Step Two. The steeplechase season hits its second weekend of September with Sunday’s Foxfield Races in Charlottesville, Va. The fall meet takes its next step toward a complete rebuild with six races and total purses of $90,000.
The card includes a $25,000 maiden hurdle and a $25,000 filly/mare maiden hurdle, the latter drawing just four entries so it’s an opportunity to cash in for somebody. Post time is 12:30 p.m. and you can watch via live feed on the NSA website. The TIHR handicappers get back to work a week after Joe took a slim lead to start the autumn (don’t say fall) season with four winners at Shawan to three from Sean and one from Tom.
First race. $10,000 maiden claiming hurdle going 2 1/8 miles. The old conundrum of the known versus the unknown. Shaka has run four times, Sea Mast seven, Swim four. You want want of them? Or one of the first-timers in a field of seven.
Joe: Shaka, Prince Khozan, Swim.
Sean: Prince Khozan, Shaka, Swim.
Tom: Shaka, Prince Khozan, Swim.
Second race. Training flat going 1 1/4 miles. Nine clash here, all with future starts over fences in mind. Nice to see Iranistan make it back, in his first start since September 2020 at Saratoga. Also cool to see Beyond The Pale, an Imagining 4-year-old out of Saratoga flat winner Rowdy for Elizabeth Voss. Leslie Young unveils Twentoneguns, a 5-year-old Virginia-bred gelding.
Joe: Iranistan, Cite, Glencorrib Sky.
Sean: Iranistan, Cite, Economic Policy.
Tom: Iranistan, Cite, Beyond The Pale.
Third race. $25,000 filly/mare maiden hurdle going 2 1/8 miles. This is a lot of money to give away to a four-horse field, but the only way to cultivate a filly/mare division is to provide opportunity. Three-year-old filly Cup Of Aiken returns eight days after finishing second at Shawan Downs. Invester makes her third jump start, off thirds in May and July. Bella Coola and Bust Out Lady get started over jumps.
Joe: Cup Of Aiken, Invester, Bust Out Lady.
Sean: Invester, Cup Of Aiken, Bella Coola.
Tom: Invester, Bust Out Lady, Cup Of Aiken.
Fourth race. $25,000 maiden hurdle going 2 1/8 miles. Seven go here. Master Plan has been third in his two jump starts. Quality Choice was second at Colonial Downs in July. Turbo Drive won $205,000 on the flat. The Flasche was third twice in the spring and second over the summer. Jim Key is an intriguing import, same with Homerhayes.
Joe: Jim Key, Homerhayes, The Flasche.
Sean: The Flasche, Homerhayes, Jim Key.
Tom: Master Plan, The Flasche, Quality Choice.
Fifth race. $10,000 apprentice optional claiming handicap hurdle going 2 1/8 miles. The conditions deliver a mixed bag let by 169-pound highweight Sempre Medici, plus the streaking Mighty Mark (3-for-3 this year), Shadow Seven from the Leslie Young barn, Global Freedom in his 2021 debut and 2020 winner Mr. Sarinana.
Joe: Mighty Mark, Shadow Seven, Global Freedom.
Sean: Mighty Mark, Global Freedom, Shadow Seven.
Tom: Mighty Mark, Global Freedom, Shadow Seven.
Sixth race. $20,000 handicap hurdle (110 and below) going 2 1/8 miles. Scratch Gostisbehere so it looks like eight runners, led by English winners Wightman, Peat Moss and Soramond, plus Animal Kingston and Decisive Triumph coming off a second at Colonial. Competitive race, again, with Soramond taking on the boys, Peat Moss getting in at 135 pounds and Decisive Triumph getting 10 pounds off for apprentice Stefan Tobin.
Joe: Decisive Triumph, Peat Moss, Soramond.
Sean: Soramond, Decisive Triumph, Peat Moss.
Tom: Soramond, Peat Moss, Eve’s City.