Picks & Preview: Radnor caps spring

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Preakness Day. At Radnor. Baltimore may be all about the second jewel of the Triple Crown, but suburban Philadelphia goes jumping Saturday with the Radnor Hunt Races on the grounds of the Radnor Hunt Club in Malvern, Pa.

The races go to the post for the 91st time at the historic site, home to the W. Burling Cocks Memorial Race Course. The Hall of Fame trainer was a frequent visitor to the Radnor winner’s circle, and it’s nice to remember his impact on the game each May. The 2022 card includes five races, and brings the spring season to a close. Racing turns to racetrack stops at Colonial Downs in Virginia and Saratoga in New York through June, July and August.

The TIHR handicapping challenge is fast-becoming the Sean Clancy show as he blasted another five-timer last week to reach 24 on the year. Sean came up with Snap Decision and Monbeg Stream at the Iroquois and rattled off Lear Avia, Mojave and Andi’amu at Willowdale. Tom Law had Snap Decision, Twenty Years On and Andi’amu last week to reach 21 on the season. Joe Clancy is off the pace with 16 wins, after tabbing Snap Decision and Down Royal last week.

Speaking of last week, the Iroquois showcased some of the best of 2022 with Snap Decision landing the $150,000 Iroquois for Bruton Street-US, trainer Jack Fisher and jockey Graham Watters. English raider Pistol Whipped settled for second with Amschel third. With The Mean Queen missing the spring season, Snap Decision takes the lead at the top of the race for the championship, but the summer and fall will no doubt tell the tale. Who runs when and where? The ultimate goal will be October’s American Grand National at Far Hills in October.

Irv Naylor’s Scorpion’s Revenge broke through with a nice novice hurdle score at the Iroquois for trainer Cyril Murphy and jockey Barry Foley. The 6-year-old is quietly putting together a nice run with a maiden win last fall at Montpeler, a second to Going Country at Middleburg in April and then the stakes triumph.

Trainer Leslie Young won five races last week – two at Nashville with Fast Vision and Monbeg Stream and a triple at Willowdale with Andi’amu, Mojave and Perfect Tapatino to build out a solid lead in the standings. She’s won 18 races this year, four more than Keri Brion with Fisher third at seven. Parker Hendriks’ 12 wins lead the jockeys, followed by visiting amateur Freddie Procter with nine and Tom Garner, Graham Watters and apprentice Teddy Davies with six each.

On to Radnor. Stay cool out there.

First race. $25,000 maiden hurdle going 2 1/8 miles. Last chance for a spring maiden win. A year ago, Romp was third in the Sir Barton on the Preakness undercard. The 4-year-old Orb gelding was fourth at Great Meadow. Project Two was second there for Young. Brion counters with Parish Delight, second at Camden. Beowulf was third at Charlotte and will try to slay the dragons at Radnor. Zarkallani makes his debut for Fisher.

Joe: Romp, Parish Delight, Project Two.
Tom: Zarkallani, Project Two, Beowulf.
Sean: Romp, Project Two, Beowulf.

Second race. $10,000 maiden claiming hurdle going 2 1/8 miles. Westerland tries again while making his 13th start over hurdles. Nobody else has made more than three. Brion adds Lasix with the mare Fiddlyn, who has yet to finish in two tries. Agravain exits a maiden special weight. Felix Leiter turns around after finishing fourth at Willowdale.  

Joe: Always Cool, Agravain, Brevard Place.
Tom: Agravain, Brevard Place, Temple City Blvd.
Sean: Agravain, Felix Leiter, Temple City Blvd. 

Third race. $20,000 Radnor Hunt Cup open timber going 3 1/4 miles. Plenty of familiar names in this field of five. Storm Team and Tomgarrow figure. Royal Ruse looks to salvage his spring after a third at Cheshire, a fall at the Grand National and a second at Winterthur. Bogey’s Image gets 20 pounds and wouldn’t be out of place in a hurdle race.

Joe: Storm Team, Bogey’s Image, Tomgarrow.
Tom: Royal Ruse, Tomgarrow, Storm Team.
Sean: Storm Team, Tomgarrow, Bogey’s Image.

Fourth race. $30,000 National Hunt Cup hurdle handicap (120) going 2 3/8 miles. Mixed bag of 11 runners turn up for this. Newcomers Spring Heeled Jim and Baltimore Kid give away heaps of experience but exit recent maiden wins. Veterans Gaye Breeze, Animal Kingston, Mr. Bridger and Court Ruler are in good form. Family Tree is talented enough to content. Booby Trap won at Saratoga last summer. State Of Affair should move forward for the run at Great Meadow.

Joe: State Of Affair, Baltimore Kid, Gaye Breeze.
Tom: Court Ruler, State Of Affair, Animal Kingston.
Sean: Booby Trap, State Of Affair, Baltimore Kid.

Fifth race. $10,000 maiden starter hurdle going 2 1/4 miles. Love the concept as this race is restricted to horses who have stared for a claiming price on the flat or over jumps but carries no claiming price itself. Cause For Pardon has placed in nine of 12 over jumps, all in tougher company. Ditto for Market Bubble in his eight starts and five placings. Quality Choice has been second twice, so has Hero’s Return. Pleasecallmeback’s flat form is good enough.

Joe: Quality Choice, Cause For Pardon, Pleasecallmeback.
Tom: Cause For Pardon, Lowcountry, Ondalove.
Sean: Cause For Pardon, Quality Choice, Hero’s Return.