Ironfist shows heels to Manor field again

8-year-old captures 2nd straight in Monkton

April 15, 2001|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

A year ago, when he whipped the My Lady's Manor field in only his second start over timber fences, Ironfist was an unproven quantity.

When he repeated yesterday in the $20,000 Manor Race, the 8-year-old son of Iron out of Miss List underlined his championship credentials.

The Tom Voss-trained horse was the National Steeplechase Association timber titlist in 2000 while going undefeated in four races and earning $70,500.

He is off and jumping again after dominating five rivals in front-running style on a perfect afternoon in Monkton.

"It wasn't far off from being as easy as it looked," said winning jockey Roger Horgan, who steered Ironfist to the front and stayed there, winning by a comfortable six lengths over veteran Emerald Action.

"Last year, we had a titanic battle with Saluter [now retired]. This horse wants to win more than any horse in life. He loves to have a fight with another horse down the stretch."

Ironfist completed the three-mile course in a respectable 6 minutes, 5 seconds in his first 2001 start.

With Voss keeping company with five of his horses at the Atlanta meeting, Horgan played the strategy by ear.

"Nobody really want to go, so I say, `OK, let's get the lead,' " said Horgan, a professional rider who is not eligible for any of the other Triple Crown races here.

"I think the distance [winning margin] could have been double if it needed to be."

The late scratch of the reigning Hunt Cup champion, Swayo, also eased the task for Ironfist.

Swayo was bothered by a nagging stone bruise and was "off form," according to Joey Gillet, who was scheduled to ride him. "It doesn't look good for any of the Maryland races."

Ironfist's only real challenge came from Floating Interest about midway through the race, but Ironfist shifted gears and pulled away.

"I was never concerned," said Horgan. "He let it out a notch himself when that happened. When you're riding good horses, they go in slow motion. It's like in pause time. I was supremely confident in this horse.

"He matured over the winter. I think Tom was [confident], too. [Voss] is the king at producing in timber races. Nine last year - eight wins, one second. That speaks for itself."

Although the course was slightly soft after absorbing a lot of rain, Friday's dry weather and wind made the course "absolutely perfect over about three-fourths of it," said Horgan.

"There were a half-dozen soft spots on the bottom, but if you know the course, you know how to avoid them."

Horgan said the unsung heroes were assistant trainer Louis Bosley and M.J. Kirwin, "who is like a mother" to Ironfist.

"He's a happy horse because of her."

In the secondary feature, the $10,000 John Rush Streett Memorial for maidens, Kanawha outdueled stablemate Matchless in a stirring stretch battle to win by a neck.

Results First race - My Lady's Manor, $20,000, 5yo and up, abt 3 miles over timber. Ironfist, R. Horgan; Emerald Action, W. Cushny; Aitcheson Lane, G. Brutscher. Time: 6:05. Also ran: Floating Interest, Blacken Sword, Proud Dawg.

Second race - John Rush Streett Memorial, $10,000, 5 yo and up, abt. 3 miles over timber. Kanawha, W. Cushny; Matchless, J. Gillet; Wood Whistle, B. Waterman. Time: 6:06. Also ran: Prior Approval, Temple Owl, Solo Lord, Stage Radiance.

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