Fair Hill to bask in sun's warmth, $2 bets

8-race steeplechase meet offers pari-mutuel betting

May 31, 1999|By Joe Clancy | Joe Clancy,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Memorial Day fun in the sun turns to horses at the Fair Hill Spring Races today north of Elkton in Cecil County. The crowds will be there early to work on their tans -- and their handicapping skills.

Fair Hill, the only U.S. steeplechase meet with pari-mutuel wagering, won't set any betting records (expect about $200,000 in total handle), but the historic course is a haven for families and $2 bettors. Today offers plenty of chances, as full fields line up across the program of two races on the flat, one over timber and five over hurdles.

The first of eight races starts at 1 p.m.

The featured Miles Valentine Stakes, a Grade III hurdle race worth $30,000, has attracted a solid field of 12, including 1999 winners Plumb Bob, Devil's Reach, Bangguster and Hunt Lane. Dale Thie's Plumb Bob, a South Carolina shipper, comes off a second-place effort in a Grade II stakes in Nashville, Tenn. The 5-year-old won a Grade III to start the year, and looks like the logical pacesetter in a field stacked with off-the-pace horses. Trainer Toby Edwards will see double duty as the horse's jockey.

The challengers will come in waves. Hunt Lane, who won his last start at Radnor, Pa., is at a career peak and can stalk the pace if he relaxes. Batchwood, trained in Butler by Jack Fisher for owner Sheila Williams, comes off a second-place effort in a similar race and can threaten with another good effort. Stakes veterans Anzac Cove (age 10) and Ninepins (12) look to be running late.

NOTES: Fair Hill is located at the intersection of routes 273 and 213. General admission is $5, with box and reserved seats available. Pub Date: 5/31/99

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