Steeplechase Picks & Preview: Va. Fall, Genesee head to post

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Cracker Factory rallies to win at Shawan Downs two weeks ago. Tod Marks photo

How was your fall break? American jump racing took a week off last week, we saw some jockeys in line for pit beef sandwiches at Timonium, but gets back on the proverbial horse in two locales Saturday.

Stately Glenwood Park hosts the Virginia Fall Races for an eight-race card of hurdle, timber and flat races in Middleburg, Va. Post time is 12:30 p.m. Up the road a ways, timber horses slug it out at Genesee Valley in Geneseo, N.Y. Enjoy the fall colors. Post time there is 1 p.m.

Two weeks ago at Shawan and Foxfield, the fall season got started and looked a lot like the spring season as Leslie Young won three at Shawan and two (plus a training flat) at Foxfield after a quiet summer. The leading trainer’s 27 wins are more than double Jack Fisher’s 13 with Arch Kingsley and Ricky Hendriks tied for third with eight apiece. At Shawan, Young won a maiden hurdle with newcomer Chosen Judge for owner Sharon Sheppard; the allowance hurdle with Total Joy for Noble Stable and the maiden timber with Salamanca School for Fat Chance Farm. At Foxfield, Young’s winners were The Hero Next Door in a training flat, plus Garrison Forest (maiden hurdle) and Arrowheart (handicap hurdle).

Outside the Young barn, Mr. Versatility Who’s Counting won the 120 handicap hurdle at Foxfield for owner/breeder South Branch Equine and trainer/jockey Sean McDermott. It was the 5-year-old’s sixth win – three each over jumps and on the flat. Stonelea Stable’s Afraid Not won the filly/mare maiden for Julie Gomena and Larry Smith sent Eye Of Gunfighter out for a maiden-claiming hurdle win (on the horse’s 13th try). Shawan saw Lightning Ridge win the 3-year-old maiden for KMSN Stable and Keri Brion while Fisher trainees Rocket One, South Mountain and Ping Pong Champ went 1-2-3 in a 115 handicap hurdle. Cracker Factory won the timber stakes for The Hundred Acre Field and trainer Mark Beecher while Chosen Mate and Virginia Korrell teamed up to win the amateur/apprentice timber for Armata Stable and trainer Ricky Hendriks.

The TIHR handicappers did OK, just OK. Joe tabbed three winenrs (Chosen Judge, Salamanca School and The Hero Next Door) while Tom had two (Rocket One and Salamanca School) and Sean had one (Afraid Not). Onward.

Virginia Fall. Eight races of all descriptions. The first goes at 12:30 p.m. Bring your binoculars, lean on a rock wall and watch them run across the back.

First race. $30,000 maiden hurdle going 2 1/8 miles. A full field of 10 topped by Look North off a third at Foxfield. Imperial Assassin was third in the spring and summer. Press Pause chased a good one home at Colonial in September. Gun Runner 4-year-old Outperform makes his debut.

  • Joe: Look North, Press Pause, Praghas Ceart.
  • Tom: Look North, Outperform, Press Pause.
  • Sean: Look North, Press Pause, Imperial Assassin.

Second race. $30,000 maiden hurdle going 2 1/8 miles. Nine go here. Experience matters at Glenwood and this group looks like it doesn’t have much. Dig a little, though. Travesuras was second to Chosen Judge at Shawan and a repeat should win this. Young dusts off Foxy Walk, second to Chosen Judge in an Irish point-to-point in April and a $60,000 purchase in May. Seattle Seahawk had seven point-to-point starts in Ireland, including a win in May. I Can Only Imagine won his only Irish point-to-point try and cost $68,000 in May. Better race than it might appear.

  • Joe: Foxy Walk, I Can Only Imagine, Travesuras.
  • Tom: Travesuras, Quick Master, Kiyomori.
  • Sean: Foxy Walk, Travesuras, Quick Master.

Third race. $30,000 handicap hurdle (115) going 2 1/8 miles. Stablemates South Mountain and Ping Pong Champ renew their rivalry and meet recent 110 winner Arrowheart, plus Withoutdestination (who is better than his last) and Seismic Wave in a solid, 10-horse field.

  • Joe: Withoutdestination, South Mountain, Seizing The Dream.
  • Tom: South Mountain, Arrowheart, Ping Pong Champ.
  • Sean: Arrowheart, South Mountain, Ping Pong Champ.

Fourth race. $50,000 National Sporting Library timber stakes going 3 1/4 miles. Seven line up for this and cover all the bases. Cracker Factory comes off a win. Tomgarrow will be tough to handle. Schoodic might be able to turn back time.

  • Joe: Cracker Factory, Tomgarrow, Schoodic.
  • Tom: Stooshie, Cracker Factory, Schoodic.
  • Sean: Cracker Factory, Tomgarrow, Stooshie.

Fifth race. $20,000 starter maiden hurdle going 2 1/8 miles. Keep breaking maidens. Supersteeplechasesire Flintshire has one in here, newcomer Scotty. King Tsunami has een running well on the flat all year. Auction Kingdom gets some class relief. Only four have run over jumps.

  • Joe: King Tsunami, Auction Kingdom, Scotty.
  • Tom: King Tsunami, Auction Kingdom, Scotty.
  • Sean: Samui Sunset, Auction Kingdom, Scotty.

Sixth race. $20,000 maiden timber going 3 miles. Seven tackle this while looking for their first wins over timber. Queens Empire seems overdue for a breakthrough. Hero’s Return has run well twice this year. Paddy’s Crown is capable.

  • Joe: Hero’s Return, City Of Grace, Queens Empire.
  • Tom: Hero’s Return, Queens Empire, Ya Boy Ya.
  • Sean: Hero’s Return, Queens Empire, Ya Boy Ya.

Seventh race. $25,000 cross-country timber going 2 5/8 miles. Twists, turns, jumps, this race has it all. Well, it could use a few more horses. Four give it a go. Storm Team should love it, Fashion Line won twice this spring. Court Ruler is always formidable. Brooklyn Speights hasn’t won since 2019, but was second to Storm Team in May.

  • Joe: Storm Team, Court Ruler, Brooklyn Speights.
  • Tom: Storm Team, Court Ruler, Fashion Line.
  • Sean: Court Ruler, Storm Team, Fashion Line.

Eighth race. Training flat going 1 1/4 miles. Three-year-old Clifton Down ran in France for Juddmonte. Restitution tries to get back on track. Evie’s Prince won at Mountaineer in September.

  • Joe: Clifton Down, Evie’s Prince, Macheeda.
  • Tom: Field Marshall, Scanno, Evie’s Prince.
  • Sean: Clifton Down, Evie’s Prince, Field Marshal.

Genesee Valley Hunt Races. Three NSA races on a mixed card with a little bit of everything. Post time is 1 p.m. for the first NSA race.

First race. $15,000 maiden timber going 3 miles. Four runners, each a mystery. Mr. Fine Threads won last year but was disqualified, and was second in April.

  • Joe: Mr. Fine Threads, The Butler Yates, Lost Story.
  • Tom: Lost Story, Mr. Fine Threads, The Butler Yates.
  • Sean: The Butler Yeats, Mr. Fine Threads, Lost Story.

Second race. $25,000 Genesee Valley Hunt Cup timber stakes going 3 1/2 miles. Four stalwarts get back together. Andi’amu won this last year by a dozen. He’s now with Neil Morris and tuned up with a third at Shawan. Monbeg Stream won the Grand National in April. Renegade River is plenty capable, as is Royal Ruse.

  • Joe: Monbeg Stream, Andi’amu, Royal Ruse.
  • Tom: Andi’amu, Royal Ruse, Renegade River.
  • Sean: Monbeg Stream, Renegade River, Royal Ruse.

Third race. $10,00 amateur/apprentice allowance timber going 3 miles. The finale attracted six including Shawan winners Chosen Mate and Salamanca School. Awesome Adrian is plenty tough.

  • Joe: Salamanca School, Chosen Mate, Awesome Adrian.
  • Tom: Salamanca School, Rahkaa, Chosen Mate.
  • Sean: Salamanca School, Chosen Mate, Awesome Adrian.