Valentine race headlines Fair Hill

5 entered in $30K steeplechase event

Md. Million bonuses awarded

Horse Racing


Maryland's spring steeplechasing season concludes today when Fair Hill conducts its 38th annual program with an eight-race card starting at 1 p.m.

The only jump-racing event in the state with legal pari-mutuel wagering, it annually accentuates family fun, picnicking and a day in the country on Memorial Day weekend to benefit Union Hospital in Elkton.

A compact field of five will race in the feature, the $30,000 Valentine Memorial, which is part of a relatively new National Steeplechase Association series that is restricted to fillies and mares. The idea is to provide opportunities for them to race against each other rather than compete against males.

Trainer Jack Fisher, who leads the NSA standings with 12 victories, has been a prominent starter in the race with Footlights, but does not have an entry this year.

However, runner-up Feeling So Pretty returns to face the likes of Tom Voss-trained Guelph, a talented mare who had an excellent 2005 season, Orchid Princess, a stakes winner this year, Artsy and Isla Mujeres.

"The new thing is the Maryland Million bonus money," race director Frank Hopkins Jr. said.

Premium bonuses will be awarded to Maryland Million nominees who compete in the Valentine Memorial (totaling $15,000 with 60 percent to the winner) and maiden hurdle and novice timber races ($5,000 each).

Racing officials hoped to honor Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro - who has been stabled at Fair Hill - during the card, but that was before the career-ending leg injury he suffered at the Preakness.

"We were going to plan something after the Preakness," said Hopkins, "but after what happened, we decided to leave it alone."

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