Betting? There’s betting? There’s betting. In a rarity for American jump racing, you can put your money down for real at the Virginia Gold Cup meeting Saturday at Great Meadow.
The on-site only betting won’t generate much handle, but it’s a test for the future and a milestone of sorts as only Fair Hill currently offers pari-mutuel wagering among National Steeplechase Association meets. Whether you’re betting or not, it’s a great card so enjoy the show if you can’t be at Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby.
And if that’s not enough, Delaware hosts its one and only jump meet Sunday afternoon with the Winterthur Races. The all-timber, one-flat card is a great way to end the weekend. The fearless TIHR handicappers are back for another go. The race is tight. Joe leads with 17 winners (three last weekend), Tom is second with 15 (two) and Sean is third with 11.
Virginia Gold Cup at Great Meadow in The Plains. First race 1:30 p.m. Win, place, show, exacta and trifecta wagering on-site only. Take your money.
First Race. Steeplethon over varied course of timber, hurdle, water and other obstacles natural and man made. Seven entered including specialist Swimming River. Tough calls, given all the variables.
- Joe: Schoolhouse Woods, Swimming River, Saluda Sam.
- Tom: Saluda Sam, Schoolhouse Woods, Swimming River.
- Sean: Swimming River, Saluda Sam, Schoolhouse Woods.
Second Race. $25,000 maiden hurdle. Tough group. Really tough group. Three come off runner-up efforts while Jonathan Sheppard runs a first-timer by Theatrical.
- Joe: Kingdom, Cognashene, Operation Tracer.
- Tom: Kingdom, Cognashene, Gokokogo.
- Sean: Cognashene, Kingdom, Puller.
Third Race. $30,000 allowance hurdle. Another good field. Sacred Soul comes off a nice maiden score at Middleburg two weeks ago. Fantastic Song, Bluegrass Summer and Rudyard K enter off wins. Plus last year’s 3-year-old standouts More Tea Vicar and Top Man Michael.
- Joe: Bodie Island, Sacred Soul, Fantastic Song.
- Tom: Sacred Soul, Bluegrass Summer, Orebanks.
- Sean: Top Man Michael, Sacred Soul, Bodie Island.
Fourth Race. $30,000 starter allowance hurdle. Mixed bag, but competitive group of veterans, newcomers, and so on.
- Joe: Brave Prospect, Apse, Seer.
- Tom: Brave Prospect, Apse, Mischief.
- Sean: Brave Prospect, Apse, Mischief.
Fifth Race. $75,000 Virginia Gold Cup. The 4-mile timber feature attracted a solid field including stakes winners Grinding Speed, Straight To It, Moonsox and Alfa Beat.
- Joe: Straight To It, Grinding Speed, Alfa Beat.
- Tom: Straight to It, Grinding Speed, Moonsox.
- Sean: Straight To It, Dakota Slew, Moonsox.
Sixth Race. $15,000 maiden claiming hurdle. Eight signed on, all looking for a diploma including the overdue Gawaarib and Annawon.
- Joe: Gawaarib, Annawon, Brace.
- Tom: Gawaarib, Trappe d’Or, Annawon.
- Sean: Gawaarib, Papa Carlos, Annawon.
Winterthur. You can talk about the Derby, the Gold Cup and anything else at Sunday’s stop just outside Wilmington, Del. Post time is 2 p.m. for the meet the locals just call “point-to-point.” Don’t tell them it’s the only one.
First Race. $10,000 maiden timber. Tough spot, maybe even tougher than the open race later in the card. Several worth watching for the future, including hurdle stakes winner Port Morsbey, highly regarded On The Corner and De Chera (a half-brother to Belmont Stakes winner Da’ Tara.
- Joe: De Chera, Port Morsbey, On The Corner.
- Tom: Almarmooq, Be Great, Port Morsbey.
- Sean: Port Morsbey, Hay Jack Black, Almarmooq.
Second Race. $20,000 open timber. Field of seven headed by stakes winner Triple Dip and recent winner Old Timer. Maiden Imperial Way takes a shot and could be any kind.
- Joe: Old Timer, Peace Fire, Imperial Way.
- Tom: Ebanour, Old Timer, Peace Fire.
- Sean: Peace Fire, Imperial Way, Old Timer.
Third Race. $7,500 amateur timber. Throw a dart.
- Joe: Lear Of The Cat, Gerrymander, Dax.
- Tom: Dax, Gerrymander, Kings Canyon.
- Sean: King’s Canyon, Dax, Lear Of The Cat.
Fourth Race. Training flat.
- Joe: Staying On, Hidden Trail, Life’s A Roar.
- Tom: Life’s a Roar, Staying On, Hidden Trail.
- Sean: Staying On, Life’s A Roar, Imperial Gin.