Alfred C. Griffin Jr.’s Aero will be seeking to improve on last year’s second-place finish when he meets a well-matched field in the 75th anniversary running of the $50,000 International Gold Cup, the feature race of the International Gold Cup meet at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains on Saturday, Oct. 20. First post time for the 29th annual International Gold Cup meet is 1:30 p.m.
Trained by Middleburg-based horseman Doug Fout, Aero will be seeking his first win of the year in the 3 1/2-mile International Gold Cup over timber fences. He most recently finished fourth in the $35,000 National Sporting Library Chronicle Cup at the Virginia Fall Races in Middleburg on Oct. 6.
In his previous start on the Great Meadow course, Aero finished fifth in the Virginia Gold Cup on May 5. Christopher Read will ride.
Challenging the veteran timber horse will be Michael T. Wharton’s Grinding Speed, a newcomer to timber racing who finished a good second in the Chronicle Cup. He also was second in the $15,000 Legacy Chase at Maryland’s Shawan Downs on Sept. 29. He had two victories and a second this spring.
Alicia Murphy trains the six-year-old Grindstone gelding, who will be ridden by Mark Beecher, winning jockey aboard Incomplete in last year’s International Gold Cup.
Owner-trainer Karen Gray entered Hot Rize, who finished sixth in the Chronicle Cup. Gus Dahl will ride.
Blythe Miller Davies will saddle Gerry L. Brewster’s Brands Hatch, who won the Western Run Plate timber allowance at Maryland’s Grand National on April 21 before finishing second in the Willowdale Steeplechase at Kennett Square, Pa., on May 13. Jackson Roberts has the mount.
Seeking her first victory of the year will be Wally Pinkard’s Won Wild Bird, who finished fifth in the $25,000 Genesee Valley Hunt Cup on Oct. 13. Trained by Regina Welsh, Won Wild Bird finished fifth in the Radnor Hunt Cup, a race the ten-year-old Wild Wonder mare won in 2011. Roddy Mackenzie will ride.
Owner-trainer Jack Fisher’s Monte Bianco, returning to the races after a nearly four-year absence, ran ninth in the Radnor Hunt Cup and improved to fourth in Shawan’s Legacy Chase. Willie McCarthy has the mount.