Ironfist still rules Manor

9-year-old wins by nose for third straight crown

Horse Racing

April 14, 2002|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Ironfist needed every ounce of his iron will yesterday in the 92nd running of the My Lady's Manor steeplechase.

Pressed doggedly by Maipo through the several hundred yards of the stretch straightaway, the 9-year-old gelding finally fended off a serious challenge to win by a nose for his third straight Manor victory.

Ironfist joins Captain Jack (1910-1912) and Winton (1942, 1946-47) as three-time Manor winners and next spring might get an opportunity to equal the record of four straight set by Sam Son Of A Gun (1980-1983).

Overall, the chestnut owned by John H. Filbert III has captured eight consecutive races and is unbeaten since the turn of the century.

"I can only say that we had a plan that was executed to perfection, and we still couldn't get by him," said Charles Fenwick Jr., the trainer of Maipo. "I have high regard for my horse, and we just got beaten by a plain very good one. I was impressed."

As is his custom, Ironfist surged to the front under jockey Roger Horgan and remained there for virtually all of the 16 jumps and three miles. The exception came during the stretch run when Maipo appeared to poke his head ahead about halfway through the dash to the wire.

"We got a head in front, and then that horse came to me," said Maipo's rider, Polly Gundry, who came from England to take the mount. "Maipo was coming back again. A little longer and ... well, in my eyes he's a winner."

"If she got in front, it was by a little," Fenwick said. "I knew if we'd win, it would be on a nod."

Ironfist appeared vulnerable this year at the very time Maipo launched his surge - from the halfway point home. After getting a cornstalk embedded in his knee during a routine exercise, Ironfist developed an infection and missed training time.

In addition, Maipo had been conditioned by easily winning the Green Spring point-to-point feature at Shawan Downs and Ironfist was making his season debut.

"Naturally, whether he is ready is always in the back of your mind," Horgan said. "But if Tom Voss [the trainer] didn't think he was 100 percent, he wouldn't have been here."

Horgan added that the horse is in the care of M.J. Kirwin, who "stayed with him 24 hours a day, seven days a week" during his recuperation. "I can't emphasize enough that if it wasn't for her, he wouldn't be here."

The task was eased somewhat by the scratch of expected contender Matchless, who is not comfortable on the firm ground that was the Manor course this year. Ironfist's winning time was 5 minutes, 58 seconds - two seconds off Push and Pull's race record of 1992.

Horgan said Ironfist "put on an exhibition of jumping, a dream trip" at the 2001 Manor but "had a couple hiccups" yesterday. "He gave me a scare once, stood off [hesitated] the jump, but there was nothing real drastic."

By Iron out of Miss List, Ironfist will be prepared for the Virginia Gold Cup on May 4 at The Plains, Va.

Voss trainees swept both the Manor and the secondary feature, the John Rush Streett Memorial - won by Wood Whistle in a record 5:54. Another thriller followed in the first running of the John D. Schapiro Memorial when Virginia invader Ivorgorian and Holzmann dueled head and head through the lane. A photo also separated them, with Ivorgorian prevailing by a head in a race for amateur owners and riders.

Results

First

$20,000, The My Lady's Manor, abt 3 mi over timber

Horse Jockey

Ironfist R. Horgan

Maipo P. Gundry

Dr. Ramsey B. Waterman

Time: 5:58. Scratched-Matchless, Silver Spoon.

Second

$10,000, John Rush Streett Memorial, abt 3 mi over timber

Wood Whistle B. Waterman

Hyrah G. Winants

Prior Approval B. Curry

Time: 5:56 (race record). Scratched-Homage, Melting, Secret Impression, Hall Of Angels.

Third

$7,500, John D. Schapiro Memorial, abt 3 mi over timber

Ivorgorian M. Lampton

Holzmann A. Hambleton

Lone Mountain M. v.d. Woude

Time: 6:15. Scratched-Ocean Liner, Sky And Sea, Secret Impression.

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