A star-studded field of 10 has been entered for the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3), the centerpiece of an eagerly awaited Middleburg Spring Races on Saturday, June 13, when American Steeplechasing emerges from the coast-to-coast lockdown caused by the new coronavirus.
National Steeplechase Association horsemen responded enthusiastically to the program of 11 races with more than 200 entries, an NSA record and a tribute to the owners and trainers who kept their horses in training through the spring.
Eight of the races have long also-eligible lists of horses who will draw into the race in case of scratches. In all, the Middleburg Spring races offer $200,000 in purse money.
First post time will be 12:30 p.m. for the centennial edition of the Middleburg Spring Races at Glenwood Park. No spectators will be admitted to the Virginia race course, and the races will be broadcast on the NSA’s website.
The $50,000 Temple Gwathmey at 2½ miles over National Fences attracted a field that includes two Eclipse Award winners, another Grade 1 winner, and two novice champions.
Bruton Street-US, the reigning champion owner, will play a strong hand with three prospective starters. Topping the Bruton group is 2017 Eclipse winner Scorpiancer, who won the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) for a second time last year and most recently finished second in the Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills in October.
The 11-year-old Irish-bred, who won the Temple Gwathmey in his championship season, is trained by Jack Fisher and returns with his regular jockey, Sean McDermott. Currently the American sport’s top-rated competitor, Scorpiancer will carry 158 pounds in NSA Director of Racing Bill Gallo’s handicap.
Fisher also will saddle Bruton Street’s Moscato, the 2017 novice champion who won last year’s Temple Gwathmey and finished third, a neck behind Scorpiancer, in the Grand National. Michael Mitchell, last year’s co-champion jockey, will ride Moscato, who carries 152 pounds.
Leslie Young will send out Bruton Street’s Rashaan, who made his American debut in the Grand National and was fifth in the International Gold Cup’s David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2) on Oct. 26. Thomas Garner will ride the eight-year-old Irish-bred, who totes 146.
Rosbrian Farm’s and Meadow Run Farm’s Zanjabeel, the 2018 Eclipse winner, returned to the races in the Ferguson after more than a year on the sidelines and finished fourth. Trained by Ricky Hendriks, Zanjabeel has a 154-pound weight assignment. No jockey was named.
Hendriks also will saddle his mother Wendy’s Surprising Soul, winner of last September’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) at Belmont Park before a sixth-place finish in the Grand National. The eight-year-old by Perfect Soul carries 152 pounds and will be ridden by Ross Geraghty.
Trainer Cyril Murphy will send out Irv Naylor’s Amschel, a multiple hurdle winner in Ireland who came back after a year off with a sixth-place finish in the Appleton Ratings Handicap at Far Hills. Murphy wheeled him back in two weeks, and Amschel won Montpelier’s Noel Laing Handicap. He carries 142 pounds and again will be ridden by Graham Watters.
Also at 142 pounds is Winner Massagot, the 2018 Noel Laing winner who now is owned by Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trained by Richard Valentine, the French-bred will be making his first start since being pulled up in last year’s Temple Gwathmey. Kieran Norris will ride.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard entered Hudson River Farms’ Iranistan, the 2018 novice champion. Now six, Iranistan was pulled up in last year’s Grand National before a fourth-place finish in the Steeplechase at Callaway’s Aflac Supreme Hurdle in November. Darren Nagle rides Iranistan, who carries 140 pounds.
Trainer Kate Dalton will saddle Belisarius, an Irish-bred owned by Gary Barber, Brous Stable, and Wachtel Stable. The Irish-bred, now nine, carries 140 pounds and will be ridden by the trainer’s husband, Bernie Dalton. Belisarius most recently was pulled up in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle for novices.
Also at 140 pounds is Armata Stables’ New Member, who is coming back after 22 months on the sidelines. Trained by Fisher, the reigning champion trainer, New Member finished second in Saratoga Race Course’s 2018 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1). Willie McCarthy has the mount.
Here is the field for the Temple Gwathmey Handicap. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Winner Massagot (Fr). 2011 ch. g., Muhaymin—Winnor (Fr), by Lesotho. Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeders: Christian Ballet and Jean Luc Terrieres (Fr). 2019 record: 1-0-0-0, $0.2018 NSA record: 2-1-1-0, $33,000. Pulled up in the 2019 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Won Montpelier’s 2018 Noel Laing Handicap impressively after second in Far Hills ratings handicap, his U.S. debut. Won lower-level handicap at England’s Fontwell Park before export. (133)
Surprising Soul. 2012 b. g., Perfect Soul (Ire)—Elusive Surprise, by Elusive Quality. Owner: Wendy W. Hendriks. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Charles Fipke (Ont.) 2019 record: 4-1-1-0, $133,000. 2018 record: 3-2-1-0, $97,500. 2017 record: 7-3-0-1, $106,500. Won Belmont Park’s 2019 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) by 3¾ lengths, then was sixth in the Grand National (Gr. 1). Finished second in 2019 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr 1) after fourth in Carolina Cup Handicap, his 2019 debut. Won Saratoga’s 2018 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes, then was second in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division. Opened 2018 with dominant victory in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3). (148)
Scorpiancer (Ire). 2009 b. g., Scorpion (Ire)—Janebailey, By Silver Patriarch. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Mary O’Connor (Ire). 2019 record: 4-1-1-0, $177,000. 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: 2-2-0-0, $150,000. Finished second in 2019 Grand National (Gr. 1). Won Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) for a second time in 2019 before fifth in Belmont’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Missed 2018 season and was pulled up in his first 2019 start, the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Claimed 2017 Eclipse Award with victories in Calvin Houghland Iroquois and Temple Gwathmey. Won Belmont Park’s 2016 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). (154)
Iranistan. 2014 dk. b. or br. g., Einstein (Brz)—Miss Vindictive, by Stephen Got Even. Owner: Hudson River Stables. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Crossed Sabres Farm (Ky.) 2019 record: 2-0-0-0, $3,750. 2018 NSA record: 5-3-1-1, $145,000. Champion novice 2018. In first 2019 start, pulled up in Grand National (Gr. 1) after leading early, then was fourth in Aflac Supreme Hurdle for novices. Finished game second in Saratoga’s 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), then was third in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), while favored in both. Won 2018 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices by six lengths. Skipped maiden ranks and won allowance hurdles at Carolina Cup and Middleburg Spring to begin 2018 season. Scored maiden flat victory at Delaware Park in July 2018. (127)
New Member (Ire). 2011 b. g., Alhaarth (Ire)—Sincere, by Buhhare. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Golden Garden Stud. 2019 record: No starts. 2018 NSA record: 4-1-0-2, $94,500. 2017 NSA record: 4-0-1-2, $28,500. Won Saratoga’s 2018 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes by 1 1/2 lengths, then was second in New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1). Began 2018 with thirds in Carolina Cup and Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase, then was sixth in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. Finished second in Belmont Park’s 2017 William Entenmann Novice Stakes after well-beaten third in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Finished third in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Had allowance and handicap wins in England in 2016. (129)
Belisarius (Ire). 2011 b. g., Montjeu—Lasting Chance, by American Chance. Owner: Gary Barber, Brous Stable, and Wachtel Racing Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeders: Lynch Bages Ltd. And Camas Park Stud (Ire). 2019 NSA record: 6-0-1-1, $28,500. 2018 NSA record: 6-2-1-2, $106,200. Finished third in Saratoga’s 2019 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) after 10th in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), then was seventh in Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) and pulled up in Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. In 2019 debut, finished second in Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2), then was ninth in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices. Won 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle by 6¼ lengths. (125)
Rashaan (Ire). 2012 ch. g., Manduro (Ger)—Red Halo (Ire), by Rainbow Quest. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Thomas Garner. Breeder: The Aga Khan’s Studs (Ire). 2019 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $3,000. No starts. Pulled up in 2019 Grand National (Gr. 1), then was fifth in David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial Handicap (Gr. 2). Won the Keelings Irish Strawberry Hurdle in April and then was last of 18 in Galway’s Mervue Hurdle. (143)
Amschel (GB). 2014 b. g., Nathaniel (Ire)—Darinza (Fr), by Dalakhani (Ire). Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Graham Watters. Breeder: Newsells Park Stud (GB). 2019 record: 2-1-0-0, $25,500. 2018 NSA record: 1-0-0-1, $12,500. Won 2019 Noel Laing Handicap after sixth-place finish in Far Hills’ Appleton Ratings Handicap. In only other U.S. start, finished third in division of Far Hills’ 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Won three straight races in Ireland in 2018 before export. (133)
Zanjabeel (GB). 2013 b. g., Aussie Rules—Grain Only, by Machiavellian. Owners: Rosbrian Farm and Meadow Run Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Open. Breeder: Kirsten Rausing (GB). 2019 record: 1-0-0-0, $3,750. 2018 record: 4-2-2-0, $265,500. 2017 NSA record: 2-2-0-0, $120,000. In comeback race, finished fourth in 2019 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial Handicap (Gr. 2). Won 2018 Eclipse Award with victories in Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) and Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Finished second in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) and Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Won Far Hills’ 2017 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, his U.S. debut for former owners and trainer Gordon Elliott. For new owners, won Steeplechase at Callaway’s 2017 Aflac Supreme Hurdle. (150)
Moscato (GB). 2011 gr. or ro. g., Hernando (Fr)—Alba Stella, by Nashwan. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Miss K. Rausing (GB). 2019 record: 4-1-0-2, $105,000. 2018 record: No starts. Novice champion of 2017 returned from a year on the sidelines and won the 2019 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2), then was third in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), eighth in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1), and third in Grand National (Gr. 1). Won Belmont’s 2017 William Entenmann Novice Stakes and Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes impressively after strong closing second in Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. (148)