End of the road. Steeplechasing's spring race-meet season ends Saturday at Fair Hill, Md. with a long, nine-race card. Post time is 1 p.m. Fair Hill has long been the only race meet to offer pari-mutuel wagering, though it was joined this year by the Virginia Gold Cup. Either way, bring your $2 Saturday afternoon.The TIHR handicapping race is getting tighter. Joe leads 25, followed by Tom (23) and Sean (22).
First Race. Training flat going 7 furlongs. Twelve signed up and include maidens and a millionaire. The latter is Irish-bred Royal Bench, who finished second in the Group 1 Hong Kong Mile at Sha Tin in 2010. The 6-year-old won a Group 2 in France and towers over the field in terms of class for new connections Merriefield Farm and Tom Voss.
Second Race. Training flat going 1 ¼ miles. Another full field of 12 and another mixed bag.
Third Race. Maiden claiming hurdle with a full field of 10.
Fourth Race. Conditioned claiming hurdle with a field of nine. They’ve all one one. Pedigree fans will take note of Black Pond, a half-brother to Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Drosselmeyer.
Fifth Race. Filly/mare maiden hurdle with a full field of 10 coming from all directions. Two make their jump debuts. One placed in a Grade 1 on the flat at Hollywood Park last year.
Sixth Race. Maiden hurdle with nine runners. The move to restrict all maiden races to 10 starters has paid off in split races and quality fields. Fair Hill attracted overflow entries to its maiden race and split it into two.
Seventh Race. The day’s feature, a $40,000 starter handicap for horses that started for $30,000 or less in 2012-13. Seven signed up and get a chance at a big payday.
Eighth Race. The second maiden hurdle, also with nine.
Ninth Race. Novice timber. The finale goes to the lumber with eight runners headed by 2013 winners Mr. Tack, Peace Fire and Saluda Sam. Former Grade 1 hurdler Tax Ruling makes his second timber start.
For more on Fair Hill, see:
Daily Racing Form entries. Past performances also available.