Virginia Fall, Genesee picks & preview

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Storm Team, here flying a fence at Shawan, looks for a second consecutive timber stakes win at Virginia Fall Saturday.
Tod Marks photo

Virginia Fall? Already? Genesee Valley? Already? Autumn jump racing in the United States goes by in a hurry, as the calendar turns to October and race meets bring action to the various corners of the schedule. This weekend it’s historic Glenwood Park outside Middleburg, Va. for the Virginia Fall Races and the historic Genesee Valley timber meet in Geneseo, N.Y. 

Virginia Fall used to be spaced over two days, which was fun (if a little awkward scheduling-wise), but packs about two days of action into Saturday’s eight-race card. The day features a $30,000 timber stakes, some solid maiden hurdle fields and plenty more. Post time is 12:30 p.m. You can watch the live stream via the National Steeplechase Association website. 

While we’re here, nominations are out for next weeks blockbuster card at Far Hills, N.J. Irish and English raiders will be over, Snap Decision aims for the $250,000 American Grand National and just be ready for plenty of quality racing – and here’s hoping no more rain in north Jersey. Last year’s Grand National winner and jump champion The Mean Queen apparently won’t make a repeat attempt as she’s back on the shelf (temporarily, racing fans hope). Check out the stakes nominations here (scroll down when you get there). Entries available Monday.

Last weekend at Foxfield, soft turf made its mark as horses either loved it or floundered. Jockey Parker Hendriks figured out where the good ground was and won two over hurdles – the maiden with Jimmy P for new jump owner Madaket Stable) and the 110 handicap with He’ll Do. He leads all jockeys with 19 wins, with Tom Garner and Freddie Procter tied for second with 11. Leslie Young (25 wins) and Keri Brion (23) are battling atop the trainer standings with Jack Fisher third at 13. It’s a long way back to fourth as Mark Beecher and Joe Davies have five wins apiece.

As for the TIHR handicappers, Joe found two winners at Foxfield – Saigon (who should count double) in the filly/mare maiden and Fast Vision apprentice-jockey handicap hurdle. Sean had Jimmy P in the maiden while Tom tabbed He’ll Do in the 110 handicap. There’s a little separation in the fall handicapping contest as Joe leads Sean 5-4 with Tom third at 2. 

And here’s a look at Virginia Fall:

First race. $30,000 maiden hurdle going 2 1/8 miles. Eight signed up for this. Hard Spun gelding Arrowheart makes his debut for Young. The New York-bred is 0-for-13 lifetime. Doug Fout unveils French import Gold, third over jumps at Dieppe in May. Thai Terrier finished third over hurdles at Colonial Downs in August for Kathy Neilson. Potus finished sixth over hurdles at Colonial in July for Fisher. Neil Morris shows up with flat stakes winner Seismic Wave, second twice over hurdles at Colonial this summer. Brionnas and Hendriks team up with German-bred Machenbank, beaten double digits in all three jump starts so far. Fisher sends out Irish-bred South Mountain, third twice in six starts over hurdles in England, for his American debut. Beecher and owner/rider Alex Leventhal turn up with first-timer R S One.

Joe: South Mountain, Potus, Machenbank.
Sean: Potus, Gold, South Mountain.
Tom: South Mountain, Thai Terrier, Potus.

Second race. $25,000 Handicap hurdle (115 and below) going 2 1/8 miles. Eight tough guys (well, two are tough girls) turn up for this. Ladies first: Lear Avia won a maiden claimer at Willowdale in May and has run well – typically up front early – in filly/mare maidens for Todd Wyatt. She gets in with 139 pounds and might be tough to catch around Glenwood. Brion counters with German-bred mare Molly Fantasy in her U.S. debut. She’s rated 99 in Ireland, but ran well twice in August including a win at Tramore. Welshman hasn’t been able to match his runaway maiden win at Foxfield in April, but might appreciate a return to a hunt meet after three racetrack tries. Telegram exits a solid second at Shawan, his first start in more than a year. Yankee Doodle Boy is better than that last run. Queens Empire keeps running middling races and was beaten just 3 lengths by Going Country at Middleburg in April. Mr. Bridger placed in two of these at Colonial. He’ll probably appreciate the return to a hunt meet too. Twenty Years On dominated at Willowdale in May, and floundered at Colonial in July.

Joe: Welshman, Lear Avia, Queens Empire.
Sean: Telegram, Queens Empire, Welshman.
Tom: Queens Empire, Molly Fantasy, Yankee Doodle Boy.

Third race. $30,000 National Sporting Library and Museum Cup timber stakes going 3 ¼ miles. Storm Team gets back to work off a win at Shawan and is 3-for-4 at Glenwood. He’ll have to deal with Cracker Factory off a win at Shawan, the capable Royal Ruse, April winner Boutonniere, stakes winner Mystic Strike and Flaming Sword. 

Joe: Storm Team, Cracker Factory, Royal Ruse.
Sean: Storm Team, Royal Ruse, Mystic Strike. 
Tom:  Storm Team, Mystic Strike, Royal Ruse.

Fourth race. $15,000 maiden hurdle going 2 ⅛ miles. Love these race conditions, where the race is restricted to horses who have started for a claiming price of $20,000 or less on the flat or over jumps. The race divided into two (also the fifth race) so clearly the need was there. Now, try to find a winner. 

Joe: Mission Brief, Top Brass, Hail To The Chief.
Sean: Quality Choice, Mission Brief, Top Brass.
Tom: Market Bubble, Mission Brief, Top Brass.

Fifth race. $15,000 maiden hurdle going 2 ⅛ miles. Companion race to the fourth. Like the third, questions abound. 

Joe: Hero’s Return, Robert’s Luxury, Hey Teacher.
Sean: Hero’s Return, Hey Teacher, Robert’s Luxury.
Tom: Left Blank, Hey Teacher, Hero’s Return.

Sixth race. $15,000 maiden timber going 3 miles. Court Ruler converts to timber off four solid races over hurdles in the last year. He won at Radnor and Camden this spring. Lonely Weekend won over hurdles in 2020, missed a year and returned as a timber horse this spring.

Joe: Lonely Weekend, Court Ruler, Stooshie.
Sean: Mr. Fine Threads, Lonely Weekend, Court Ruler.
Tom: Court Ruler, Lonely Weekend, Stooshie.

Seventh race. $20,000 cross-country timber going 2 ⅝ miles. The jumps are just about everything. The turns matter, a lot. Who’s up for this? Bodes Well has won two in a row, one over this course. Gaye Breeze might like this. Duc de Meran is plenty capable off a long layoff. 

Joe: Bodes Well, Duc De Meran, Gaye Breeze.
Sean: Bodes Well, Duc De Meran, Gaye Breeze. 
Tom: Bodes Well, Duc de Meran, Nathanielhawthorne.

Eighth race. Training flat going 1 ¼ miles. 
Joe: Modus Operandi, Blue Nile, Quidditch.
Sean: Modus Operandi, Lumberjack, Blue Nile. 
Tom: Modus Operandi, High Mounte, Quidditch.

Genesee Valley.

Three NSA timber races are part of a full day of action at the upstate New York meet. Post time is 1 p.m. Learn more here at the Genesee Valley website.

First race. $15,000 maiden timber going 3 miles. Three-horse field – Notjudginjustsayin from Fisher, Great Road from Joe Davies and Adjutant from Kathy Neilson. 

Joe: Notjudginjustsayin, Great Road, Adjutant.
Sean: Notjudginjustsaying, Great Road, Adjutant.
Tom: Notjudginjustsayin, Great Road, Adjutant.

Second race. $10,000 allowance timber going 3 miles. Four go in this one, restricted to apprentice jockeys. Mercoeur will be tough to handle. Master Seville won at Cheshire in March. Withoutmoreado won at Winterthur in May. 

Joe: Mercoeur, Master Seville, Withoutmoreado.
Sean: Mercoeur, Master Seville, Withoutmoreado.
Tom: Mercoeur, Withoutmoreado, Master Seville.

Third race. $25,000 Genesee Valley Hunt Cup timber stakes going 3 ½ miles. Andi’amu gets away from Storm Team and looks like a clear favorite in a field of five. The French-bred was second at Shawan after winning twice in the spring and has been 1-2 in every timber race he’s finished.

Joe: Andi’amu, Our Legend, Shootist.
Sean: Andi’amu, Our Legend, Goodoldtimes.
Tom: Andi’amu, Our Legend, Goodoldtimes.