Magalen O. Bryant’s Dakota Slew, who opened his 2013 season with a third-place finish against some of American Steeplechasing’s top timber horses, will wheel right back into the $15,000 Willowdale Steeplechase, the featured event of the 21st annual Willowdale Steeplechase at Kennett Square, Pa., on Sunday, May 12.
First post time will be 1:30 p.m. for the six-race program, which attracted large fields.
The Willowdale Steeplechase, a 3 1/2-mile trip over the steeplechase course, proved to be especially competitive and well-matched. Trained by Richard Valentine, Dakota Slew took the show spot in the $75,000 Virginia Gold Cup on May 4. He closed out the 2012 season with a victory in a Pennsylvania Hunt Cup timber allowance race.
The six-year-old Slew City Slew gelding will be ridden by Mark Beecher, who has won the Maryland Hunt Cup (on recently retired Professor Maxwell) and Virginia Gold Cup (on Grinding Speed) on successive weekends.
Valentine also will saddle Lucy Stable’s Justpourit, who finished fifth in the Grand National, middle jewel of Maryland’s timber triple crown, on April 20. George Hundt Jr. will ride.
Trainer Kathy Neilson made a late decision to enter Armata Stables’ Embarrassed in the Winterthur Bowl, and the move paid off when the eight-year-old Flatter gelding finished second on May 5. He is no stranger to Willowdale and won the Marshall S. Jenney maiden timber race last year. Cormac Farrell will ride Embarrassed in the Willowdale Steeplechase, which is limited to amateur jockeys.
Gerry L. Brewster’s Brands Hatch, a seasoned timber veteran, lost his rider in the Maryland Hunt Cup after a sixth-place finish in the Grand National. Trainer Blythe Miller Davies tapped Nick Carter to ride the 12-year-old A.P. Indy gelding.
Trainer Billy Meister will saddle Mrs. William D. Class Jr.’s And the Eagle Flys and Black Diamond Stable’s Idol Maker. Winner of the 2012 Grand National, And the Eagle Flys was pulled up in this year’s running. Idol Maker finished second in a Grand National timber allowance.
Jack Fisher, who reigned as champion trainer and champion timber trainer last year, entered Northwoods Stable’s Eye Said Scat Cat, who finished fifth in the My Lady’s Manor, kickoff race for Maryland’s timber triple, and a well-beaten sixth in the Virginia Gold Cup’s Steeplethon. Connor Hankin will ride.