Picks & Preview for Old Dominion

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Mystical Man tries to win his first race as a hurdler in the maiden at Old Dominion Saturday. Tod Marks photo

Week Three and it’s a new (well, old) stop as the NSA sanctions three races at the Old Dominion Hounds Point-to-Point at Ben Venue Farm in Washington, Va. The 49th race meet includes a total mixed bag of races on the flat, over hurdles and over timber. Post time for the first is noon, but the NSA races go at 12:30 p.m., 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.

The races fill what would have been an open weekend on the NSA calendar and hopefully are here to stay as opportunity matters. More races will ultimately reward more horses and humans.

Last week, English import Caramelised caught Welshman late to win the Carolina Cup novice hurdle stakes at Camden, S.C. Owned by Gill Johnston and Sharon Sheppard, the 5-year-old Dansili gelding rallied after the last fence for David England to win by a length in his American debut. Welshman was 7 ½ lengths clear of Step To The Bar in third. Caramelised won for the fourth time over hurdles – two races for 3-year-olds in 2021 and a handicap last year for Alan King. Trainer Leslie Young found Caramelised for Sheppard and Johnston, who teamed up with 10-time winner Greek Hero in the late 1990s and early 2000s, via agent Hamish Macauley late last year and has been impressed.

“He hasn’t put a foot wrong since he got here,” Young said. “He’s sweet, he’s kind, he’s very willing and has been super happy.”

Young won two other races on the card, a maiden claimer with Lumberjack and a maiden with first-timer The Hero Next Door. Met In Miami won another maiden for Kate and Bernie Dalton while Fightinirishtabit took the 115 handicap for trainer Ricky Hendriks and owner Daniel Denefrio.

In the TIHR handicapping race, Joe went 4-for-6 at Camden with wins by The Hero Next Door, Fightinirishtabit, Caramelised and Cibolian in the training flat. Sean came up with Fightinirishtabit and Cibolian while Tom had Cibolian. The early leaderboard has Joe and Sean tied at the top with seven winners. Tom is third with five.

On to Old Dominion, which will be on the NSA livestream.

First race. $25,000 filly/mare maiden hurdle going 2 miles. Nine show up for what looks like a competitive race. Irish import Fox In The Park makes her debut for Young, who also brings in first-timer Right Tempo. The latter, bred in France by American Magalen Bryant, cost $86,000 in February off a second in an Irish point-to-point. Fits The Jill was second at Aiken last fall. Fox Force Five is a half-sister to hurdle winner Mr. Bridger.

  • Joe: Right Tempo, Fits The Jill, Lacey Underall.
  • Sean: Fits The Jill, Right Tempo, Fox In The Park.
  • Tom: Fits The Jill, Dream North, Fox In The Park.

Second race. $25,000 maiden hurdle going 2 miles. The maximum 10 runners meet here, several with decent form including Be Yourself who was second to Cross Border at Aiken last month. Hoffman placed three times as a 3-year-old last year. Mystical Man was second at Callawy Gardens and has won three times on the flat. Keys Discount finished second, ahead of Hoffman, at Shawan last fall. By The Riverside cost $40,000 last year in Ireland.

  • Joe: Mystical Man, By The Riverside, Hoffman.
  • Sean: Mystical Man, Rewind, Keys Discount.
  • Tom: Hoffman, Mystical Man, Keys Discount.

Third race. $15,000 open timber going 3 miles. Five-runner race gives timber horses another chance. Veteran Storm Team returns at age 9. It only seems like he’s been at this forever, but he started over jumps in 2018 after being part of the Alan Goldberg barn on the flat. The son of Candy Ride won three over hurdles and has added five over timber since making that conversion in 2020. He’s been 1-2-3 in every timber race he’s finished and should be on the lead Saturday. He gets a test from Mercoeur and Rakhaa, both trained by Young, Stooshie and Nathanielhawthorne.

  • Joe: Storm Team, Mercoeur, Rakhaa.
  • Sean: Storm Team, Mercoeur, Rakhaa.
  • Tom: Storm Team, Rakhaa, Stooshie.