earlier this month, will be ridden by Dylan McDonough. Ross Geraghty was named aboard Perfect Union, the 2014 champion three-year-old.
Another Virginia-based horseman, Neil Morris, will saddle Noble Stables’ Candy Man Can and Pathfinder Racing’s veteran Congashene. Candy Man Can won his maiden victory at Aiken Spring in late March and finished third in the Sandhills Cup. He will be ridden by Kieran Norris.
Jacob Roberts has the mount on Congashene, who finished third in an Aiken Spring allowance hurdle and was pulled up in a Stoneybrook Ratings Handicap.
Leading owner Irv Naylor will be represented by Deficit and Jamarjo, both Irish-breds. Deficit won a Stoneybrook maiden hurdle on April 9, and Jamarjo is making his first 2016 start after winning last fall’s Charleston Cup for the second time. Geraghty has a double call on Cyril Murphy-trained Deficit, and champion jockey Paddy Young will be aboard Jamarjo for his wife, trainer Leslie Young.
Owner-trainer Randy Rouse will be attempting to beat his own record when he saddles Hishi Soar. In 2014, he established a U.S. mark as the oldest trainer to saddle a winner. Now 99, he had a fourth-place finish with Hishi Soar in last year’s Van Clief Memorial.
Here is the field for the $25,000 Daniel Van Clief optional allowance hurdle. The starters’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of each profile.
Bau Bai Gold. 2010 dk. b. or br. m., Sightseeing—Lynx of Gold, by Forest Wildcat. Owner: Jennifer H. Pitts. Trainer: Jazz Napravnik. Jockey: Open. Breeder: Damchu Stables (Pa.). 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2015 NSA record: 6-1-2-1, $35,500. 2014 record: 2-1-0-0, $15,000. Set pace briefly at start of 2016 Carolina Cup and was pulled up. Finished good second in 2015 Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes. Won the Charles S. Bird optional allowance hurdle at Aiken Spring to open 2015 season, then lost rider in Stoneybrook’s Sandhills Cup. Finished second in Iroquois’ Margaret Currey Henley and was third in open optional allowance hurdle at Foxfield Fall. (115)
Orchestra Leader. 2009 b. g., Van Nistelrooy—Magic of Life, by Seattle Slew. Owner: S. Bruce Smart Jr. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Strategy Bloodstock (Ky.) 2016 record: 1-0-1-0, $5,400. 2015 record: 8-1-5-1, $52,000. 2014 record: 6-1-0-2, $12,500. Finished second in 2016 Aiken Spring’s Budweiser Imperial Cup optional allowance hurdle. Finished second in Foxfield Fall’s featured optional allowance hurdle, then was third in Charleston Cup. Finished second in Saratoga optional allowance hurdle after fifth in Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Opened 2015 season with win in Foxfield Spring’s Daniel Van Clief Memorial optional allowance hurdle, then had second-place finishes in High Hope optional allowance hurdle at Lexington, Ky., and in Ratings Handicap at Parx Racing on July 14. (118)
Hishi Soar. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Theatrical (Ire)—Go On Baby, by With Approval. Owner-trainer: Randolph D. Rouse. Jockey: Gerard Gilligan. Breeder: Kaleem Shah (Ky.) 2015 record: 3-0-0-1, $3,500. 2014 record: 2-1-0-0, $6,000. Finished third in Virginia Fall Ratings Handicap after fourth in Foxfield Fall optional allowance hurdle. Finished fourth in Foxfield Spring’s Daniel Van Clief Memorial. Made history when he won 2014 Montpelier claiming hurdle and owner Randy Rouse became Thoroughbred racing’s oldest trainer to saddle a winner at age 97. (107)
Perfect Union. 2011 dk. b. or br. g., Purim—Blue Northern, by Top Account. Owner: Beverly Steinman. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Nelson E. Clemmons (Ky.). 2015 record: 6-0-2-1, $21,950. 2014 record: 3-1-1-1, $21,500. Finished sixth in Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 24, then was pulled up in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Was second in Saratoga allowance hurdle on July 29, then fell in similar race on Sept. 3. Finished second in Middleburg Spring optional allowance on April 15 and was third in Radnor allowance hurdle on May 16. Three-year-old champion of 2014 after winning Far Hills’ Gladstone. (113)
Cognashene. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Dynaformer—Catch the Ring, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Pathfinder Racing. Trainer: Neil Morris. Jockey: Jacob Roberts. Breeder: Sam-Son Farm (Ont.) 2016 record: 2-0-0-1, $2,000. 2015 record: No starts. 2014 record: 4-0-0-2, $6,750. In comeback race, finished third in Aiken Spring allowance hurdle, then was pulled up in Stoneybrook Ratings Handicap. Finished third twice in 2014. Won maiden hurdle at Colonial Downs in 2013. Finished fourth in division of Far Hills’ 2013 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. (110)
Jamarjo (Ire). 2007 b. g., Marju—Athlumney Lady, by Lycius. Owner; Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Paddy Young. Breeder: Frank Dunne (Ire). 2015 record: 1-1-0-0, $15,000. 2014 record: No starts. Returned to the races after winning the 2013 Charleston Cup and won 2015 Charleston Cup. (119)
Candy Man Can. 2011 ch. g., Lemon Drop Kid–Snow Cone, by Cryptoclearance. Owner: Noble Stables. Trainer: Neil Morris. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Live Oak Stud (Fla.) 2016 record: 2-1-0-1, $17,500. 2015 record: 1-0-1-0, $3.600. Won $25,000 maiden hurdle at Aiken Spring to open 2016 season and then was third in Sandhills Cup optional allowance hurdle two weeks later. In first start over fences, finished second to Dreamin Fool in 2015 Aiken Fall maiden hurdle. (116)
Forgotten Man. 2008 ch. g., Bowman’s Band—Hark the Sound (GB), by Robellino. Owner: Betsy Mead. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Dylan McDonagh. Breeder: Betsy B. Mead (Ky.) 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,250. 2015 record: 7-2-0-1, $36,750. 2014 record: 5-0-1-1, $10,450. Began 2016 season with fourth in Stoneybrook Steeplechase’s Sandhills Cup optional allowance hurdle, a race he won in 2015. Concluded 2015 season with fifth in Charleston Cup. Won Foxfield Fall’s featured optional allowance hurdle before seventh-place finish in Far Hills Ratings Handicap. (119)
Deficit (Ire). Gr. or ro. g., Dalakhani (Ire)—Venturi (GB), by Danehill Dancer (Ire). Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2016 record: 1-1-0-0, $12,000. 2015 NSA record: No starts. In first U.S. start, won Stoneybrook maiden hurdle. (116)
Majestic Z. 2012 ch. g., Majestic Warrior—Zienat, by Woodman. Owner: Clarke Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Barry Foley. Breeder: J. C. Davis Farm (Ky.) 2016 record: 1-1-0-0, $9,000. 2015 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $1,000. Won maiden claiming victory over fences at Stoneybrook. Made 10 flat starts in 2015 without a victory. (105)
Royal Bench (Ire). 2007 b. g., Whipper—Hit The Sky (Ire), by Cozzene. Owner: Atlanta Hall LLC. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Open. Breeder: Kilfrush Stud (Ire). 2016 record: No starts. 2015 record: No starts. Delaware Park flat stakes winner in 2013 also won his maiden start over fences at Charleston that year. In first start in more than two years, won a Middleburg Spring training flat race on April 23. (116)