Eight timber newcomers will line up Saturday in the $30,000 Valentine Memorial Novice Timber Stakes, the featured contest of the 47th annual Fair Hill Spring Races.
The Fair Hill Spring Races annually kick off the Memorial Day weekend in northern Maryland, and pari-mutuel wagering will be offered under the supervision of the Maryland Racing Commission.
Also on the eight-race program are a $30,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle, a $25,000 Ratings Handicap Hurdle, and a $20,000 maiden hurdle limited to fillies and mares. First post time is 1 p.m.
The 3 1/8-mile Valentine Memorial is restricted to horses who have not won over timber fences in 2015, and all of the nominees are shooting for their first timber victories. Champion trainer Jack Fisher entered Woodslane Farm’s Brave Prospect, who is coming back from a long layoff. In his first start over timber fences, he fell in the 2013 New Jersey Hunt Cup. Sean McDermott will ride.
Several Valentine nominees began their timber careers this year. Alicia Murphy, the sport’s leading timber trainer by wins and earnings this year, entered Achsah O’Donovan’s West Is Best, who had second-place finishes on consecutive weekends this month at Winterthur and Willowdale. Leading timber jockey Mark Beecher has the mount.
Coming into the Valentine Memorial from the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Mason Houghland Memorial on May 9 are Black and Blue Stable’s Monstaleur, who finished fourth for trainer Blythe Miller Davies, and Rosbrian Farm’s Class Brahms, who was fifth. Lia McGuirk will ride Monstaleur, and trainer Tara Elmore tabbed leading jockey Paddy Young to ride Class Brahms.
George Mahoney Jr.’s Rosbrian Farm also will be represented by Atlantic Ocean, an Irish-bred who finished second in a Queen’s Cup timber allowance race on April 25. Trainer Paddy Neilson named Jack Doyle, currently leading the rider standings by purse earnings, to ride.
Diane Gillam will ride Kinross Farm’s Saint Dynaformer for trainer Neil Morris. At the Willowdale Steeplechase in Kennett Square, Pa., on May 10, Saint Dynaformer finished third in a maiden timber contest.
Billy Meister will put Fritz Boniface in the saddle to ride Donald Reuwer Jr.’s Grand Manan, who will be making his timber debut. Also debuting over timber is Small Giants Stable’s Air Maggy, making his first start in more than two years. Air Maggy is trained by Keri Brion, and Young has a double call.
Here is the field for the $30,000 Valentine Memorial in post-position order.
Class Brahms. 2008 b. g., Brahms–Class Babe, by Class Secret. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Tara Elmore. Jockey: Paddy Young. Breeder: Mede Cahaba Stable and Stud (Va.). 2015 record: 2-0-0-1, $4,000. 2014 record: 2-0-0-1, $1,500. Finished fifth in Iroquois Steeplechase’s Mason Houghland Memorial on May 9 after third in Grand National timber allowance on April 18. In his 2014 debut, finished third in a My Lady’s Manor timber maiden race.
Saint Dynaformer. 2007 b. g., Dynaformer—Saintly Action, by Saint Ballado. Owner: Kinross Farm. Trainer: Neil R. Morris. Jockey: Diana Gillam. Breeder: Carlwood Farms (Ky.). 2015 record: 2-0-0-1, $2,000. Finished third in Willowdale maiden timber race on May 10 after fourth in My Lady’s Manor’s John D. Schapiro amateur allowance timber in his debut over timber.
Brave Prospect. 2007 b. g., Purge—Issaqueena, by Mr. Prospector. Owner: Woodslane Farm. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Stonerside Stable (Ky.) 2014 record: No starts. Fell at the first fence of the 2013 New Jersey Hunt Cup, his inaugural run over timber. Won a 2013 starter allowance over hurdles at the Virginia Gold Cup and finished second in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial starter stakes. Finished fifth in the 2013 A.P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) before being pulled up in New York Turf Writers (Gr. 1).
Atlantic Ocean (Ire). 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Oscar—Melodic Tune, by Roselier. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Paddy Neilson. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: John Meagher (Ire). 2015 record: 2-0-1-0, $4,350. Finished distant second in a Queen’s Cup timber allowance after fourth in his timber debut, the first division of the John Rush Streett maiden timber at My Lady’s Manor on April 11.
West Is Best. 2009 dk. b. or br. g., War Chant—Marisa Mia, by Miner’s Mark. Owner: Achsah O’Donovan. Trainer: Alicia Murphy. Jockey: Mark Beecher. Breeder: Dr. S. Mark Rayburg (Pa.) 2015 record 2-0-2-0, $5,400. Finished second in his timber debut at Winterthur on May 3 and then was second in Willowdale maiden timber on May 10. Maiden on flat and over hurdles.
Grand Manan. 2009 b. g., Giant’s Causeway—Manoa, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Donald Reuwer Jr. Trainer: William Meister. Jockey: Fritz Boniface. Breeders: Stuart S. Janney III and Phipps Stable (Ky.). 2014 record: No starts. By top sire but failed on the flat, managing a third in an $8,000 maiden claimer at Delaware Park, his most recent start in 2012.
Air Maggy. 2006 gr. or ro. g., Sky Mesa—Might Mags, by Wild Again. Owner: Small Giants Stable. Trainer: Keri Brion. Jockey: Paddy Young. Breeder: John C. Oxley (Ky.). 2015 record: No starts. Making timber debut after long layoff, since 2013 flat race at Tampa Bay Downs. Had maiden flat win in 2009 and maiden hurdle win in 2010.
Monstaleur. 2007 ch. g., Meadow Monster—Taleur, by Stalwars. Owner: Black and Blue Stable. Trainer: Blythe Miller Davies. Jockey: Lia McGuirk. Breeder: Dr. James E. Bryant and Linda P. Davis (Va.). 2015 record: 2-0-0-0, $3,100. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $750. Finished fourth in Iroquois Steeplechase’s Mason Houghland Memorial after fifth in second division of John Rush Streett maiden timber race at My Lady’s Manor on April 11. In only 2014 start, finished fourth in Streett.