Goodbye summer. Shawan Downs and Foxfield lift the curtain on the fall circuit. Full fields abound at Shawan Downs while firm ground has winnowed the fields at Foxfield. On behalf of all horsemen and all fans, thanks for putting on the show.
The ST Handicappers wade back into the pool, tied at one win apiece (each picked Snap Decision at Belmont Park). Joe and Sean try to upend Tom Law’s reign as leader after a torrid spring. As for the summer, the toutings got sidetracked with The Saratoga Special (although Sean would like to remind anybody who cares that he went 4-for-4, sweeping the cards at Parx and Monmouth). Now, that’s out of the way, onward and upward.
Race 1. The GMBC Maiden 3-year-old. $20,000. 2 miles.
Welcome to steeplechasing horses and owners. Wimborne Farm and Robert LaPenta. Both prominent flat owners make rare bows into the jumping game with starters in the opener. Drilliant made his hurdle debut at Colonial Downs for Diane Perkins’ Wimborne Farm and trainer Doug Fout. The son of Drill finished third behind 4-year-olds Knockholt and Silver Crescent. LaPenta, who sold Ice It to the sport several years ago, sticks with $625,000 yearling purchase, Fast Car. The son of Verrazano (recently exported to Brazil) won his flat debut at Colonial Downs for leading trainer Jack Fisher.
Beyond those newcomers, Fisher unleashes Elfitz, a little brother to the one and only Schoodic for Edith Dixon. Fout takes the wrapping off Fashion Line, a son of Morning Line and hurdle stakes winner Well Fashioned. Jonathan Sheppard and Ricky Hendriks fire two shots each. Here’s the future.
- Tom: Fast Car, Cotton House, Elfitz.
- Joe: Fast Car, Cotton House, Elfitz.
- Sean: Drilliant, Fast Car, Cotton House.
Race 2. The Bank of America. Ratings Hurdle. $30,000. 2 miles.
A race that announced Scorpiancer’s arrival in 2015 attracts a deep field of 13. A few try to rebound from forays to Saratoga while others played to the right music at Colonial and others freshened over the summer. Moorland crushed several of these at Colonial. Elucidation looked promising last fall but dull thus far this year. Maccabee won three this spring. Just a few of the contenders.
- Tom: Elucidation, Moorland, Pik Em.
- Joe: Elucidation, Moorland, Pik Em.
- Sean: Moorland, Corky Lemon, Elucidation.
Race 3. Roundtop Mountain Resort. Maiden Hurdle. $30,000. 2 miles.
Khafayya has an experience edge on all his rivals here, the 7-year-old makes his 13th start over hurdles. Brianbakescookies finished just behind Khafayya at Fair Hill. Lonely Weekend closed to be fourth in the 4-year-old race at Fair Hill.
- Tom: Lonely Weekend, Lochte, Khafayya.
- Joe: Lonely Weekend, Khafayya, Sudden Victory.
- Sean: Brianbakescookies, Khafayya, Lonely Weekend.
Race 4. Brown Advisory Legacy Chase. Open Timber. 3 miles. $25,000.
Undefeated in three tries over timber, Schoodic towers above seven rivals here. Jack Fisher continues his assault on the all-time seasonal win mark (Joe has more on that).
- Tom: Schoodic, Katnap, Mystic Strike.
- Joe: Schoodic, Codrington College, Mystic Strike.
- Sean: Schoodic, Mystic Strike, Katnap.
Race 5. Sodexo Maiden Timber. $15,000. 3 miles.
Wow, this is deep and confounding. The key race is the novice at Fair Hill. Schoodic won easily over Royal Ruse, Fletched and Mercoeur in that order. Those three show up here.
- Tom: Jarir, Mercoeur, Cocodimama.
- Joe: Mercoeur, Royal Ruse, Coastal Moon.
- Sean: Mercoeur, Royal Ruse, Jarir.
Race 6. GMBC Volunteer Auxiliary. Amateur/apprentice timber. $10,000. 3 miles.
Classy move by Shawan Downs to pick up two races from the canceled card at High Hope. Seven line up for this rehomed timber contest. Flaming Sword looked like a freak at the Grand National but looked dull at Fair Hill, the summer break could have him rebounding to his best. Of course, there’s another burner from the Jack Fisher barn, Overwhelming. And then there’s Withoutmoreado, a £60,000 purchase from the point-to-point scene overseas.
- Tom: Overwhelming, Monstaleur, The Duck.
- Joe: Overwhelming, Flaming Sword, The Duck.
- Sean: Overwhelming, Flaming Sword, Withoutmoreado.
Race 7. In Honor of all GMBC Cancer Survivors. Amateur/apprentice flat. 1 ½ miles.
Another race rescued from High Hope. Full field lines up to help tutor all riders and some horses. We’d love to see Colin Smith, Daisy Fenwick, Sara Gartland, Skylar McKenna or Elizabeth Scully with their first career race here. If you’re eyeing the horses, take a long look at Royal Drumlee, he cost £100,000 after winning his last three on the Irish point-to-point circuit. And, oh yeah, Virginia Gold Cup winner Andi’amu gets back to work.
- Tom: Kremlin, Andi’amu, I Am Not Here.
- Joe: Barhanpour, Include It, Court Ruler.
- Sean: Andi’amu, Royal Drumlee, Av A Word.
Race 8. Herman and Walter Samuelson Foundation. Flat. 1 3/8 miles.
Another full field and another strong race. Good to see Mekong representing Greg Hawkins, Hall of Famer Janet Elliot and former hurdler The Grey Express. Even better to see the mercurial Iranistan back in action. And the likeable Invocation makes another start for another trainer, his fourth since coming to these shores. And as they say at the dry cleaner, there are no easy spots, the finale attracts 14 who have combined to earn over $1.2 million.
- Tom: Iranistan, Douglas Road, Mekong.
- Joe: Douglas Road, Rebound, Iranistan.
- Sean: Douglas Road, My Afleet, Iranistan.
They say the ground is firm, but that’s what happens sometimes at Foxfield in Charlottesville, Va. when nature doesn’t cooperate with some timely rain. The cool, old (we remember when it was new) course runs in the spring and fall and is a staple of the circuit. Sunday’s card includes four races with a first post of 1:30 p.m.
Race 1. $15,000 maiden claiming hurdle. 2 1/8 miles.
Seven horses made the program and follow a variety of paths. Good And Proper won four on the flat, and drops to the claiming ranks after two maiden special tries. Camp Courage was second at Fair Hill. Be Counted also drops down. Be Somebody is out of Grade 1 winner Colstar.
- Tom: Good And Proper, Be Counted, Attracting.
- Joe: Good And Proper, Be Counted, Camp Courage.
- Sean: Be Counted, Camp Courage, Good And Proper.
Race 2. Training flat for Virginia-bred or -certified horses. 1 1/4 miles.
The prep for the big money at the International Gold Cup next month. Five run here including Be Somebody’s half-brother (by Temple City).
- Tom: Arkadag, Speed Ahead, Galaxy Express.
- Joe: Speed Ahead, Galaxy Express, Arkadag.
- Sean: Arkadag, Speed Ahead, Galaxy Express.
Race 3. $20,000 filly/mare maiden hurdle. 2 1/8 miles.
Seven sign on for this, including two from Jonathan Sheppard and one from his assistant Keri Brion. That’s That was second over the course in April. Inverness leads the group in jump starts with nine (two seconds, four thirds). She’s a deserving favorite.
- Tom: Inverness, That’s That, Konstantinova.
- Joe: Inverness, That's That, Paris Lady.
- Sean: Inverness, Paris Lady, That's That.
Fourth race. Virginia Equine Alliance. $30,000 maiden hurdle. 2 1/8 miles.
Seven look for diplomas in the finale, including Silver Crescent who just missed at Colonial Downs in August. Colonel Moorhead comes out of the same race while Mr. Fine Threads was second in the slop at Willowdale. More Alex will attract attention for the Ricky Hendriks barn.
- Tom: Silver Crescent, Skydiving, Mr. Fine Threads.
- Joe: Silver Crescent, Colonel Moorhead, More Alex.
- Sean: Silver Crescent, Colonel Moorhead, Skydiving.