Augustin Stables’ Rainiero will put his three-race winning streak on the line in a $20,000 starter allowance hurdle, the feature race of the 45th annual High Hope Steeplechase at Lexington’s Kentucky Horse Park on Sunday, May 20. First post time is 1:45 p.m.
Trained by Richard Valentine, Rainiero will be making his first 2012 start in the race restricted to horses who have started for claiming prices of $20,000 or less in 2011 and 2012. The Chilean-bred qualified with a victory with a $15,000 claiming price in the Bon Nouvel optional allowance at the Virginia Fall Races on Oct. 1, his first start of the year.
He subsequently won an optional allowance at the Montpelier Hunt Races in Virginia on Nov. 5 and closed out the season with a score in the Hobkirk Hill starter allowance at the Colonial Cup in Camden, S.C., on Nov. 19. Matt McCarron, who rode Rainiero in all of his 2011 races, will be in the saddle.
Black Bag was entered for his first hurdle start in the silks of new owner Dominick Falini. In his final 2011 start, he won an allowance race on the flat at the International Gold Cup in Virginia. Trained by Leslie Young, Black Bag prepared for his High Hope start with a victory in a flat race at the Willowbrook Steeplechase in Pennsylvania on May 13.
Not to be overlooked is High Hope Stables’ Tizallaboutme, who dominated a maiden hurdle race by 32 1/4 lengths at the Atlanta Steeplechase on April 14. Willie McCarthy will ride for trainer Arch Kingsley Jr.
Seeking to upset the males is trainer Kate Dalton’s Cat Feathers, a four-year-old filly who won a maiden claiming hurdle by 7 1/4 lengths at the Charleston Cup races in South Carolina on Nov. 13. Bernie Dalton, the owner’s husband, will ride.
Trainer Michael Berryman entered Manown Kisor’s Sumo Power and his own Johann Star. Sumo Power finished fourth in a Virginia Gold Cup starter allowance on May 5, and Johann Star was second in a claiming race at the Block House Steeplechase in North Carolina on April 21.