Gil Johnston’s Mr. Hot Stuff and jockey Paddy Young returned to the races in the Middleburg (Va.) Spring’s $50,000 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) on Saturday, and together they denied Irv Naylor’s Decoy Daddy a third straight victory by a neck. All Together finished third, and Staying On claimed fourth money.
Trained by Jack Fisher, Mr. Hot Stuff was making his first start since finishing fourth in the 2013 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) at Saratoga Race Course. In his previous start three weeks earlier, he had won Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Young, a four-time champion jockey, was riding his first race meet of the season.
Decoy Daddy, conceding 10 pounds to the winner, ran a strong race under Carol-Ann Sloan in his 13-year-old debut. Mr. Hot Stuff, who finished third in the 2009 Santa Anita Derby (Gr. 1), ran the Temple Gwathmey’s 2 1/2 miles in 5:34.60 on turf rated as good.
Armata Stables’ Cornhusker edged Super Saturday by three-quarters of a length in the $30,000 Middleburg Hunt Cup, the Virginia meet’s timber feature. Sol a Pino finished third.
With Jeff Murphy in the saddle for trainer Alicia Murphy, Cornhusker ran the Middleburg Hunt Cup’s 3 1/4 miles in 7:00.20. Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Eclipse Award winner Demonstrative continued to tune toward his first hurdle start of the year with a half-length victory over Dr. Skip in a 1 1/2-mile training flat race.
Young, a three-time National Steeplechase Association riding champion, was aboard his first three winners this season on the afternoon’s eight-race card. The three victories tied him atop the NSA leading rider standings, after seven stops on the circuit, along with defending champion Willie McCarthy and Gerard Galligan.
Kings Giant wins by photo in Atlanta:
Kings Giant wins by photo in Atlanta:Magalen O. Bryant’s Kings Giant set most of the pace in the $35,000 Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle and held off a determined challenge from En Fuego to prevail by a short head at Saturday’s 50th edition of the Atlanta Steeplechase.
Plated finished third, and Nearby took fourth in the two-mile race over National Fences. With champion jockey and Camden resident Willie McCarthy riding for Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, Kings Grant ran the distance in 3:50.40 on a Kingston Race Course rated as good.
Gil Johnston’s En Fuego, with veteran Irish jockey Danny Mullins in the saddle, mounted a strong challenge approaching the final fence, and the two leaders jumped it together. They battled head-to-head to the finish line, with Kings Grant getting to the line first in a photo finish.
A five-year-old Giant’s Causeway gelding, Kings Giant remained undefeated over fences. He won his initial start, a maiden hurdle at the Charleston Cup last November.
In the day’s opener, a $20,000 maiden claiming hurdle, Mullins rode Dynafortwo to a 4 ¼-length victory for Fisher. Finishing second was Petak Mountain, with McCarthy up, for Camden-based trainer Arch Kingsley Jr.
McCarthy was second aboard Yellow Mountain in the $30,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle with Camden’s Bernie Dalton coming home third with Highflyingblessing, trained by his wife, Kate Dalton.
Jazz Napravnik, who runs her stable out of the Springdale Race Course, saddled So Outspoken which carried Mark Watts to a victory in a $25,000 Ratings Handicap Hurdle in Atlanta while Camden-based trainer Lilith Boucher had Mullins in the irons for a winning ride aboard Happy Landing in the training flat race.
Serene Harbor adds to win streak over timber:
Serene Harbor adds to win streak over timber:Welcome Here Farm’s Serene Harbor took the lead at the third to last fence of the 113th Grand National and repelled a late challenge from Senior Senator to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Raven’s Choice finished third, 11 1/2 lengths farther back in Saturday’s middle jewel of the Maryland Timber Triple Crown.
Trained by Todd McKenna and ridden by Annie Yeager, Serene Harbor completed the 3 1/4 miles of the $30,000 Grand National in 6:05.20 on firm turf.
Bred in Pennsylvania by Nina Gardner, wife of Welcome Here owner Timothy Gardner, 12-year-old Serene Harbor won his second consecutive timber stakes. The Valley Crossing gelding scored a runaway victory in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup last October.
Michael Wharton’s Grinding Speed won the first race in the Timber Triple, the My Lady’s Manor, and is expected to pursue a second victory in the Virginia Gold Cup on May 2. The final race of the series, the storied Maryland Hunt Cup, will be run on Saturday, April 25, in Glyndon.
Second leg of novice series on deck:
Second leg of novice series on deck:The second of three novice series races for jumpers will be contested Saturday with the $75,000 Queen’s Cup MPC Chase in Mineral Springs, N.C.
Diplomat, winner of the $75,000 Carolina Cup in Camden on March 28, has exhausted his novice conditions and is not in the eight-horse field.
Sporty, which finished fifth in the Camden feature, is the lone horse from that race entered into the Queen’s Cup feature. Among the entries is Dogwood Stable’s Street Fight, trained in Camden by Kingsley. The 6-year-old Street Cry gelding, which was second in the Aiken $50,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup in Aiken on March 21, will have Dalton in the irons on Saturday.
Dalton was aboard Diplomat for the win in Camden last month and currently is the NSA leader in money earned with his mounts having brought in $77,450. McCarthy is next with $74,050.
The final leg of the novice series will be the $75,000 Marcellus Frost Stakes to be contested as part of the in 74th annual Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville on May 9.