My Lady’s Manor, Tryon Block House recap: A day for doubles

Two was the lucky number as six trainers and riders each came away with a pair of winners on Saturday’s doubleheader in North Carolina and Maryland. Plus, former timber champion Tomgarrow made his long-awaited return and captured the $50,000 My Lady’s Manor Stakes for the second straight year.

Riverdee Stable’s Gordon’s Jet won the featured Block House ratings handicap hurdle at Tryon on Saturday. Jamie Bargary rode the winner. ©Tod Marks

by Tod Marks

Starting the season as he did last year, Leipers Fork Steeplechasers’ 2021 timber champion Tomgarrow overpowered duel Maryland Hunt Cup star Vintage Vinnie in the feature race of the weekend to kick off the Maryland Timber Triple with an exclamation point.

With Freddie Procter in the irons for leading trainer Leslie Young, Tomgarrow was content to patiently sit behind the Armata Stable’s juggernaut, who spurted off to a lead of as much as a dozen lengths in the field of four. Approaching the 14th fence in the three-mile contest, Tomgarrow assumed command and extended his margin to 19 lengths under a vigorous hand ride. Vintage Vinnie, ridden by trainer Joe Davies’ son, Teddy, was another 19 lengths clear of Upland Partners’ veteran stakes winner Mystic Strike.

Both the winner and runner up came into the Manor off of layoffs dating back to last spring, but with lofty records. Since coming stateside in 2018, Vintage Vinnie had made eight starts, with five victories, two seconds and a third. He captured the My Lady’s Manor stakes in 2021 as a prelude to his first of two record-setting Hunt Cup scores. Prior to Saturday’s race, the 14-year-old hadn’t lost since November 2020. Meanwhile, Tomgarrow had taken three of his previous four efforts, including the International Gold Cup at Great Meadow and the 2022 My Lady’s Manor.

The My Lady’s Manor was the first of three timber races at increasing distances. The second leg, the Grand National, will be contested on April 22 in Butler, at 3 1/4 miles. The crown jewel is the 126th running of the  Maryland Hunt Cup on April 29 in Glyndon, at 4 miles worth $100,000.

Tomgarrow’s performance aside, there was plenty of congratulations to go around following Saturday’s action. Jockeys Procter, Barry Foley, and Graham Watters each won two of the nine events over both courses, as did trainers Young and Hall of Famer Jack Fisher. Fisher’s former longtime assistant, Sandra Webb, who struck out on her own with a two-horse stable, won with both of those runners as well. Owner Riverdee Stable won a pair, too.

Here’s a rundown of the results, starting with The Manor:

The four-race card included two $20,000 maiden contests and a $15,000 allowance event for apprentice riders, all at three miles. In the John Rush Streett maiden, new Irish rider Conor Tierney picked up his first victory in his fourth mount, aboard Armata Stable’s Fashion Line for trainer Kathy Neilson. The seven-year-old son of Morning Line showed the way over the first 14 fences before losing the lead to Irvin Crawford’s To Be Or Not To Be, under Teddy Davies, two jumps from home. But Fashion Line fought back in a spirited battle to the wire, prevailing by 1 1/4 lengths.

While the Streett was a nailbiter, the Thomas H. Voss maiden was a blowout as Tuscany Racing’s Stolen Shoes gave Leslie Young her seventh score of the spring, romping by 25 lengths, under Procter. The British-bred led from the flag drop and fended off a challenge by Armata Stable’s Mr. Fine Threads (Teddy Davies up), before drawing clear before the last fence.

South Branch Equine’s Master Seville, trained by Mark Beecher, made it two straight over Nancy Reed’s Awesome Adrian, only this time without the intervention of the stewards. Sitting in third from the break of the John D. Schapiro allowance, Master Seville waited patiently until hitting the stretch to make his move, then unleashed a strong drive to surge past his foe, under Brett Owings, to get up for the three-quarter length tally.  At the Cheshire races in Pennsylvania last month, Awesome Adrian was the winner by the same margin only to be disqualified for going off course.

And at Tryon…

Saturday’s 75th Tryon Block House races in Columbus, N.C., showcased Irish-bred Gordon’s Jet,  a seven-year-old making his NSA debut for Riverdee Stable and trainer Jack Fisher in the featured $30,000 Block House handicap for horses rated at 120 or less at 2 miles, the distance of all four hurdle races over the Green Creek course.

A four-time winner in 19 starts in the UK, Gordon’s Jet and jockey Jamie Bargary tracked Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Tease and Seize, the race leader with Tom Garner in the saddle, for the first mile and a half, rallied heading to the final fence, and drew clear of Animal Kingston by 3 1/2 lengths at the finish.

In the opener, the $20,000 Cannon Harmon maiden claimer, it was Fisher’s former assistant Sandra Webb in the spotlight with Northwoods Stable’s Whisky Warrior, a New York-bred four-year-old son of Phipps turf star Point of Entry, making his first start since coming off of the flat. Reserved at the back of the field, Whisky Warrior and Barry Foley began picking off horses after the seventh hurdle and edged clear through the stretch over a gutsy pacesetter, Del Rio Racing’s Tiger to Remember (Bernie Dalton up), by 1 1/4 lengths.

Fisher found the winner’s circle again one race later in the $20,000 Tryon Riding & Hunt Club maiden hurdle with Merriebelle Stable’s Beat Le Bon. A seven-year-old French-bred, Beat Le Bon, ridden by Graham Watters, was coming off of a strong second to last year’s leading three-year-old Topic Changer in his seasonal bow at Aiken last month. On Saturday, Beat Le Bon broke on top, was never headed, and coasted by 31 lengths. Hickory Made Stables and Celtic Venture Stable’s Eye of Gunfighter and Gerard Galligan were second best in the field.

Next, it was Webb and Foley’s turn again, this time with Riverdee Stable’s Seizing the Dream in the $20,000 Carter P. Brown conditioned claiming hurdle. The five-year-old son of Carpe Diem stalked Leipers Fork Steeplechasers Captain Middleton and Mason Hardaway Lampton’s Three O One, the pro-tem leaders, made his move at the eighth fence, and widened his margin to about five lengths through the stretch. Ashwell Stable’s Top Brass and Mikey Hamill were second. The victory was the second in a row for Seizing the Dream, who finished out 2022 with a win in a claimer at Callaway Gardens.

Though only three horses went to the post in the 1 1/2-mile training flat finale, it was a rousing finish between James Stainbrook, Vincent Bonanni, and Pathfinder Racing’s Dante’s Fire, who edged Brownland Farm’s L’Or des Roses by the narrowest of margins. With Graham Watters riding for trainer Neil Morris, Dante’s Fire, a veteran New York flat runner and winner of $165,000, and L’Or des Roses (Gerard Galligan) were content to lag far behind The Fields Stable’s Circus. But turning for home, the duo rallied and dueled nose to nose through the lane.

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