Timber racing will be in the spotlight on Saturday, Oct. 9, at the 82nd annual Genesee Valley Hunt Races in Geneseo, N.Y., and at the 31st annual Morven Park Steeplechase in Leesburg, Va.
Irvin S. Naylor’s Patriot’s Path, the reigning National Steeplechase Association timber champion, will take on a tough field in the $25,000 Genesee Valley Hunt Cup over 3 1/2 miles, and Kingwood Gould Jr.’s Comanche Station carries the 165-pound high weight in the featured allowance race over 3 1/4 miles. Also on the Morven Park program, 2009 Eclipse Award winner Mixed Up returns to competition in a training flat race.
Patriot’s Path, trained by Desmond Fogarty, will be making his second start of the fall season, following a fifth-place finish in the Ski Roundtop Trophy, the featured timber race of the Races at Shawan Downs in Hunt Valley, Md., on Sept. 25. The 10-year-old Carnivalay gelding previously had finished third in the $75,000 Virginia Gold Cup at The Plains, Va., on May 1.
Lucy A. Goelet’s Twill Do will be making his first start since a five-length triumph in the historic Maryland Hunt Cup on April 24. Trained by Billy Meister, the 10-year-old Yarrow Brae gelding has shown an affinity for the Genesee Valley course. He won an allowance race by eight lengths in 2008 and returned last year to finish second in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. He will be ridden by James Slater.
Also entering the Genesee Valley from the Maryland timber classics are Mrs. George L. Ohrstrom Jr.’s Professor Maxwell and Armata Stables’ Haddix. Professor Maxwell, trained by Richard Valentine, lost his rider in the $75,000 Maryland Hunt Cup after finishing sixth in the Grand National at Butler, Md., on April 17. Haddix, trained by Kathy N. McKenna, finished third in the My Lady’s Manor at Monkton, Md., on April 10 and then was seventh in the Grand National.
McKenna’s father, trainer Louis Neilson III, will saddle Rosbrian Farm’s The Other Me, who lost his rider in the Willowdale Steeplechase in Kennett Square, Pa., on May 9. In his previous start, he finished second in the Lewis C. Ledyard timber race at the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup in November 2009.
In the Morven Park allowance, nine-year-old Comanche Station will be shooting for his second straight victory, following a maiden timber triumph in a division of the Landhope Cup at Willowdale.
The Landhope was the Yarrow Brae gelding’s first start in more than two years. In his previous start, he finished third in the Western Run Plate at the Grand National meet. Jockey Jody Petty returns aboard Comanche Station for trainer Todd Wyatt.
Looking for his first victory of 2010 is Naylor’s Bow Strada, who finished a good second in the Alfred M. Hunt steeplechase at the Middleburg Spring Races on April 17. The 13-year-old veteran is trained by Kristin Close.
Also seeking his first win of the season is owner-trainer Bay Cockburn’s I’m Telling, who was third in the Alfred M. Hunt. At the Virginia Fall Races last October, the nine-year-old Linkage gelding opened a huge lead in the Virginia Beach Memorial and won by 46 1/2 lengths. Jacob Roberts has the mount.
Current leading jockey Paddy Young was named to ride Perry J. Bolton’s Arch Hero, who will be making his debut over timber fences. Trained by Tom Voss, the five-year-old Arch gelding was pulled up in his most recent start, the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on July 29.
In the race before the allowance contest, reigning National Steeplechase Association champion Mixed Up will start in a full field for the 1 1/4-mile flat race.
Bill Pape’s 11-year-old Carnivalay gelding will be preparing for the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at the Far Hills Races in New Jersey on Oct. 23. Mixed Up has two fifth-place finishes this year, in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at Middleburg and the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) at Nashville on May 8. Danielle Hodsdon will ride for trainer Jonathan Sheppard.
Among Mixed Up’s opponents in that division will be Country Cousin and Dictina’s Boy, both of whom are preparing for the $100,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle for novices at Far Hills. Oakwood Stable’s Country Cousin won the National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) in his most recent start at the Radnor Hunt Races in Malvern, Pa., on May 16. Dictina’s Boy, owned by Riverdee Stable, won the Appleton Stakes at Far Hills last year and was second in this year’s Marcellus Frost (Gr. 3) at Nashville.
In the other division of the flat race, Armata’s Dynaski will be preparing for the Grand National, the richest race on the 2010 National Steeplechase Association schedule. The seven-year-old Dynaformer gelding, who has not started over fences this year, won the 2009 Ben Nevis at Saratoga and then finished second in the Lonesome Glory (Gr. 1) at Belmont Park. Trainer Voss named Young to ride.