Two timber champions and two multiple stakes winners are among the 12 nominees to the $30,000 Middleburg Hunt Cup, the featured timber contest of the 98th annual Middleburg Spring Races at Glenwood Park on Saturday, April 21.
The action-packed racing program also features the $75,000 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2), which is expected to attract many of hurdle racing’s top competitors. First post time is 1 p.m.
Charles C. Fenwick Jr.’s Doc Cebu won last year’s timber championship with a dominant campaign that included victories in the International Gold Cup, Genesee Valley Hunt Cup, and Willowdale Steeplechase. The eight-year-old Hard Spun gelding is trained by Jack Fisher.
The sport’s champion trainer for the last six years, Fisher also nominated Two’s Company, the 2016 timber champion owned by Bruton Street-US. Winner of the Middleburg Hunt Cup in his championship season, he fell at the final fence last year.
Also nominated to the 3 1/4-mile Middleburg Hunt Cup from the Fisher stable was Gillian Johnston’s Dye Fore, a pacesetting timber allowance winner at the Steeplechase at Callaway last November.
Last year’s Middleburg Hunt Cup winner, Armata Stables’ Cornhusker, was nominated for a shot at back-to-back victories. After his 5 3/4-length score at the Northern Virginia course, Alicia Murphy-trained Cornhusker won the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Mason Houghland Memorial for a third time.
Maryland-based Armata Stable also was represented in the nominations by Grand Manan, a speedster who won the 2016 International Gold Cup and Genesee Valley. Trained by Billy Meister, Grand Manan most recently finished second to Doc Cebu in the 2017 edition of the International Gold Cup.
Here are the 12 nominees to the $30,000 Middleburg Hunt Cup in alphabetical order.
Albus. 2010 b. g., Student Council—Helene’s Honour, by Honour and Glory. Owner: Four Virginia Gents. Trainer: Doug Fout. Breeder: Marilyn S. Bramlage (Ky.). 2017 record: 3-0-1-0, $4,610. Finished second in Shawan Downs hurdle maiden in September 17 and then was eighth in Virginia Fall hurdle maiden.
Canyon Road. 2009 ch. g., Service Stripe—Observe, by Patton. Owner: Gordonsdale Farm. Trainer: Christopher Kolb. Breeder: Gordonsdale Farm (W.Va.) 2017 record: 4-0-1-0, $6,600. 2016 record: 5-2-0-1, $25,250. Finished fifth in 2017 Radnor Hunt Cup before 10th in Shawan’s Legacy Chase. Opened 2017 season with second in Middleburg Hunt Cup, then was pulled up in Virginia Gold Cup. Finished fourth in Virginia Fall’s 2016 National Sporting Library & Museum Cup before winning timber allowance at Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.
Certain Swagger. 2009 b. g., Arch—Comedy, by Theatrical (Ire). Owner: Jeremy Batoff. Trainer: William Dowling. Breeders: Claiborne Farm and Arlene Dilschneider. (Ky.) 2017 record: 2-0-0-0, $1,250. 2016 record: 4-0-1-2, $9,000. Fell in 2017 New Jersey Hunt Cup and then was a distant fourth in Steeplechase at Callaway timber allowance. Finished ninth in 2016 My Lady’s Manor, then was third in Middleburg Spring’s Alfred M. Hunt steeplechase, second in Winterthur Bowl. Scored 45-length victory in Queen’s Cup timber allowance in 2015.
Cornhusker (GB). 2007 b. g., Dynaformer–Nebraska Tornado, by Storm Cat. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Alicia Murphy. Breeder: Juddmonte Farms (GB). 2017 record: 6-2-2-0, $60,350. 2016 record: 2-0-0-0, $4,500. Ran a confident race in the 2017 Middleburg Hunt Cup and won by 5 3/4 lengths, then finished second in the Winterthur Bowl. Won 2017 Mason Houghland Memorial, his third win in the Iroquois timber stakes, after 2014 and 2015. Finished second in Shawan’s 2017 Legacy Chase, then fifth in National Sporting Library and Museum Cup and fourth in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.
De Chera. 2006 ch. g., Deputy Commander—Torchera, by Pirate’s Bounty. Owner-Trainer: H. Bruce Fenwick. Breeder: Hidden Point Farm (Fla.). 2017 record: 7-1-2-0, $19,650. 2016 record: 2-0-0-0, $750. Awarded win in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup timber allowance on medication disqualification after finishing second by a neck. Fell at last in New Jersey Hunt Cup. Finished fifth in 2017 Shawan Downs maiden timber after sixth in Fair Hill timber allowance and second in Willowdale maiden timber. Finished second in the Grand National’s 2017 Benjamin H. Murray Memorial amateur allowance race, beaten a neck before early fall in Maryland Hunt Cup.
Doc Cebu. 2010 b. g., Hard Spun—Berga, by Jade Hunter. Owner: Charles C. Fenwick Jr. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Graceville Breeding (Ky.) 2017 record: 5-4-1-0, $96,600. 2016 record: 2-2-0-0, $21,000. Clinched 2017 timber championship with 11-length victory in International Gold Cup. Won 2017 Genesee Valley Hunt Cup by 11 1/4 lengths and Willowdale Steeplechase by nine lengths. Opened his timber career with a maiden victory at 2017 My Lady’s Manor and was second in Queen’s Cup timber allowance. Won his two starts over hurdles in 2016.
Dye Fore. 2011 dk. b. or br. g., Giant’s Causeway—Homebound, by Dixie Union. Owner: Gillian Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Joseph Allen (Ky.). 2017 record: 6-1-3-2, $30,600. Broke through for maiden timber victory in 2017 Steeplechase at Callaway allowance. Had second-place finishes at High Hope and Virginia Fall sandwiched around third at Shawan Downs.
Grand Manan. 2009 b. g., Giant’s Causeway—Manoa, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: William Meister. Breeders: Stuart S. Janney III and Phipps Stable (Ky.). 2017 record: 5-0-3-0, $28,500. 2016 record: 4-3-0-0, $82,950. Finished second in 2017 National Sporting Library and Museum Cup and International Gold Cup. Finished fourth in 2017 My Lady’s Manor and was unplaced in Virginia Gold Cup after setting most of pace. Closed 2016 season with back-to-back front-running victories in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup and International Gold Cup.
Le Chevalier. 2009 g. or ro. g., Broken Vow—Orellana, by With Approval. Owner: Michael A. Smith. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Breeder: Haras du Mezeray (Ky.) 2017 record: 1-0-0-1, $3,000. 2016 record: 5-2-1-0, $49,250. Finished third in the 2017 My Lady’s Manor. Won the 2016 New Jersey Hunt Cup by 11 lengths, then was fourth in Steeplechase at Callaway timber allowance. Broke through for a decisive victory in division of John Rush Streett Memorial maiden timber race at 2016 My Lady’s Manor, then was second in Mason Houghland Memorial at Iroquois Steeplechase.
Sol a Pino. 2005 b. g., Dynaformer—Kuda, by Strawberry Road (Aus). Owner-trainer: Nicki Valvo. Breeder: Haras Santa Maria de Araras (Ky.) 2017 record: 2-0-0-0, $600. 2016 record: 3-1-1-0, $3,000. Eased and distanced, respectively, in timber maiden races at 2017 Winterthur and High Hope meets. Finished fourth in 2016 Middleburg Hunt Cup, a race in which he had finished third the previous year.
Top Man Michael (Ire). 2009 b. g., Antonius Plus—Top Brex, by Top Ville. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Breeder: John Egan (Ire). 2017 record: 1-1-0-0, $15,000. 2016 record: 3-1-0-1, $19,000. In only 2017 start, won Winterthur Bowl for second consecutive year. Won 2016 Winterthur Bowl in his first start over timber, then was fourth in Radnor Hunt Cup and third in Callaway timber allowance race.
Two’s Company (Ire). 2009 b. g., Soviet Star—Gaye Lady, by Pistolet Bleu (Ire). Owner: Bruton Street-U.S. Trainer Jack Fisher. Breeders: M. W. and Mrs. M. Doran (Ire). 2017 record: 2-0-0-0, $0. 2016 record: 6-4-2-0, $103,200. Timber champion in 2016. Fell in late stages of 2017 Middleburg Hunt Cup, then was pulled up in Mason Houghland Memorial at Iroquois Steeplechase. Opened 2016 with victories in Middleburg Hunt Cup and Carolina Cup’s C. P. and Edith Wills DuBose Cup, then closed for second in Virginia Gold Cup. Won 2016 Legacy Chase at Shawan Downs and Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup before second in International Gold Cup.