Two Grade 1 winners over hurdles—including two-time Calvin Houghland Iroquois winner Tax Ruling—and a former timber racing champion will line up Saturday for the $50,000 Mason Houghland Memorial, the featured timber race of the 75th annual Iroquois Steeplechase.
Irv Naylor’s Tax Ruling always runs well at Nashville’s Percy Warner Park. In addition to 2010 and 2011 victories in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s signature race over National Fences, he has finished second in the three-mile Mason Houghland Memorial three straight times.
Top timber trainer Billy Meister will put 2014 champion jockey Willie McCarthy in the saddle for a chance to reach the winner’s circle after the string of second-place finishes.
As always, the task will be formidable. Trying timber fences for the first time will be Magalen O. Bryant’s Gustavian, winner of the 2013 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) at Belmont Park.
Also no stranger to Percy Warner Park, the 10-year-old Giant’s Causeway gelding finished second in the 2014 Calvin Houghland Iroquois. Five-time champion jockey Paddy Young will ride for his wife, trainer Leslie Young.
Another newcomer to timber racing is Bruton Street-US’s The Nephew, a versatile Irish-bred making his second timber start. Champion trainer Jack Fisher named Connor Hankin to ride.
Holston Hall’s Hot Rize will be attempting to regain top form after winning the 2014 timber championship. Trained by Holston Hall partner Russell Haynes, Hot Rize will be ridden by Gerard Galligan in his first 2016 start.
Gus Dahl, a native of nearby Franklin, has blossomed into a top timber rider at age 21 and won last week’s Virginia Gold Cup aboard Naylor’s Ebanour.
He was the winning rider in the 2013 Mason Houghland Memorial, and his mount this year is Waterbaby Racing’s Class Indian for Tennessee-based trainer Ted Thompson. Class Indian won the featured timber race at the Queen’s Cup Steeplechase near Charlotte, N.C., on April 30.
Here is the field for the $50,000 Mason Houghland Memorial.
Tax Ruling. 2003 dk. b. or br. g., Dynaformer–Fantastic Find, by Mr. Prospector. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: William Meister. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Phipps Stable (Ky.) 2015 record: 4-0-2-1, $21,000. 2014 record: 2-0-1-0, $9,900. Set pace in New Jersey Hunt Cup and fought back to finish second. Eighth in Shawan’s Legacy Chase after third straight second-place finish in Iroquois’ Mason Houghland Memorial. Opened 2015 season with third in My Lady’s Manor. Two-time Iroquois (Gr. 1) winner.
Grand Manan. 2009 b. g., Giant’s Causeway—Manoa, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Donald Reuwer Jr. Trainer: William Meister. Jockey: Fritz Boniface. Breeders: Stuart S. Janney III and Phipps Stable (Ky.). 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,200. 2015 record: 3-2-0-0, $31,050. 2014 record: No starts. Finished fifth in 2016 My Lady’s Manor. Closed 2015 campaign with runaway victory in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup timber allowance. In first start in more than two years, won Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial Novice Timber by seven lengths, then was sixth in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup.
Brother Sy. 2005 b. g., Syncline—Cozzy Rhythm, by Cozzene. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Todd Wyatt. Jockey: Open. Breeders: Mr. & Mrs. Randolph L. Rolfe (Pa.). 2015 record: 5-0-2-0, $10,100. 2014 record: 6-2-2-1, $18,900. Finished second in timber allowance at 2015 Steeplechase at Callaway and also had second in Middleburg Spring’s steeplechase allowance. Ended 2014 with third-place finish in Colonial Cup’s Springdale open timber after seconds in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup and Far Hills’ New Jersey Hunt Cup.
Class Indian. 2007 gr. or ro. g., Waquoit—Class Story, by Class Secret. Owner: Waterbaby Racing. Trainer: Ted Thompson. Jockey: Gus Dahl. Breeder: Mede Cahaba Stable and Stud (Va.). 2016 record: 2-1-0-1, $14,000. 2015 record: 4-1-0-2, $14,000. 2014 record: No starts. Won 2016 Queen’s Cup timber allowance after third in Carolina Cup’s C. P. and Edith Wills DuBose Cup for second straight year. Won maiden timber race at 2015 Shawan Downs.
The Nephew (Ire). 2008 b. g., Indian River (Fr)—Charlottine, by Spectrum. Owner: Bruton Street (US). Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Connor Hankin. Breeder: Nicholas Teehan. 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2015 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $21,000. Versatile Irish-bred import went off course in division of John Rush Streett Memorial, his first start over timber, at 2016 My Lady’s Manor. Won Ratings Handicap over hurdles at Far Hills in October 2015 before finishing ninth in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1).
Le Chevalier. 2009 g. or ro. g., Broken Vow—Orellana, by With Approval. Owner: Otter Racing. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Haras du Mezeray (Ky.) 2016 record: 1-1-0-0, $9,000. 2015 record: 2-0-1-1, $4,200. Broke through for a decisive victory in division of John Rush Streett Memorial maiden timber race at 2016 My Lady’s Manor. Finished second in same race a year earlier.
Hot Rize. 2004 dk. b. or br. g., Sultry Song—Donesia, by Desert Wine. Owner: Holston Hall. Trainer: Russell Haynes. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Anne Haynes (Ky.) 2015 record: 5-0-0-0, $5,100. 2014 record: 4-2-0-1, $79,400. Unplaced in five 2015 starts. Clinched 2014 timber championship with half-length score in Far Hills’ New Jersey Hunt Cup. Won the Virginia Gold Cup at odds of 10.70-1. Closed season with third in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.
Gustavian. 2006 b. g., Giant’s Causeway–Mossflower, by Affirmed. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Paddy Young. Breeder: Whitewood Stable (Ky.) 2015 record: 2-0-1-0, $9,000. 2014 record: 2-0-2-0, $36,000. Returned to races in 2015 with second in International Gold Cup’s David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3), then was pulled up in the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). Finished second in 2014 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at Middleburg Spring Races and Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Finished second in 2013 Grand National (Gr. 1) after winning Belmont’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1).
Carrickboy (Ire). 2004 b. g., Silver Patriarch—Alaskan Princess, by Prince Rupert. Owner: Morning Star Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: McLane Hendriks. Breeder: B. and I. McClelland (Ire). 2016 record: 1-0-1-0, $2,700. 2015 record: No starts. 2014 NSA record: No starts. In first start since late 2014, finished second in John D. Schapiro amateur apprentice allowance race at My Lady’s Manor. Won at 2013 Cheltenham Festival.