Magalen O. Bryant’s Ptarmigan, a four-year-old filly who scored two impressive victories this spring, will take on an experienced field that includes recent stakes winner Sweet Shani in the $30,000 Valentine Memorial, the featured race of the 42nd annual Fair Hill Races on Saturday, May 29.
The 2 1/4-mile Valentine Memorial, a part of the Sport of Kings series for fillies and mares, headlines a eight-race race program at the historic race course in northeast Maryland. First post time is 1 p.m.
Mrs. Calvin Houghland’s Sweet Shani scored a decisive victory in the $50,000 Margaret Currey Henley Stakes at the Iroquois Races in Nashville, Tenn., on May 8. Ridden by Danielle Hodsdon, the ten-year-old New Zealand-bred mare edged away after the final fence to a 3 1/4-length score over Diva Maria. Trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, Sweet Shani will carry 147 pounds under the Valentine’s allowance conditions, and Hodsdon again will be in the saddle.
Ptarmigan, trained by Doug Fout, kicked off her 2010 season with a 10 3/4-length victory in the $15,000 Stoneybrook Cup, a maiden race over National Fences on April 3. The Unbridled Jet filly then rolled away to a 14 1/4-length win in the featured $25,000 Daniel Van Clief Memorial at the Foxfield Spring Races in Charlottesville, Va., on April 24.
Ptarmigan was pulled up in the Henley when jockey Jeff Murphy’s saddle slipped. Murphy again will ride Ptarmigan, who carries scale weight of 143 pounds.
Carrying the 155-pound high weight under the Valentine’s conditions is Flying Horse Farm’s Farah T Salute, who closed out the 2009 season with two victories, including the Palm Beach Filly and Mare Hurdle Stakes in Palm Beach, Fla., on Nov. 28. Trained by Jazz Napravnik, the seven-year-old mare most recently finished third in a $25,000 allowance race at the Tanglewood Cup Steeplechase in Clemmons, N.C., on May 8. Jacob Roberts again has the mount.
Returning for another chance of catching Sweet Shani and Ptarmigan is Arcadia Stable’s Diva Maria, who will be ridden by Xavier Aizpuru. In addition to finishing second behind Sweet Shani, the five-year-old Maria’s Mon mare finished fifth in the Van Clief when she tired in her first 2010 start.
Also coming into the Valentine from the Henley are Octoraro Stables’ Dynaskill and Jellyberry, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively. Both eight-year-old mares are trained by Bruce Miller and carry 143 pounds. Champion jockey Paddy Young has the mount on Jellyberry, and Jody Petty rides Dynaskill in the Valentine, which drew a field of ten.