Doubleheader at Fair Hill. It’s a long time coming but the venerable Cecil County oval welcomes twilight racing Friday and its traditional Memorial Day Weekend card Saturday. Play money Friday. Real money Saturday. Funnel cake and snow cones both days.
As for last week, Stalwart Joe edged one win closer to Tom with three winners at Radnor (Prayer Hope, Corky Lemon, Brooklyn Speights). Upstart Tom countered with two winners (Av A Word, Brooklyn Speights) and Slumbering Sean staggered yet again with one winner (Prayer Hope). For the season, Tom leads with 23, Joe lurks with 21 and Sean is waiting for another day with 15. Yeah, 15, a dart and a dartboard would have been more accurate.
The good news for Sean is the spring segment of the handicapping challenge is over after Fair Hill. The bad news is he owes Joe and Tom seven cases of Pennyrile Pale Ale from West Sixth Brewing. Always an optimist, Sean still believes he’s got a Silky Sullivan move in him and will pick 10 different horses than Joe and Tom. If he sweeps the cards, he wins by two. No problem.
Friday, May 24. The Fair Hill Races. Elkton, Md. 4:00.
Race 1. The Cecil County Economic Development. Training Flat. Amateur riders. 1 1/4 miles.
Michael Dickinson loves to win training flat races, he sends out maiden Rumors Of Violence. Kathy Neilson has enjoyed a stellar spring, she unleashes new recruit Hollywood Strike. Make notes, tab for later.
- Tom: Hollywood Strike, Rumors Of Violence, Diplodocus.
- Joe: Rumors Of Violence, Tir Na Nog, Silver Crescent.
- Sean: Diplodocus, Rumors Of Violence, Hollywood Strike.
Race 2. The 85th Fair Hill Races Anniversary. Amateur/apprentice timber. $10,000. 3 miles.
Runaway winner in April, Flaming Sword looks strong here. Full disclosure, Sean picked Leslie Young’s runner first but changed to the house horse after seeing Joe and Tom's choices. If Biedermeier wins, it's nine cases of Pennyrile. Tom always seeks back class and goes for high-profile hurdle convert Overwhelming for Jack Fisher. Can Fisher win 20 races this spring?
- Tom: Overwhelming, Lambeau Field, Biedermeier.
- Joe: Flaming Sword, Biedermeier, Overwhelming.
- Sean: Biedermeier, Flaming Sword, Monstaleur.
Race 3. Fair Hill Volunteers. Amateur flat. 1 1/4 miles.
Nice to see two-time hurdle winner Elucidation in the entries. Next stop, Saratoga.
- Tom: Elucidation, Master Gunner, The Keeper.
- Joe: Master Gunner, Elucidation, The Keeper.
- Sean: The Keeper, Elucidation, Master Gunner.
Race 4. The Brown Advisory. Novice Timber. $25,000. 3 miles.
Schoodic has relished his long-anticipated switch to timber. The graded stakes winner over hurdles has been flawless in the slow-down-stand-up division, eking out his debut at My Lady’s Manor and dominating allowance foes at the Iroquois. Stablemate Political Theatre looks like his main rival. Sean struggled here, winding up with his fourth choice, yeah, fourth choice.
- Tom: Schoodic, Political Theatre, Mercoeur.
- Joe: Political Theatre, Schoodic, Mercoeur.
- Sean: Forever Bernardini, Schoodic, Political Theatre.
Saturday, May 25. The Fair Hill Races. 1:00.
OK, get to the ATM or go to the Gold Cup drawer. Real betting.
Race 1. Maiden Claiming Hurdle. $15,000. 2 1/4 miles.
Mr. Fine Threads looked like a lock halfway up the stretch at Willowdale but got nailed in the last stride. Today is the day.
- Tom: Naval Gazer, Mr. Fine Threads, Rooftop View.
- Joe: Mr. Fine Threads, Naval Gazer, Rooftop View.
- Sean: Shoreline, Naval Gazer, Mr. Fine Threads.
Race 2. Maiden Hurdle. $30,000. 2 1/4 miles.
Not In Charge sports the best flat form and the most prolific connections (Fisher, of course) but what happened at Queen’s Cup? High-profile horse needs to rebound from that. Lost Story ran hard for a long way at the Virginia Gold Cup. Nobody’s hotter than Richard Boucher, surely Jump Ship will enjoy the flat and fast surface at Fair Hill.
- Tom: Not In Charge, Lost Story, Jump Ship.
- Joe: Lost Story, Not In Charge, Deposit.
- Sean: Deposit, Not In Charge, Lost Story.
Race 3. Maiden Hurdle. $30,000. 2 1/4 miles.
The second division of the maiden looks just as deep with Teodoro carrying flat ability and jump form. Brianbakescookies served a good batch at Virginia Gold Cup but burnt the batch at Radnor, he could shrug that off. The accomplished flat horse Seeking Albert makes his debut. Junonia won at the Potomac Point-to-Point.
- Tom: Khafayya, Teodoro, Brianbakescookies.
- Joe: Brianbakescookies, Teodoro, Junonia.
- Sean: Teodoro, Rebound, Khafayya.
Race 4. 4-year-old Hurdle. $30,000. 2 1/4 miles.
Interesting condition attracts an interesting group. Aggressive came here with a big reputation and proved it with a facile win at Camden. Our Legend is the only other winner. The rest are maidens.
- Tom: Our Legend, Aggressive, Lonely Weekend.
- Joe: Aggressive, Bet The Pot, Lonely Weekend.
- Sean: Bet The Pot, Aggressive, Our Legend.
Race 5. The Irish Coggins Memorial. Filly and Mare Hurdle. $50,000. 2 1/4 miles.
Two weeks and two long ships are the X factors here. Down Royal looked strong in her 2019 debut at the Iroquois. Sarah Joyce surely should benefit from that race, as well. Amnicalola abhorred the ground that day.
- Tom: Down Royal, Sarah Joyce, Mavourneen.
- Joe: Down Royal, Sarah Joyce, Go As You Please.
- Sean: Amnicalola, Down Royal, Sarah Joyce.
Race 6. The Valentine Memorial. Handicap Hurdle. $40,000. 2 1/4 miles.
Seven line up for the feature. Established stakes horses and graduating novices clash. Belisarius looked like the best novice in the country until a dud in Nashville, at least, it wasn't a hard race which helps coming back in two weeks.
- Tom: Belisarius, Hinterland, Show Court.
- Joe: Belisarius, No Wunder, Contented.
- Sean: Hinterland, Belisarius, Contented.