The National Steeplechase Association’s 2013 timber championship will be at stake in the $50,000 International Gold Cup, the richest timber race of the NSA’s fall championship season, on Saturday, Oct. 19.
The feature contest of the 30th annual International Gold Cup meet drew a field of seven, and three starters have a chance to claim the prestigious title.
First post time is 1:30 p.m. for the International Gold Cup’s six-race program at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains, Va. Pari-mutuel wagering will be available on all races.
Undoubtedly the most intriguing member of the field is leading owner Irvin S. Naylor’s Tax Ruling, who was second in the Eclipse Award voting in 2011 after two Grade 1 victories over hurdles.
The 10-year-old Dynaformer gelding made a successful transition to timber racing this past spring and tuned for the International Gold Cup with a victory in Shawan Downs’ Legacy Chase, a timber allowance race on Sept. 28.
Leading timber trainer William Meister named James Slater to ride Tax Ruling, who has $30,000 in earnings from two victories and one second-place finish this year. The International Gold Cup’s $30,000 first-place purse would move him past Grinding Speed, the Virginia Gold Cup winner who leads the timber standings with $46,200.
Tax Ruling is fourth in the timber standings, immediately behind Harold A. “Sonny” Via’s Worried Man, who finished seventh in the Legacy Chase. Most of his earnings came in an upset victory in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s $50,000 Mason Houghland Memorial on May 11. Jack Fisher, last year’s champion trainer, named Gus Dahl to ride.
Also in the mix for the championship is Fisher-trained Straight to It, who is owned by Sheila Williams and Andre Brewster. Straight to It, the 2012 New Jersey Hunt Cup winner, finished second in the Legacy Chase, three-quarters of a length behind Tax Ruling. Mark Beecher, who has won the last two editions of the International Gold Cup, will ride.
Alfred C. Griffin Jr.’s Aero will be looking for a trip to the winner’s enclosure after two second-place finishes in the International Gold Cup in the past two years. The timber veteran tuned with a third-place finish in the Legacy Chase, his first start of the year. Trainer Doug Fout named Martin Rohan to ride.
Kinross Farm’s Old Timer will be ridden by Christopher Read in the 3 1/2-mile International Gold Cup. Trained by Neil Morris, Old Timer led by seven lengths at the last fence of the Virginia Fall Races’ National Sporting Museum Chronicle Cup on Oct. 5 but was overtaken and finished second.
Bruce Fenwick tapped Kieran Norris to ride Merriefield Farm’s Foyle, who was tenth in the Legacy Chase. George Hundt Jr. will be aboard Lucy Stable’s Justpourit, who will be making his first start for trainer Julie Gomena. Justpourit most recently finished second in the Willowdale Steeplechase in Pennsylvania on May 12.