Weather may be no hurdle for steeplechase opener

March 20, 1994|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Sun Staff Writer

Maryland's spring steeplechase and timber racing season, highlighted by the 100th anniversary of the Maryland Hunt Cup on April 30, begins Saturday at the 50th running of the Howard County Hunt Cup in Glenelg.

Last year, the Howard County-Iron Bridge race meet was canceled because inclement weather had left the ground too soggy. But racing secretary Jack Mobberley said that despite the winter's snowstorms, "the course is in good shape and conditions look promising. The ground is thawed out. The course drains well, and most of the jumps are on high ground, anyway," Mobberley said.

Joe Gillet, who trains a number of jumpers in Monkton, including 1993 Eclipse Award contender, Motorcade, said that steeplechase horsemen are more severely affected by poor weather conditions than flat trainers at the track because most training is done on farms in unmanicured fields. "The weather was brutal, so a lot of people in Monkton have been using Tom Voss' indoor track at Atlanta Hall Farm. In the Glyndon area, trainers are using the indoor track at Sagamore Farm," he said.

By his estimates about 25 timber horses in Maryland and Pennsylvania will be prepping for the Maryland Hunt Cup in timber races in the coming weeks.

He said that last year's Hunt Cup winner, Ivory Poacher, is on the sidelines, but that trainer Jack Fisher is readying last year's second and third-place finishers, Revelstoke and Sea Speed, for another try.

The last couple of years Fisher has dominated the spring timber races as a trainer and rider.

Gillet said that developments this year include Liz McKnight's retirement from competitive riding and Charles Fenwick Jr.'s expected attempt to ride his sixth Maryland Hunt Cup winner. A victory would tie Mike Smithwick's record of six wins.

Fenwick has two horses, 1993 Timber Horse of the Year Free Throw and Buck Jakes, in training for the race.

To celebrate the 100th anniversary, the Maryland Hunt Cup committee in conjunction with the Maryland Historical Society, is offering a weekend of activities, including a commemorative exhibit at the Historical Society's Baltimore headquarters, a parade of former Hunt Cup winners and a carriage drive on race day.

The steeplechase schedule:

Saturday: HOWARD COUNTY--IRON BRIDGE RACE MEET. Meriwether Farm, 14944 Roxbury Road, Glenelg. Ten races (4 timber, 2 flat, 4 junior), including 50th running of the Howard County Hunt Cup. Post time 1 p.m. Information: Jack Mobberley (410) 489-4642.

Sunday, April 3: MARLBOROUGH HUNT RACES, Roedown Farm, Harwood and Wayson roads, Davidsonville. Nine races (2 timber, 2 hurdle, 3 flat, 2 junior), including $2,000 John Murray Begg Memorial. Post time, noon. Information: Bill Myers (301) 627-3378.

Saturday, April 9: ELKRIDGE-HARFORD HUNT POINT-TO-POINT RACES, Atlanta Hall Farm, Monkton. Seven races (4 timber, 2 flat, 1 junior), including Edward S. Voss Memorial. Post time: 1:30 p.m. Information: Joe Gillet (410) 771-4688.

Saturday, April 16: MY LADY'S MANOR RACE MEET, Jarrettsville Pike at Pocock Road, Monkton. Two timber races, including 84th running of $15,000 My Lady's Manor Point-to-Point. Post time: 3:30 p.m. Information: H. Turney McKnight (410) 752-8727.

Saturday, April 23: GRAND NATIONAL STEEPLECHASE, Butler Road, Butler. Three races (2 timber, 1 flat), including 92nd running of $20,000 Grand National Point-to-Point. Post time: 3:15 p.m. Information: Charles Fenwick Jr. (410) 666-7777.

Saturday, April 30: MARYLAND HUNT CUP, Worthington Farms, Tufton Avenue, Glyndon. 100th anniversary, 98th running of $30,000 Maryland Hunt Cup. Post time: 4 p.m. Information: Fenwick (410) 666-7777.

Saturday, May 14: POTOMAC HUNT RACES, Bittersweet Field, River and Partnership roads, Potomac. Nine races (3 timber, 2 hurdle, 2 flat, 2 junior), including $5,000 Preakness Celebration Potomac Plate. Post time: 12:30 p.m. Information: Skip Crawford (202) 862 -2873.

Monday, May 30: FAIR HILL SPRING RACES, Fair Hill Racecourse, Fair Hill. Eight races (5 hurdle, 1 timber, 2 flat), including $25,000 Miles Valentine Novice Stakes. Post time: 1 p.m. Information: Gregg Morris, Director of Racing (410) 398-6565.

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