Timber stakes highlight Genesee, Virginia Fall meets

Andi’amu at Shawan downs 2023 . © Tod Marks

By Tod Marks

A pair of stakes featuring veteran timber jumpers headline this Saturday’s National Steeplechase Association doubleheader in New York and Virginia.

At the Genesee Valley Hunt Races in Geneseo, N.Y., the only steeplechase in the Empire State outside of the NYRA flat tracks, three races worth a collective $50,000 have been carded, all over timber. Topping the day is the $25,000 Genesee Valley Hunt Cup at 3 ½ miles. The other races are a $15,000 maiden and a $10,000 allowance restricted to amateur or apprentice riders. Both of those events are at 3 miles.

In the four-horse feature, the standout is Ballybristol Farm’s Andi’amu, the 2019 and 2022 National Steeplechase Association timber champion, now trained by Neil Morris. The 13-year-old French-bred remains highly competitive. A winner of 11 races – nine stakes – in 17 outings since 2018, Andi’amu has finished second four times. In his 2023 debut, Andi’amu won the Middleburg Hunt Cup. In his first outing since placing in the Virginia Gold Cup in May, Andi’amu contended before tiring to finish third in the Brown Advisory stakes at Shawn Downs two weeks ago. Tuscany Racing’s Monbeg Stream, trained by leading conditioner Leslie Young who is coming off a six-win weekend on September 30 and October 1, captured three straight before being pulled up in the Willowdale Steeplechase in May. In his prior start, he won the Maryland Grand National.

Kiplin Hall’s Renegade River, trained by Paige Reynolds, has made the most of a pair of 2023 stakes starts, with a close second to Monbeg Stream in the Grand National and a score in the Willowdale Steeplechase in Pennsylvania over that foe in April.

Charlie Fenwick’s Royal Ruse hasn’t won a race in three and a half years, but enters the Hunt Cup off a career-defining second in the historic Maryland Hunt Cup in April for trainer Sanna Neilson.

For complete entries, click here: https://nationalsteeplechase.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Genesee-Valley-overnights.pdf.  Post time is 1 p.m.

The races are only part of festivities at Genesee. Friendly, leashed dogs are welcome, and there are canine events such as terrier and wiener-dog races, a jumping contest, agility courses, sled-dog demos, plus a parade of the Genesee Valley Hunt foxhounds. For kids, there are stick-horse races and pony rides; adults can partake in wine and craft beer tastings. The festivities began at 10 a.m.

And at Middleburg

Nearly 400 miles South of Genesee, eight races have been carded for the 69th Virginia Fall Races at Glenwood Park in Middleburg. First run in 1955, the meet carries $205,000 in purses for a mix of timber and hurdle races.

Anchoring the program is the $50,000 National Sporting Library & Museum Cup stakes at 3 ¼ miles. The race has gotten a purse bump of $20,000 over last year.

A field of seven is expected, including The Hundred Acre Field’s Cracker Factory, who captured the race last fall for trainer Mark Beecher. The eight-year-old is coming off a come-from-behind victory in the Brown Advisory stakes over Elusive Exclusive and champion Andi’amu at Shawan Downs two weeks ago.

The wildcard in the race is Dolly Fisher’s venerable star Schoodic, trained by her son, Hall of Fame conditioner Jack Fisher. The 13-year-old, a multiple stakes winner of nearly half-million-dollars over hurdles and timber, returned recently after 17 months on the sidelines to run a hard-charging second, beaten 2 ½ lengths by Chosen Mate in an allowance race at Shawan Downs. A model of consistency over his 11 years on the track, Schoodic has 13 top-three finishes in 15 starts since April 2019.

Leslie Young, sends out Leipers Fork Steeplechasers’ Tomgarrow, the 2021 timber champ. Tomgarrow began 2023 with a win in the My Lady’s Manor stakes, and had won four of his previous five outings coming into the Virginia Gold Cup in May, where he fell.

Fat Chance Farm’s Flaming Sword, trained by Richard Valentine, was second in the Willowdale Steeplechase, and set the pace for 2 miles in the Brown Advisory at Shawan before tiring to finish last. Valentine also saddles Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Hafajay, who makes his first start in more than two years. The lightly raced British-bred 10-year-old broke his maiden over timber at Winterthur in 2021.

Upland Partners’ Shootist, trained by Todd McKenna, makes his first appearance at Middleburg. The nine-year-old son of Smart Strike is stakes placed over timber. He was third in the Maryland Grand National and competitive in the four-mile Maryland Hunt Cup before tiring and being pulled up at the 18th fence.

Rounding out the field is Stooshie, a winner of two of his past four starts for leading owner Irv Naylor and trainer Cyril Murphy. The 10-year-old broke his maiden at the Virginia Fall Races in 2022 and outfought multiple stakes winner Storm Team in an allowance event at the Old Dominion Hounds meet in April. He lost his rider in his only other start this year, in the Steeplethon stakes at Great Meadow.

Besides the timber stake, the card consists of two $30,000 maiden special weight hurdles; a $30,000 handicap for horses rated at 115 or less; a $20,000 maiden starter allowance for horses who have run for a claiming tag of $20,000 or less; a $20,000 maiden contest over timber; a $25,000 steeplethon over mixed obstacles; and a training flat finale. Post time is 12:30 p.m.

For complete entries, click here: https://nationalsteeplechase.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/10/Middleburg-revised-1.pdf

You can watch all of Saturday’s races via live stream from the link on the NSA homepage, www.nationalsteeplechase.com. The stream is sponsored by Brown Advisory.

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