Road To Oz, Include It clash in Manor

- -
Road To Oz (here in 2021) looks for a fourth timber win for trainer Mark Beecher. Tod Marks photo

Let’s get this out of the way first. The TIHR handicapping team struck out last week at Old Dominion. Three NSA races, three punters, three goose eggs. Good thing there are more races this weekend.

Two Saturday stops, My Lady’s Manor in Maryland and Tryon Block House in North Carolina, offer five races apiece. The Manor’s all timber. Block House is hurdle racing plus a training flat. Both can be watched at the NSA website.

Looking ahead to next week, weights are out for the Temple Gwathmey, the first open hurdle stakes of the season. Snap Decision (162) heads a list of 11 in advance of final entries Monday. Other include Noah And The Ark (152), Vae Patron (148), Zabeel Champion (148), Awakened (146), Sebastopol (146), Cool Jet (142), Jimmy P (142), Scorpion’s Revenge (142), The Hero Next Door (142) and Eye Of Gunfighter (140). The $75,000 Gwathmey will be run at 2 1/2 miles at Glenwood Park in Middleburg, Va. Saturday. Snap Decision has run in the last three editions, winning in 2021 and 2023 and placing second in 2022. The Grade 2 is a key prep for Grade 1 opportunities at the Virginia Gold Cup May 4 and the Iroquois May 11.

Last week featured, other than bad handicapping, a maiden hurdle win by Hold Hard for Rolling Tide, Doug Fout and jockey Parker Hendriks. The Irish-bred ran down leader Clifton Down in the final stages to by a half-length. Travesuras was third. The same connections looked like they were going to win the filly/mare maiden hurdle, but Easy Squeeze fell at the last. Ivy Hill Stable’s Love Saga scored by a length over Camcha for trainer/jockey Sean McDermott. Split In Two finished third. Hendriks won the open timber as a trainer when Stewart Strawbridge’s Lap Of The Gods drew away from Family Tree late. Graham Watters rode the winner, subbing for the trainer who was injured in the prior race.

The handicapper leaderboard reads 6-6-3 (Joe-Sean-Tom).

Tryon Block House. Post time is 1:30 p.m. at the Green Creek Race Course in Columbus.

First race. $20,000 maiden claiming hurdle going 2 miles. Nine contest the opener. Bunker Hill, Dizzy Kitty, Jimmy Dan, Beowulf and Larger Than Life get to waive the claiming price due to the 120-day layoff rule. I Am Fortunata finished second last year, but fell at Camden. Jimmy Dan was second in a point-to-point start last week.

  • Joe: Jimmy Dan, Larger Than Life, Dizzy Kitty.
  • Sean: Jimmy Dan, Larger Than Life, I Am Fortunata.
  • Tom: Dizzy Kitty, Jimmy Dan, Trisaetum.

Second race. $30,000 maiden hurdle going 2 miles. Just six go in the straight maiden. Tufton Avenue (an Irish-bred with a Maryland Hunt Cup name) ran twice over hurdles in Ireland. Kelmscott was third twice last year and fourth at Camden. Smart Uncle’s flat form (he was second last year at Saratoga) will help. He’s by Uncle Mo and out of a daughter of a champion Forever Together. Made The Cut pulled up at Aiken, and ought to improve. Anzio finished second in a 3-year-old hurdle last year at Shawan. Ishihara was third in a point-to-point March 30.

  • Joe: Smart Uncle, Kelmscott, Anzio.
  • Sean: Smart Uncle, Kelmscott, Anzio.
  • Tom: Anzio, Tufton Avenue, Smart Uncle.

Third race. $25,000 conditioned claiming hurdle going 2 miles. A non-winners of two for $25,000 attracted six. Icandothat makes his 2024 debut after winning a maiden claimer at Montpelier late last year. Prophets Voices was second in the 110 handicap at Aiken. Bee Major leads the group in hurdle starts withs even. He returns to jumping after five starts on the flat. Secret Soulmate ruled a waiver claimer at Aiken in March, but finished behind Icandothat and Prophets Voice last year. Auciton Kingdom won a $25,000 maiden claimer at Great Meadow in October after finishing second to today’s rival Union Gen. George at Middleburg.

  • Joe: Auction Kingdom, Secret Soulmate, Icandothat.
  • Sean: Prophets Voice, Secret Soulmate, Icandothat.
  • Tom: Secret Soulmate, Auction Kingdom, Prophets Voice.

Fourth race. $35,000 Jennifer and Roger Smith handicap hurdle (120 and lower) going 2 miles. Six veterans tackle this as The Insider will scratch. Tease And Seize dominated a 115 handicap at Camden. This is deeper water, but he’s won four hurdle races (two in Britain, two in the United States). Soviet Pimpernel was a solid third to West Newton and Caramelised at Aiken. Rocket One makes his 2024 debut after winning twice as a 4-year-old last year. Ziggle Pops’ four-start jump career spans almost three years. He’s won twice (in 2021 and 2023). Go Poke The Bear won twice last year. L’Or Des Roses adds blinkers after a third to Tease And Seize last time.

  • Joe: Tease And Seize, Soviet Pimpernel, Rocket One.
  • Sean: Rocket One, Tease And Seize, Soviet Pimpernel.
  • Tom: Rocket One, Tease And Seize, Soviet Pimernel.

Fifth race. Training flat going 1 1/2 miles. Three-horse race. China Beach won at Camden two weeks ago. Seismic Wave won two stakes on the flat, and placed in three graded stakes for Juddmonte Farm. Over jumps, he’s won twice. Recent Revelations shakes off some rust.

  • Joe: Seismic Wave, China Beach, Recent Revelations.
  • Sean: Seismic Wave, China Beach, Recent Revelations.
  • Tom: Seismic Wave, China Beach, Recent Revelations.

My Lady’s Manor. After a few weeks of point-to-points, the Maryland timber scene heats up at its first NSA stop. It’s a Harford County tradition with racing, tailgating, some strong bluegrass music. The race dates to 1909. Its namesake is a 10,000-acre national historic district that spans three counties and is the home to numerous horse pursuits. In 1713, the third lord of Baltimore Charles Calvert gave the land to his wife Margaret. During the Revolutionary War, the land was confiscated and in 1782 sold to war veterans and tenants. Stop by Inverness Brewing for a pint before or after.

First race. $50,000 My Lady’s Manor timber stakes going 3 miles. Among its past winners are steeplechase heroes Jay Trump, Winton, Landing Party, Jacko and others. Sam Son Of A Gun won in four times. Ironfist won three in a row. Maryland Hunt Cup record holder Vintage Vinnie won it in 2021. This year produced a field of five, topped by Road To Oz and Include It. A 9-year-old by Quality Road, Road To Oz won his timber debut at the Manor in 2021. Two years ago, he won the Maryland Grand National timber race. He tuned up with a point-to-point win at Green Spring March 31. Like Road To Oz, Include It is a Maryland-bred who raced with trainer Mike Trombetta on the flat. Also 9, Include It has won all four NSA timber starts including at Cheshire March 31. He gets his toughest test yet. Timber veteran Royal Ruse ruled the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup in November and was second in the open race at Cheshire. Salamanca School finished second at Blue Ridge and tries to give trainer Leslie Young a third consecutive Manor.Our Friend won a maiden over the course in 2022. For the pedigree fans out there, Road To Oz was bred by Larry Johnson and traces to his foundation mare Ran’s Chick. Road To Oz and recent flashy maiden winner Mindframe (in the barn of Todd Pletcher) share a third dam, Special Kell. Include It was bred by Robert Meyerhoff and is related to a slew of solid flat performers including Grade 3 winner Hair Spray (the dam of stakes winner Sticky).

  • Joe: Road To Oz, Include It, Salamanca School.
  • Sean: Road To Oz, Include It, Royal Ruse.
  • Tom: Include It, Road To Oz, Our Friend.

Second race. $25,000 John Rush Streett Memorial allowance timber going 3 miles. Six go here, topped by Stolen Shoes, who won a maiden timber over the course last year, and Hard Strike, who scored at Cheshire. To Be Or Not To Be finished second here last year and won at Willowdale. Theda’s Boy, Hafajay and Huyana complete the group.

  • Joe: Hard Strike, Stolen Shoes, To Be Or Not To Be.
  • Sean: To Be Or Not To Be, Stolen Shoes, Hard Strike.
  • Tom: Stolen Shoes, Theda’s Boy, Hard Strike.

Third race. $20,000 Tom Voss Memorial maiden timber going 3 miles. Eight runners will make this a tactical test. Junonia tries timber after a decent hurdle career. Queens Empire made five timber starts last year – a third and four fourths. Druid’s Altar and Hero’s Return were second at Winterthur last year.

  • Joe: The Butler Yates, Junonia, Druid’s Altar.
  • Sean: The Butler Yates, Hero’s Return, Queens Empire.
  • Tom: Hero’s Return, Druid’s Alter, Queens Empire.

Fourth race. $20,000 Tom Voss Memorial maiden timber going 3 miles. Nice to see this race attract enough entries for a split. Wagner is a veteran of the British chasing and point-to-point scene with wins in his last three. Timber will be a new game, but he’s capable. Potus switches to timber off a hurdle win late last year. Ping Pong Champ exits a two-win hurdle career. Animal Kingston brings solid hurdle form and was second at Cheshire. Mekong was second at the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup last year. Feels like a tougher spot than the first division.

  • Joe: Wagner, Potus, Animal Kingston.
  • Sean: Wagner, Potus, Blackhall.
  • Tom: Animal Kingston, Ping Pong Champ, Potus.

Fifth race. $15,000 John Schapiro Memorial allowance timber going 3 miles. Restricted to apprentice jockeys, the finale drew a field of five. Two-time Maryland Hunt Cup winner Vintage Vinnie returns at age 15. Is he as good as he was? Probably not, but he might not need to be. Bogey’s Image looked like a solid hurdle prospect in 2021 and won voer timber in 2022. He didn’t run last year. Rhythmia won twice last year. Awesome Adrian is plenty capable on his best day. Our Legend won at Foxfield in 2022.

  • Joe: Bogey’s Image, Rhythmia, Awesome Adrian.
  • Sean: Bogey’s Image, Awesome Adrian, Rhythmia.
  • Tom: Vintage Vinnie, Awesome Adrian, Our Legend.