Sam Sullivan looks to tame Manor

Voss family aims for 4th victory in a row at event

April 12, 2003|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

After a long winter's night, the boss of steeplechase trainers returns to action just in time for the first major race of the Maryland season, the 93rd running of My Lady's Manor this afternoon in Monkton.

While the majority of Tom Voss' trainees who are opening their campaigns are headed for the Atlanta Steeplechase, Sam Sullivan will be at the Manor to carry the colors of his owner, Voss' wife, Mimi, and to attempt to win the event for the family for the fourth straight time.

With defending champion Ironfist idled until the fall, the task of beating five competitors falls to Sam Sullivan, the horse with the gentle disposition and consistent running ability. "A hard hitter," Voss labels him.

Sam Sullivan tuned up for the 3-mile challenge over timber fences by winning the Voss Memorial last weekend in the Elkridge-Harford point-to-point on Voss' nearby farm.

While the competition battled it out at the four major National Steeplechase Association meetings that have already been conducted in the South, Voss has elected to wait, as is his custom. While others get the jump on him, he has a knack for catching up quickly.

En route to his third straight NSA training title last season, Voss won with six of his first 10 starters, then finished with 26 victories, 10 more than the runner-up. This time, fellow Marylander Jack Fisher is out front with four wins already.

"We're going to try to make it four [in a row]," said Voss. "But it doesn't get any easier."

He should do well in Atlanta with some of the biggest names in his 20-horse jumping stable on the card, including Quel Senor, Coal Dust and Anofferucantrefuse.

At the Manor, the trainer is concerned about the running conditions for Sam Sullivan after a rainy week.

"I don't know how much he loves soft ground," Voss said. "I'm not real happy about it because the Manor course can get very wet down below. It seems like a never-ending winter here."

A contender for the 2002 NSA timber title, Sam Sullivan was second in the final standings to Young Dubliner. Blair Waterman will ride the 10-year-old gelding, who is 9-for-13 lifetime over timber.

The Manor has reached sanctioned stakes level for the first time with a $5,000 purse increase to $25,000.

The primary competition appears to be veteran Maipo, trained by Charles Fenwick Jr. and only a nose behind Ironfist as last year's place horse.

A three-race card at the Manor has a 1:30 p.m. post time. Following the My Lady's Manor are two events over the same course, one for maiden timber horses, the other a foxhunter's chase.

My Lady's Manor

When: Today, gates open, 11 a.m.; first post, 1.30 p.m.

Where: Jarrettsville Pike at Pocock Road, Monkton.

Directions: From Baltimore, approximately 14 miles north of Beltway, exit 27B (Dulaney Valley Road, which becomes Jarrettsville Pike). Left at Pocock Road.

Tickets: Family parking passes, $45; general parking passes, $35. Available at the gate.

Restrictions: Unleashed dogs. Glass containers to be deposited in receptacles.

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