All of the inside scoop on Virginia's biggest day of Steeplechase racing -- the Virginia Gold Cup. Hey, 50,000 of your closest friends can't be wrong! Do you have your tickets yet?

Thursday, April 30, 2009


When it comes to anticipation, the only day better than the Thursday before the Virginia Gold Cup is the Friday before the Virginia Gold Cup, don’t you know?

In the grocery store last night for a few items when we eyeballed a beer sale related to Cinco de Mayo (what we like to call Post-Gold Cup Tuesday), and we thought “Hmmm…”

Well, it is Gold Cup weekend, there are college buddies and wives coming to town so why not stock up now and get ahead of the crowd? Don’t tell us we aren’t doing our part to stimulate the “Bubble Economy.”

Speaking of Bubble Economy, he didn’t scratch out of the $75,000 Virginia Gold Cup, but the undefeated My Lady’s Manor winner Incomplete and Private Attack both withdrew from the race. So now there are nine horses in the feature event.

And…speaking of our friends from Subaru, we wager (hypothetically speaking, of course) that they will have a few cars on display at Great Meadow on Saturday (sans the disinterested looking Russian model). Be sure to check them out.

Being a fan of racing, and road rally racing in particular, we’re gonna have to check out the standard model of the Impreza pictured above driven by Israeli rally driver Yuval Melamid zipping through the FIA Middle East Rally Championship near the Dead Sea in Jordan.

Drive safely!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


You may remember this one from 2007, but the picture is funny and we thought it was worth bringing back one more time…

By now you should have figured out what you are going to wear...

Here is one last minute tip: DON'T WEAR THIS. For starters, who knew they even made black metalic duct tape?

Secondly, the taped-up face is gonna scare, your friends, your date, your spouse, Homeland Security, you name it.

Bad idea, OK?

Finally, your tan lines are going to make you look like a Halloween pumpkin.

Get back in your closet and try again.


Eleven timber steeplechase horses have been entered in Saturday’s 84th running of the $75,000 Virginia Gold Cup. The two previous winners – Virginia-bred Salmo in 2007 (pictured) and Bubble Economy in 2008 – will face-off against nine “wanna-bes” tackling the four mile course that features 23 timber fences.

One of the contenders looking to grab the cash and the Gold Cup trophy is Seeyouattheevent who won the International Gold Cup over the same Great Meadow course in October of 2007.

The field also slated to include Incomplete, an 8-year-old bay, who is 3-for-3 in National Steeplechase Association-sanctioned races since beginning his career over timber two years ago. In his last start he won the 99th running of the My Lady’s Manor Steeplechase.

Runner-ups at My Lady’s Manor South Monarch and J. Alfred Prufrock are also entered. As predicted here five weeks ago, EMO Stables’ Orison has successfully made the switch from hurdles to timber and he to is entered in the Gold Cup.

Last time out, 2008 Gold Cup winner Bubble Economy defeated the International Gold Cup winner Seeyouattheevent in the Middleburg Hunt Cup at the Middleburg Spring Races. Gold Cup entrant Erin Go Bragh (NZ) was third in that race.

Scratches for the day’s card are due in at the National Steeplechase office later today.

To see all the entries for the day’s six races click here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


The Going Out Gurus at the Washington Post had this to say this morning:

Another Chance for Gold Cup - Three weeks ago, we wrote about a number of the available party options for the Virginia Gold Cup steeplechase races.

Almost all of them sold out in a matter of days. If you missed your chance to join University Row, the party area featuring an open bar, catered lunch and a huge meet-and-greet with alumni from more than 50 schools, a limited amount of tickets just went on sale for one of the tents, including passes that offer round-trip bus transportation from D.C. (This tent is sponsored by Marquette, but as is the case across University Row, you don't have to be an alumni of to attend.)

We're guessing these won't last long, so pick up your tickets, then start picking out your sundress or seersucker. We'll see you on Saturday. -- Fritz


Are you kidding?

Evidently, Paris Hilton, who recently released her ninth perfume (called Famous For Being Famous?) has decided to attend the Kentucky Derby in lieu of the 84th running of the Virginia Gold Cup this Saturday.

What is she thinking?

Oh, yeah…

We checked in with gossip guru Perez Hilton who knows all about being famous for being famous and everything famous people are doing and why. Perez explained that Paris was attending the Derby because, as she told the New York Post earlier this week, “I don't care what anybody says. Baseball is not our national pastime.”

So is horse racing our “national pastime?”

Man, we’re confused.

Anyway, that shouldn’t matter to you because you are coming to the Gold Cup to be seen, not to see Paris Hilton or anybody else...although there will be a few celebs mixed in the revelry!

We look forward to seeing you.


So Belle over at Capitol Hill Style is having a little bit of anxiety about what she is going to wear on Saturday saying “..many of my friends are furiously trying to find something to wear. The concern has now become that if they go shopping at J. Crew, Nordstrom, Tickled Pink (or any of the other traditional options) they will wind up wearing the same thing as someone else. This is an understandable fear.”

Wow, it’s good to be a guy.

We have to worry about finding a designated driver, not forgetting the tickets and avoiding the Swine Flu.

Really, we already know we are going to show up at Great Meadow on Saturday wearing the same thing – pants, for example. Shoes and a shirt are likely as well, and sport coats are optional. A hat’s not a bad idea, or sunscreen, as needed.

For example, check out these guys. They are all dressed similarly, but not the same. Evidently, if you’re a dude, that’s acceptable. No stress involved. Usually, guys choose their “outfits” for a big day like the Gold Cup based on one very strict criteria – “clean.”

Now, we understand the pressure on women not to show up wearing the identical Lily Whats-Her-Name dress as one of her friends or fellow party goers.

So measures can be taken. Belle suggests the Sunday Brunch Dress Shop for an original dress.

We simply suggest you reach into the closet and find the most unique outfit you have or go buy a new one like Belle suggests (after all it’s good for the economy). Now check out these this group. The young woman is wearing a flower print sun dress which probably has some probability of duplication, but since there are millions of permutations and combinations involving colors, flowers and prints, we wager she gets away with this.

Which brings us to the guys – Far Left Guy looks like he strolled out of W&L or UVa frat party. Classic, but easily duplicated. We’d recommend a tie that makes more of a statement.

Hmm…like Center Guy, now that’s a tie and if somebody else is wearing it on the First Saturday In May we’d be shocked.

And that brings us to Far Right Guy. Home run, dude. We don’t know who designed the sport coat, but there had to be a party involved. Well done. We suggest you wear it on Saturday as a jacket like that needs to be let out of the captivity of your closet more than once a year!

Don’t forget the extra batteries. (Just kidding.)


(Photo by Amanda McLean.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Here's a nice "hat picture" from last Saturday's Maryland Hunt Cup.

It's a nice little race, but the Virginia Gold Cup it is not...


For those of us plotting how we were going to find our way to get in front of a television for the Kentucky Derby after a big, fun day at the 84th Virginia Gold Cup, things just got a little simpler regarding the logistics for this Saturday...

Edward P. Evans' Virginia-bred Quality Road, who figured to be among the top choices for Saturday’s Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Gr. 1) will not start in the Run for the Roses, it was confirmed Monday morning by Chris Baker, farm manager of Evans’ Spring Hill Farm.

“There was some tenderness in the foot this morning and he’s not 100%. (Trainer) Jimmy (Jerkens) wasn’t comfortable breezing him, and without a work, he can’t go,” Baker said. “He’s not going to make the race.”

On Monday morning, Jerkens noticed the colt’s foot was sore and that he was favoring it. "You’re just kidding yourself if you think you can go out there and run in the biggest race in the world and haven’t trained,” Jerkens said. “It’s a shame because he’s so talented.”

Quality Road was aiming to become the fifth Virginia-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby and the first Commonwealth-born horse to run in the prestigious race since 1996. Previous Virginia-bred winners were Reigh Count (1928), Secretariat (1973), Pleasant Colony (1981) and Sea Hero (1993).

Quality Road has three wins from four lifetimes starts. He was a smashing winner of the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) in his 3-year-old debut Feb. 28 at Gulfstream Park and last time out won the Blackberry Presents the 58th Running of the Florida Derby (gr. I).

“The good news is we have a very talented 3-year-old,” Baker said. “We’ll wait and get him right and go from there.”

Friday, April 24, 2009


We made a quick trip down to Casanova this morning to visit Spring Hill Farm where Kentucky Derby contender Quality Road was born. We were reminded of how beautiful horse country is in the Spring, and in anticipation of another awesome day next Saturday at the Virginia Gold Cup, we thought we'd share a few images.

(TarDog Photos)


(We first ran this post back in 2007, but it's worth revisiting annually!)

It’s a three man grounds team here at Great Meadow, so for the three weeks prior to the Gold Cup we run at full tilt getting everything ready for the Virginia Gold Cup races. So what does that mean? It means we are mowing grass. And with the weather turning warm again today and all weekend, it means we will be mowing and weed-eating until the sun sets each day. Don’t tell us we don’t know how to have a good time!

To get the race course ready, it’s a process. First we mow the new spring grass to about 5 inches to thicken it up. Then, we slowly raise the height up on the race course to 6 or 7 inches to make the perfect cushion for the horses. (We also have our own rain dance here at Great Meadow because it is important that the ground have a certain level of moisture on race day.) So, about two weeks ago, we rolled our irrigation reels out onto the course so they would be ready to irrigate as the weather had been very dry. Sometimes, this process is kind of like getting your car washed on a sunny day, it brings the rain. It worked again this year.

Lots of people ask if we aerate. Fortunately, the girls wearing high heels take care of that for us at the fall and the spring races. Once they figure out that while high heels are fashionable, they aren’t the best answer for steeple chase footwear, we’re going to have even more work on our plate.

There is also the work we do to the jumps, fences and other structures in preparation for race day. We’ve repaired, painted and stained fencelines, jumps and more. The roads are groomed so they are ready to handle the nearly 8,000 cars and buses that will pull through the gates on the first Saturday in May.

That’s basically the strategic plan for Gold Cup preparations. Lots of work, but you’re worth it. Did I mention that we have to mow? I’m off to draw straws to see who gets to use the John Deere Chopper Snapper today. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


…no waiting. The one where the Washington Post’s Going Out Guide gives you all the scoop.
The one where Capital Hill Style weighs in on fashion sense including “Critter pants.”
The one where D.C. Traveler dispenses some good fashion advice including the oft ignored classic “Flat heels are suggested.” Now, that’s funny.
The one where you can link to all the scoop on “University Row” and learn that “Cornellians” is a word for Cornell grads.
The one where In The Distict actually suggest that the dudes wear seersucker suits. Jordan, puh-leez, anything but that!
The one where Jamie Lynn at These Boots Were Made For Walking reveals her Gold Cup hat.
The one where the city of Winchester says the Gold Cup is “the largest steeplechase course in the country” with “the best viewing anywhere.” You don’t really need to visit the link ‘cause that’s all it says, but we like that is says “the largest steeplechase course in the country” with “the best viewing anywhere” so we click on it all the time!


You might have thought that Coal Dust, the impressive winner of the $35,000 Grand National in Maryland on Saturday, might have his sights set on the Virginia Gold Cup.

But, now it appears that the winner Coal Dust and the runner-up Private Attack will run in the Maryland Hunt Cup this Saturday. Horses have run in the grueling Maryland race and then run in the Gold Cup just one week later, but it’s quite rare.

On the same day, former Gold Cup winner Bubble Economy won a $20,000 Middleburg Hunt Cup at the Middleburg Races. That would set him up perfectly if his connections deem it appropriate. Bubble Economy is trained by Jack Fisher of Saluter fame (six Gold Cup wins, all with Fisher riding).

Frankly, all four starters in the Middleburg Hunt Cup would seem to be likely Gold Cup starters. Time will tell.

Grand National
First Race. $35,000 Grand National timber stakes.
1. Coal Dust (Armata Stable, Tom Voss, Blair Wyatt).
2. Private Attack (Sportsmans Hall, Alicia Murphy, William Santoro).
3. Western Fling (Stewart Strawbridge, Katherine McKenna, Jason Griswold).

Middleburg Spring Races
Second Race. $20,000 Middleburg Hunt Cup.
1. Bubble Economy (Arcadia Stable, Jack Fisher, Xavier Aizpuru).
2. Seeyouattheevent (Arthur W. Arundel, Jack Fisher, William Dowling)
3. Erin Go Bragh (NZ) (Magalen O. Bryant, Doug Fout, Paddy Young)
4. Irish Prince (Augustin Stables, Sanna Hendriks, Jody Petty)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


No we aren’t kidding. This “recession” has had all different kind of impacts on all different kinds of businesses including hat sales.

Evidently, sales are off in the biz of chapeaus, but the savvy distaff hat haberdasher has learned how to compensate by selling a redecorating service. There’s a word for that and it’s “clever.”

So if you were down and out about not having a new hat for this year’s Virginia Gold Cup, why not find a hat redecorator and give that old lid a nice new makeover?

Truth be told, why not have a couple Margaritas with your girl pals and then redecorate the darn thing yourself?

Really, we aren’t looking to take any business away from Hat Redecorator Extraordinaire Vicky Hoskinson (pictured here), but why not take this on as a post happy hour project.

Cocktails, scissors, feathers, ribbons, Sharpie pens…Go crazy!

Whether adorned with feathers or flowers, hats are as much a part of the Gold Cup spectacle as fast horses, tailgates and sunburns. The trick is to get your hat just right…so get busy, the Gold Cup is now a mere eleven days away.

Besides, “recycling” your Gold Cup hat is a perfect way to celebrate Earth Day!


Virginia owned and bred Kentucky Derbyleading contender Quality Road is doing great. According to sources close to the Florida Derby winner, he hacked around the horse paths at Belmont Park yesterday when rain made both the main track and the training track soup.

Paul Moran wrote a nice piece about Quality Road, his Virginia connection and his public relations/media campaign be orchestrated by the Virginia Thoroughbred Association for

Down at Churchill Downs, the other two favorites Pioneerof The Nile both and I Want Revenge both worked five furlongs impressively. Pioneerof The Nile has a win last time out in the Santa Anita Derby bolstering his resume, and I Want Revenge won the Wood Memorial in a very impressive fashion last out after falling down coming out of the gate. It’s worth watching.

Hook up with QR on Facebook to become a FAN OF QUALITY ROAD and/or keep up with him on Twitter.

(Photo by Tony Rosca)

Monday, April 20, 2009


Well, besides you...

The Virginia Gold Cup Races are now on Facebook.

Pay us a visit. Write something clever on our Wall or post some of your favorite Gold Cup pictures. Invite your friends!


Virginia's entry in the Kentucky Derby, Quality Road won the race to Facebook and Twitter rather convincingly over his primary rival I Want Revenge. The other top pick, Pioneerof The Nile hasn't even gotten the computer turned on yet..

The three-year-old colt who was born at Edward P. Evans' Spring Hill Farm (about 20 minutes from the Virginia Gold Cup racecourse) is up and running on both Facebook and Twitter and training well in New York. He will ship to Kentucky next Tuesday.

QR is considered one of the favorites for this year's Run For The Roses, as is I Want Revenge. IWR now has his own Facebook page as well, but QR beat him there by about a week.


...bring May flowers.

Yep, it's raining again.

Just be glad you don't have to mow all the beautiful green grass at Great Meadow once it finally stops.

Friday, April 17, 2009


Hey, take a moment.

As Bruce Hornsby once said: “Look out any window, look out any open door.”

Yeah, what is that?

That, boys and girls, is the sun.

And, yes it’s been playing hooky quite a bit this dim, dark, rainy April.

It was so dark and cold here in close proximity to Virginia Gold Cup headquarters here in beautiful Warrenton, VA that the Mrs. noted that she almost felt compelled to go out get a Christmas tree. She was wearing a big fleece jacket at the time and was, quite frankly, rather convincing.

Bad enough it’s tax day, did it have to be cold and rainy too?

But today…ah, today is a different story and tomorrow supposed to be nicer.

Looking into the crystal ball we keep stashed in the corner office it looks like the first Saturday in May is going to be gorgeous.

As it should be.

There are a few races this weekend that could shed some light on the field for this year’s feature race. More on that next week.

Have a great weekend.


By now, you’ve seen, or at the very least heard of, Susan Boyle from Scotland. She found her way to the center of the stage on Simon Cowell’s other hit show Britain’s Got Talent.

When the forty-seven-year old unemployed admitted spinster came out looking rather dowdy, rumpled and in WAY over her head, the snickering was downright audible.

Cowell did a fairly nice job of not making fun of this poor woman, but the same can’t be said for the audience.

Then she opened her mouth to sing "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Misérables.

Look, we’ve seen this clip five times and still get chills when this woman starts to sing. It’s simply magnificent. The look on Cowell’s face is priceless. If he was in on “the fix,” he’s got a damn good poker face.

If you don’t smile when this woman starts singing, your face is broken.

Even after she finishes her amazing performance, it seems she doesn’t realize how good she was until all the judges vote “yes.”

If you haven’t seen this, watch it. If you have, watch it again – it's a nice addition to your weekend!

There’s a short version (2:52)
…and a long version (7:07)

Hey look, we’re full service around here. We recommend the long version, the set-up is priceless.

So, noting that she will probably win the competition and become the next Paul Potts, we figured we better invite her over to the good old U.S. of A. to sing the National Anthem at this year’s Virginia Gold Cup. Our guess is she’ll be so flattered she’ll race right across the pond and do it for free. All in.

*Items in italics may not be true.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Look, we know there are a bunch of these big steeplechase races here in Virginia. In fact, after college football and NASCAR racing, steeplechase racing is the third biggest spectator sport here in the Commonwealth.

So, of course, each event is going to think their event is the best.
Those other events? They would be wrong.

One thing is for sure, they're all different. Foxfield has a big college crowd. The Middleburg Races are typically host to an older more sophisticated crowd. The Strawberry Hill lot is a bit of a mixed bag, and last weekend it appeared the crowd was trying to compete with the Virginia Gold Cup.

The gig had a Casablanca theme. That tells you something right off the bat. The theme for the Gold Cup is Gold Cup. It's the same theme every year in that "ain't broke, don't fix it" sort of way. To paraphrase Pancho Villa, "We don't need no stinkin' theme!"

Who are they kidding? StrawHill is a nice race meet and a good party, but the Gold Cup it mostly surely is not. Stick to what you do best, which, unfortunately of late, seems to be coping with rainy weather and leave the granddaddy of 'em all to be...well...just that - the biggest and best steeplechase, outdoor cocktail party/picnic, one-day sporting event in the Commonwealth.
Period. End of conversation.

As we are fond of saying around here, it is what it is.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Top timber horse Incomplete bided his time trailing the leaders for most of the 99th running of the My Lady's Manor steeplechase race Saturday in Monkton before finding another gear and running away from the rest of the 10-horse field to win by seven lengths.

Incomplete, an 8-year-old bay, is 3-for-3 in National Steeplechase Association-sanctioned races since beginning his career over timber two years ago.

"My horse has a great quarter-of-a-mile kick," said Incomplete jockey Charlie Fenwick III, "and he has enough tactical speed to put him wherever I want to put him, so that's what I did, and it worked out."

Incomplete finished the three-mile, 16-jump course in 6 minutes, 18 seconds and outdistanced co-favorite South Monarch, who placed second with Jody Petty riding. J. Alfred Prufrock, who held the lead briefly, finished third with Conrad Somers in the irons.

The $30,000 My Lady's Manor marked the first of three successive steeplechase weekends in Maryland, to be followed by the Grand National in Butler on Saturday and the Maryland Hunt Cup in Glyndon on April 25.

My Lady's Manor. $30,000 My Lady's Manor timber stakes.
1. Incomplete. Bob Kinsley. Ann Stewart. Charlie Fenwick III.
2. South Monarch. Augustin Stable. Sanna Hendriks. Jody Petty.
3. J. Alfred Prufrock. Conrad Somers owner, trainer, jockey.


These past few weekends we have reached some important sporting conclusions. We know that the University of North Carolina Tar Heels are the best college basketball team in the land with the conclusion of the Final Four and their demolition of all before them.

We know the kids at Miami (Ohio), that have never won a NCAA national championship in any sport, let one slip away when the Terriers of Boston University scored two late goals and then one in overtime to capture the Frozen Four this weekend in Washington, D.C.

We know the Nats…well…we apologize in advance…but, it appears that they “suck.” The are 0-for-2009 heading into today’s home opener.

We also know that it was cold and rainy at the Strawberry Hill Races down at Colonial Downs this weekend. Strawberry Hill is like the Virginia Gold Cup’s little sister…more on those races tomorrow.

Yesterday Angel Cabrera won the Masters. He’s from Argentina. Besides the two-time major winner Mr. Cabrera, do you know for what else the Argentines are famous? If you said “horses,” you would be correct. (Yes, there are other answers that are also correct, but we’re trying to bring this thing in for a landing…)

Argentina is the world's undisputed polo mecca, home to the game's best players and horses. For years, they have exported high-goal polo players to the U.S. and other parts of the polo world where they have long been the dominant force in the sport.

In fact, some of them even wind up playing in the summer at Great Meadow after the single most important event at the particular venue – the Virginia Gold Cup – is concluded.

So now that those events are behind us, we only have the quasi-death march that appears to be the Nationals long baseball season, a horrific Wizards team who will miss the seeming endless NBA playoffs and a very good Caps team of which to keep track.

Yes, Wahoos, we know you have a good lacrosse team, but we’ll get to that later as well…

Oh, and the Redskins? The draft? Well…no, don’t even think about it ‘cause you know they’re gonna monkey it up.

So with that as a framework, we clearly have sufficient time and resources to focus on the first Saturday in May.

Thursday, April 9, 2009


(Photo by Paul Morigi via


This lovely painting was done by John Hetzel who lives and paints in Charlottesville, VA. For more information about the artist, click here.


Now that the NCAA's Big Dance, known as March Madness, has draw to a close earlier this week, it's time to change focus.

NEW FOCUS: Virginia Gold Cup, Saturday May 2nd.

First issue we have to overcome is this - the recent unusually cool weather isn't making anybody think about warm days, cool drinks, picnics, sunglasses, bright sun glasses and all the other things that make the first Saturday in May at Great Meadow so memorable and fun.

Maybe it will warm up a degree or two and we can all get more focused.

In the meantime, Virginia's biggest steeplechase race and outdoor cocktail party is only two dozen days a way!

If you are still in that college sports mode, consider attending the Gold Cup along with your fellow students and alums! Check out

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Just last weekend, a horse named Quality Road won the Florida Derby, which is a major prep race for that other horse race they run on the first Saturday in May - the Kentucky Derby.

Yes, the Virginia Gold Cup shares it's big day which makes perfect sense -- the biggest "timber" horse race in the land followed up by the biggest "flat" race in the land. Mind you, it takes the Gold Cup horses a bit longer to traverse the four mile course with 19 substantial jumps to hurdle than it does the best three-year-olds in the country to cover 1 1/4 miles sans obstructions.

So if the Kentucky Derby is considered "the most exciting two minutes in sports," that makes the Virginia Gold Cup the "most exciting seven minutes in sports!"

But, we digress...

The point about Quality Road is he was born just down the road from the Gold Cup's headquarters in Warrenton, VA. For those of you that follow the spring steeplechase circuit in Northern Virginia, you will recognize his birthplace - Casanova, VA. That's the same Casanova that hosts the Casanova Hunt and subsequently, the Casanova Hunt Point-to-Point in late February.

Quality Road is now pointing the Kentucky Derby, and should he win, he would be the first horse born in Virginia to do so since Sea Hero won in 1993.
Keep your fingers crossed.