Trainer Todd Wyatt maintained his torrid spring pace with two wins at Sunday’s Willowdale Steeplechase, including a victory by Raven’s Choice in the featured $25,000 Willowdale Steeplechase over the Kennett Square, Pa., meet’s steeplechase course.
Owned by Mrs. Cary W. Jackson, Raven’s Choice prevailed by three-quarters of a length over Jeremy Batoff’s Major Malibu after the Willowdale Steeplechase’s 3 1/2 miles. Bruton Street-US’s City Press finished third, and Irv Naylor’s Prince Ludovic was fourth. Raven’s Choice, winner of the Grand National’s Benjamin H. Murray Memorial amateur timber allowance race on April 19, ran the Willowdale Steeplechase’s distance in 7:59.80 on yielding turf under Mark Beecher.
Wyatt also scored with Armata Stables’ Brother Sy, who won the Foxhunters Chase amateur apprentice timber race under Diana Gillam. Naylor’s Amarmooq finished second, 1 1/2 lengths back.
The Willowdale double gave Maryland-based Wyatt six wins for the 2014 season, doubling his total for all of 2013. He remained two behind 2013 co-leading trainer Jack Fisher and one ahead of Cyril Murphy, who won Willowdale’s Rose Tree Cup conditioned claiming hurdle with Naylor’s American Ladie.
Although he was blanked at Willowdale, Willie McCarthy netted the hat trick at the Iroquois Steeplechase, including a score aboard Bill Pape’s champion Divine Fortune in the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), and opened a big lead on his fellow jockeys. For the season, he has 12 wins. His closest competitor is reigning champion Paddy Young, who has five wins after single victories at Iroquois and Willowdale.