(photo by Scott Serio, Patuxent…)
One week after a relatively sedate afternoon of races just down the road at Atlanta Hall Farm in Monkton, the Maryland Steeplechase Racing Triple Crown got started Saturday afternoon with the My Lady's Manor Races at Ladew Topiary Gardens. Jockey Jody Petty was the day's big winner as he rode to victory in the day's premier event, the 104th running of the My Lady's Manor Race.
He followed that with another win less than an hour later in the John Rush Streett Memorial First Division.
On the previous Saturday, steeplechase enthusiasts gathered for the Triple Crown's unofficial tuneup races, the Elkridge-Harford Point-to-Point. My Lady's Manor drew a much larger crowd.
The day's events opened at 1:30 p.m. with the My Lady's Manor Steeplechase, which Petty, riding on 10-year-old gelding Nat Grew, dominated from the start.
Over the 3-mile course, Petty led wire to wire, and at one point held a 40-length lead over his nearest competitor. He won the race by 20 lengths in 6 minutes, 13.2seconds.
Nat Grew "just wants to run and run," Petty, a Fair Hill native, said after the race. "In an earlier race I tried to hold him in a little bit, and he wasn't jumping very well because of it. When I let him go, he started jumping just fine, so from then on I've just let him run. He's a horse you just can't hold back."
In the second event of the day, the John Rush Streett Memorial First Division, Petty posted his second victory, this time coming from fourth at the halfway mark to win by eight lengths on 9-year-old Irish gelding Organisateur.
"In that second race, [Organisateur] got stuck behind a horse that wasn't jumping very well, and that really distracted him," Petty said.
"The other horse was going over the jumps a little bit sideways, and that messed up our timing. Once we got in front of that horse, we just sailed. The plan was to hold him back for a little bit longer, but, like the first race, if they want to run you just have to let them go. After the third-to-last jump, I let him run."
After collecting his second trophy of the afternoon, Petty said the Ladew course is one of his favorites because it is so demanding.
"You really have to run and jump on this course," Petty said. "On some of the smaller tracks you can get by without jumping very well, but here, there isn't much room for error. It's a lot of rolling hills and it has some tough jumps. That's why it's one of my favorite places to race."
Eight-year-old Irish gelding City Press, with Connor Hankin aboard, won the third race, the John Rush Streett Memorial Second Division.
The final race of the afternoon, the John D. Schapiro Memorial, was won by Terko Service, a 7-year-old gelding ridden by Nick Carter.