Two’s Company, a four-time winner over timber fences this year and the current leader in the timber standings, leads a compact field of five for Saturday’s $90,000 International Gold Cup, the fall’s richest race over post-and-rail fences.
The richest-ever running of the International Gold Cup highlights an action-filled 10-race program that also includes the $75,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2) over hurdles.
First post time is noon at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains. Pari-mutuel wagering under supervision of the Virginia Racing Commission will be offered on all races.
Two’s Company, owned by Bruton Street-US, is angling to run away with the 2016 timber championship after winning his four wins and finishing second in his only other start. He tops the timber earnings list with $87,000 in the bank.
Trainer Jack Fisher named Sean McDermott for a return engagement on Two’s Company. In his most recent start, the Irish-bred pulled away to a dominant victory in the $40,000 National Sporting Library & Museum Cup at the Virginia Fall Races on Oct. 8. He also won the Middleburg Hunt Cup and was second in the Virginia Gold Cup in the spring.
Looking to pull an upset is Donald Reuwer Jr.’s Grand Manan, who scored easy wins in two most recent starts, the Willowdale Steeplechase in May and the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup earlier this month.
Trainer Billy Meister named Darren Nagle for a return ride on the Giant’s Causeway gelding. Grand Manan likes to go out to the lead early and is the probable pacesetter for the International Gold Cup.
Coming into the International Gold Cup from unplaced finishes in the National Sporting Library are Peter and Sarah Jay’s Prime Prospector, who was fifth, and Armata Stables’ Cornhusker, the seventh finisher. Paddy Young rides Prime Prospector for Todd Wyatt, and trainer Alicia Murphy named Mark Beecher to ride Cornhusker. Michael Wharton’s Grinding Speed, the three-time International Gold Cup winner, was entered for Saturday’s race but was scratched on Wednesday.
Completing the field is Irv Naylor’s Almarmooq, who was seventh in the My Lady’s Manor and fell in the Maryland Hunt Cup. Gerard Galligan will ride for trainer Kathy Neilson.
Here is the field with program odds for the $90,000 International Gold Cup at 3 1/2 miles.
Two’s Company (Ire). 2009 b. g., Soviet Star—Gaye Lady, by Pistolet Bleu (Ire). Owner: Bruton Street-U.S. Trainer Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeders: M. W. and Mrs. M. Doran (Ire). 2016 record: 5-4-1-0, $87,000. 2015 record: 4-1-1-0, $12,600. 6-5 odds. Opened 2016 with victories in Carolina Cup’s C. P. and Edith Wills DuBose Cup and Middleburg Hunt 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.
Prime Prospector. 2008 b. g., Seeking the Gold—Remember Love, by A.P. Indy. Owner: Peter and Sarah Jay. Trainer: Todd Wyatt. Jockey: Paddy Young. Breeder: Woodford Thoroughbreds (Ky.) 2016 record: 3-0-0-0, $3,600. 2015 record: 2-1-0-1, $7,500. 4-1 odds. Finished fifth in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup. Finished fifth in Willowdale Steeplechase after finishing fifth and placed fourth in the Grand National’s Benjamin H. Murray Memorial. Won maiden victory over timber at 2015 Willowdale Steeplechase.
Grand Manan. 2009 b. g., Giant’s Causeway—Manoa, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Donald Reuwer Jr. Trainer: William Meister. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeders: Stuart S. Janney III and Phipps Stable (Ky.). 2016 record: 3-2-0-0, $25,950. 2015 record: 3-2-0-0, $31,050. 2014 record: No starts. 2-1 odds. Finished in dead heat for 2016 Willowdale Steeplechase win after fifth in My Lady’s Manor. Won Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. 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.
Cornhusker (GB). 2007 b. g., Dynaformer–Nebraska Tornado, by Storm Cat. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Alicia Murphy. Jockey: Mark Beecher. Breeder: Juddmonte Farms (GB). 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2015 record: 4-2-0-0, $66,250. 2014 record: 5-2-1-0, $50,300. 8-1 odds. Finished last of seven in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library & Museum Cup. Ended 2014 and 2015 seasons with second-place finishes in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. Finished sixth in 2015 New Jersey Hunt Cup after winning Iroquois’ Mason Houghland Memorial for the second straight year. Won 2015 Middleburg Hunt Cup after sixth-place finish in My Lady’s Manor.
Almarmooq. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Dynaformer–Tuscoga, by Theatrical (Ire). Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Stone Farm (Ky.). 2016 record: 2-0-0-0, $0. 2015 record: 4-1-0-0, $23,250. 2014 record: 6-1-3-0, $23,400. 6-1 odds. Finished seventh in 2016 My Lady’s Manor, then fell in Maryland Hunt Cup. Won 2015 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. Finished sixth in Willowdale Steeplechase after late fall in Maryland Hunt Cup. Finished distant fourth in Grand National. Capped busy 2014 fall season with victory in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup’s Arthur O. Choate Jr. timber allowance.