A nine-race doubleheader is on tap for Saturday as timber specialists head to Monkton, Md., while hurdlers travel toward the mountains of Western North Carolina for the 75th Tryon Block House races in Columbus.
by Tod Marks
The historic Maryland Timber Triple gets underway in Monkton, about 30 miles north of Baltimore, with the $50,000 My Lady’s Manor Stakes, the marquee event on the four race, $105,000 card. The race, first contested in 1902, has drawn an accomplished and familiar field of five led by local legend Vintage Vinnie, a winner of four straight on the Maryland timber circuit over the past two years, and who at age 14 begins his quest for his third consecutive victory in the Maryland Hunt Cup, the final and most demanding leg of the series on April 29.
Vintage Vinnie, owned by Armata Stable and trained by Joe Davies, brings a 10 for 31 lifetime record into the 3-mile contest. All but eight of those starts took place in Europe, including stops at Aintree and Cheltenham. Since coming stateside in 2018, the meticulously handled son of Vinnie Roe has 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. Teddy Davies, the trainer’s son who piloted Vintage Vinnie in last year’s Hunt Cup, returns for the mount.
But if Vintage Vinnie is going to make his return a successful one, he’ll not only have to come off a layoff, but contend with a small yet formidable field. Leipers Fork Steeplechasers’ Tomgarrow, the 2021 NSA timber champion, has been off for nearly as long as Vintage Vinnie, but was an easy winner of last year’s running of the My Lady’s Manor for trainer Leslie Young.
Mystic Strike, Upland Partners’ durable seven-time stakes winner of more than $300,000, tuned up for Saturday’s race with a distant second to Court Ruler – Tomgarrow’s Leipers Fork stablemate – in his seasonal bow at Cheshire for trainer Todd McKenna. Now 14, Mystic Strike ended 2022 with a stirring win in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, a race he captured for the third time since 2019.
Rounding out the field is another Armata Stable runner Goodoldtimes, trained by Alicia Murphy. At nine, Goodoldtimes is the youngster in the field, and he’s never been off the board in 10 career starts over timber. The 2021 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup winner, Goodoldtimes finished third in three starts last season.
The My Lady’s Manor is the first of three timber races at increasing distances over three successive Saturdays. The second leg, the Grand National, will be contested on April 22 in Butler, at 3 1/4 miles. The crowning jewel is the 126th running of the Maryland Hunt Cup on April 29 in Glyndon, at 4 miles with a $100,000 purse.
In addition, there are two $20,000 maiden events on the day, the John Rush Streett Memorial and Thomas H. Voss, and a $15,000 allowance restricted to apprentice jockeys. All are at 3 miles.
Gates open at 10 a.m.; first race post time is 1:30 p.m. Click here for full entries.
$100,000 up for grabs at Tryon Block House Races
Green Creek Race Course, one of the most picturesque properties on the National Steeplechase Association circuit, plays host to the 75th running of the Tryon Block House Races on Saturday.
Five races, four over hurdles at 2 miles, have been carded including a $20,000 maiden claimer; a $30,000 maiden special weights contest; $20,000 conditioned claimer for horses who have never won two races; and a $30,000 handicap for horses rated at 120 or less. The day ends with a training flat race at 1 1/4 miles.
In the featured ratings handicap, R and K Racing’s Molly Fantasy, one of three Keri Brion-trainees, takes on the boys while riding a two-race winning streak, a 115 optional claiming allowance at Great Meadow in October and the Montpelier Cup filly and mare stakes in November. Topic Changer, owned by Jordan Wycoff, Frank Mullins, and Upland Flats Racing, was the leading three-year-old of 2022, and should improve off of his seasonal debut in the Imperial Cup stakes at Aiken last month, where he tired. Brion’s third starter, Madaket Stables and Paul and Molly Willis’ Jimmy P wasn’t a factor in his first start of the season, a 120 handicap, following two straight scores – in maiden and allowance company – last fall.
Leading 2022 trainer Leslie Young, who is off to a fast start this spring with five winners already, saddles Tom Rice’s Lumberjack, who earned a hard-fought victory in a maiden claimer at the Carolina Cup Races two weeks ago. The Potter Group, Gaskells Waste Services, and Ashwell Stable’s Uco Valley ran a sharp second in a 120 handicap at Aiken.
Jack Fisher also saddles a pair for Riverdee Stable. Seven-year-old Irish-bred Gordon’s Jet makes his NSA debut after 19 races in the UK where he was a four-time winner. Potus, a five-year-old son of Lemon Drop Kid, is a recent convert to jump racing, and broke his maiden last fall in smashing style.
Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Tease and Seize, another recent European import, has started twice in the U.S. for trainer Richard Valentine. The French-bred wasn’t a factor in the Harry Harris four-year-old stakes at Far Hills, but made a serious bid for the lead in an optional claiming allowance at Great Meadow in October, until falling at the final fence.
William Russelll’s Animal Kingston, trained by Neil Morris, has worked his way up the handicap ranks, winning at 115 and being competitive at the 120 level.
Gates open at 10 a.m.; first race post time is 1:30 p.m. For the complete entries, click here.
You can catch all of the excitement from Tryon and The Manor via the free live stream from the NSA website. The live stream is sponsored by Brown Advisory.