Bruton Street-US’s Scorpiancer (pictured), most recently fourth behind a scintillating finish in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), carries the 158-pound highweight in an oversubscribed field for Saturday’s $45,000 Valentine Memorial, the featured Ratings Handicap of the Fair Hill Races.
First post time is 1 p.m. for the Memorial Day weekend program, and five of the seven races have also-eligible horses. Pari-mutuel wagering will be conducted on all races.
The Valentine Memorial, a 2 1/4-mile race over National Fences, attracted a full field of 12 plus five also-eligible horses.
In a Ratings Handicap, weights are assigned according to the horses’ National Steeplechase Association Ratings, prepared by a panel of three expert handicappers working under the supervision of NSA Director of Racing Bill Gallo Jr. The top-rated horse carries 158 pounds, and the other weights are set according to the Ratings.
Trained by Jack Fisher, Irish-bred Scorpiancer has a 136 Rating after twice finishing behind Rawnaq, the year’s undisputed leader after victories in the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3) on April 23 and the Iroquois on May 14.
Although defeated by 15 lengths in the Temple Gwathmey, Scorpiancer was short of full fitness after missing two weeks of training over the winter and early spring. In the Iroquois, he finished willingly behind Rawnaq and two top-quality invaders from Ireland, Shaneshill and Nichols Canyon. Connor Hankin will ride Scorpiancer in the Valentine Memorial.
Sharing the 156-pound assignment are two members of Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s stable, All the Way Jose and Italian Wedding. Owned by Rodman Moorhead III, All the Way Jose was the 2014 novice champion and began his 2016 campaign with a fifth-place finish in the David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) at the Virginia Gold Cup on May 7. Willie McCarthy has the mount.
The trainer’s Italian Wedding, a Grade 1 winner in 2013, was pulled up in the Iroquois, his first 2016 start. Gerard Galligan will ride.
Also pulled up in the Iroquois was Mary Ann Houghland’s Pierrot Lunaire, the 2012 Eclipse Award champion who will carry 155 pounds in the Valentine Memorial. The 12-year-old is trained by Bruce Miller.
Leading owner Irv Naylor will be represented by Sacred Soul, who began the 2016 season with a fourth-place finish in a Ratings Handicap at the Iroquois meet in Nashville. Trainer Cyril Murphy named Kieran Norris to ride Sacred Soul, who is next in the weights at 151 pounds. Murphy also trains Rawnaq for Naylor.
Here is the field for the $45,000 Valentine Memorial, which honors the memory of long-time steeplechase owners Miles and Joy Valentine. The numbers in parentheses are their NSA Ratings.
Pierrot Lunaire. 2004 b. g., War Chant–Playact (Ire), by Hernando (Fr). Owner: Mary Ann Houghland. Trainer: Bruce Miller. Jockey: Open. Breeder: Skymarc Farm (Ky.). 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2015 record: 2-0-0-0, $6,000. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $7,500. Pulled up in 2016 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Finished fifth in 2015 Iroquois after seventh in Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3). In only 2014 start, finished fourth in Iroquois, a race he had won in 2009. Locked up 2012 Eclipse Award with victory in Grand National at Far Hills, N.J., after stunning 48.75-1 win by a nose in Belmont’s Lonesome Glory (Gr. 1). (133)
Sacred Soul. 2007 b. g., Perfect Soul (Ire)—Scarab Bracelet, by Riverman. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Racing Spring Farm (Ky.) 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,750. 2015 record: No starts. Finished fourth in Iroquois Ratings Handicap after two-season absence. In final 2013 start, won Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, and also finished second in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. (129)
Top Striker. 2009 b. g., Van Nistelrooy—Two’s Cozy, by Cozzene. Owner: Mrs. George M. Sensor. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeder: Sycamore Hall Farm (Md.) 2016 record: 2-0-0-1, $10,000. 2015 record: No starts. 2014 record: 6-2-0-2, $72,250. Finished third in 2016 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) at Virginia Gold Cup after fourth in Middleburg Spring’s Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3). Started 2014 with win in Carolina Cup and also scored in AFLAC Supreme Hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway. (126)
Bonded (Ire). 2007 b. g., Oasis Dream (GB)—Lovealoch, by Lomond. Owner: Bruce Smart Jr. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeders: Michael Woodlock and Seamus Kennedy (Ire). 2016 record: 3-0-0-0, $5,250. 2015 NSA record: 4-1-1-0, $51,200. 2014 record: No starts. Finished fourth in 2016 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2). Pulled up in 2016 Carolina Cup, then was sixth in Middleburg Spring’s Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3). Finished second in Montpelier’s Noel Laing, a Ratings Handicap. Finished fourth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle after victory in Saratoga allowance hurdle in August. Fell over another horse in the Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at the Iroquois Steeplechase on May 9. (120)
Portrade. 2009 b. g., Trade Fair (GB)—Portorosa, by Irish River (Fr). Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Gus Dahl. Breeder: Keene Bloodstock (Ire). 2015 record: 2-0-0-0, $2,500. 2014 NSA record: No starts. Finished fourth in Radnor’s 2015 National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) after fall in Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase for novices. In final 2014 starts in Ireland, won Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle at Listowel and then was second in a handicap hurdle at Tipperary. (125)
Maserati (Brz). 2015 record: 2-2-0-0, $30,000. 2009 bk. b. or br. g., Point Given—Lady Celina (Brz), by Roi Normand. Owner: Amy Taylor Rowe. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Paddy Young. Breeder: Fazenda Mondesir (Brz). 2016 record: 1-1-0-0, $45,000. 2015 NSA record: 2-2-0-0, $30,000. Won 2016 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Won Virginia Fall’s 2015 Bon Nouvel allowance hurdle after maiden win at Queen’s Cup. Also won Suffolk Downs flat race for hurdlers. (125)
Scorpiancer (Ire). 2009 b. g., Scorpion (Ire)—Janebailey, By Silver Patriarch. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Connor Hankin. Breeder: Mary O’Connor (Ire). 2016 record: 2-0-1-0, $19,000. 2015 NSA record: 2-2-0-0, $75,000. Finished second in Middleburg Spring’s 2016 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3), then fourth in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Won 2015 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle after dominant victory in Shawan Downs Ratings Handicap. Made his U.S. debut with a fourth-place finish in a flat race for hurdlers at Suffolk Downs on Sept. 5. Lightly raced six-year-old won maiden over hurdles in January at Ludlow. (136)
All the Way Jose. 2010 b. g., Senor Swinger—Maternity Leave, by Northern Baby. Owner: Rodman W. Moorhead III. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Jonathan Sheppard (Pa.) 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $3,000. 2015 record: 3-0-0-0, $3,750. 2014 record: 6-3-3-0, $149,700. Finished fifth in David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) at 2016 Virginia Gold Cup. Pulled up in 2015 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Lost rider in Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase, his 2015 debut, then was disqualified from third to fourth in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes. Clinched 2014 novice championship with Foxbrook Champion Hurdle victory. (134)
Italian Wedding. 2005 b. g., Alphabet Soup–Effervescent, by Citidancer. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Jonathan Sheppard (Fla.) 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2015 record: No starts. 2014 record: 4-0-0-1, $24,000. Pulled up in 2016 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), his first start since third in 2014 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), a race he won in 2013. Finished sixth in Saratoga’s 2014 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) after fifth in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). (134)
Miguel Grau. 2010 b. g., City Zip—Zuri Ridge, by Cox’s Ridge. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Open. Breeder: Sea Horse Breeders (Ky.) 2016 record: 2-0-0-1, $6,250. 2015 record: 6-1-1-1, $34,200. Finished fourth in 2016 Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle, then third in Virginia Gold Cup allowance hurdle. Finished third in a 2015 Saratoga allowance hurdle, then was seventh in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. First-year hurdler broke through for a 10 1/2-length victory in a Parx maiden hurdle after second at Iroquois Steeplechase. (112)
Albany Road. 2007 ch. g., Mr. Greeley—Jane’s the Name, by Trempolino. Owner: The Elkstone Group. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Gainesway Thoroughbreds (Ky.) 2016 record: 2-0-1-0, $4,500. 2015 record: No starts. 2014 record: 6-0-0-3, $22,450. Came back after long absence to set pace in 2016 Sandhills Cup optional allowance hurdle at Stoneybrook Steeplechase and held on for good second. Pulled up in Virginia Gold Cup allowance hurdle. (120)
Absolum. 2008 dk. b. or br. g., Fantasticat—Zenon, by Hawkster. Owner: William E. Riddle. Trainer: Billy Meister. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: William E. Riddle (Pa.) 2016 record: 2-0-0-0, $900. 2015 record: 4-1-0-1, $17,000. Fell in Radnor Ratings Handicap after opening 2016 season with sixth in Middleburg Spring Ratings Handicap. (119)
Canaveral (GB). 2008 dk. b. or br. g., Cape Cross (Ire)–Tameem, by Zilzal. Owner: Gregory Hawkins. Trainer: Janet Elliot. Jockey: Open. Breeder: Heather Raw (GB). 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $2,250. 2015 record: 2-0-0-0, $2,800. 2014 record: No starts. Finished fourth in 2016 Virginia Gold Cup allowance hurdle. Finished fifth in 2015 International Gold Cup allowance hurdle and Colonial Cup Ratings Handicap. Won 2013 Far Hills maiden hurdle before year on sidelines. (112)
Special Skills. 2010 dk. b. or br. g., Bernstein—Kentucky Whisper, by Southern Halo. Owner: Sheila Williams and Northwood Stables. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Sierra Farm (Ky.) 2016 record: 2-0-1-0, $17,250. 2015 record: 3-2-0-0, $45,000. Finished second in 2016 Carolina Cup, then fourth in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Closed his 2015 season with two victories, a maiden win at Suffolk Downs and an allowance hurdle score at the International Gold Cup. (119)
One Lucky Lady (GB). 2008 b. m., Lucky Story—One For Philip, by Blushing Flame. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Ken Knox (GB). 2016 record: 2-2-0-0, $48,000. 2015 NSA record: 2-1-1-0, $35,400. Won 2016 Margaret Currey Henley at Iroquois Steeplechase after victory in Middleburg Spring Ratings Handicap. Won her U.S. debut, Far Hills’ 2015 Peapack Stakes, and finished second in Colonial Cup’s Springdale Stakes. Former member of Nicky Henderson’s yard completed her overseas career with a victory in a Kempton handicap hurdle in April. (124)
Tubal. 2010 b. g., Shakespeare–Lady Nadine, by Alzao. Owner Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kevin Tobin. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Lady Olivia of North Cliff (Va.). 2016 record: 3-0-1-2, $17,300. 2015 record: 4-1-1-1, $43,750. Finished third in 2016 Iroquois Ratings Handicap. Finished third in 2016 Carolina Cup, then second in 2016 Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle. Won maiden hurdle impressively at 2015 Virginia Gold Cup, finished second in Fair Hill Ratings Handicap, and was fourth in a Saratoga allowance hurdle. (117)
Takepointsandrun. 2010 ch. g., Point Given–Town Queen, by Williamstown. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: William Meister. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeders: Carl Hurst, Fred Bradley, and William Bradley (Ky.). 2016 record: 3-2-0-0, $24,000. Kicked off 2016 campaign with win in Aiken Spring allowance hurdle, then won Stoneybrook Steeplechase Ratings Handicap after private sale. Went off course in Iroquois Ratings Handicap. Claimed from breeders at Churchill Downs in September 2015 and won first start over fences at Aiken Fall. (112)