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?

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Maryland Hunt Cup Today

The Maryland Hunt Cup is today in Glyndon, Maryland and there are those pundits who claim that it is the Super Bowl of timber racing.  Really?

Look, it’s a great race and is very similar to the Virginia Gold Cup.  The glaring big differences is that some of the jumps in the Maryland Hunt Cup are REALLY big, but the crowd (and the party) at the Virginia Gold Cup is REALLY bigger and better.

The Maryland Hunt Cup draws a crowd of 7,000 spectators who wash down their crab cakes with chilled white wine as they survey the action from a hill – sound familiar?  Yes, it sounds like one tent or tailgate at the Virginia Gold Cup.  Seven thousand?  What are the roads closed?
(Jake Slagle via Flickr)
Yes, like the Virginia Gold Cup, women wear fancy hats and men will wear ties.  But there is only one race.  One.  It’s like the Virginia Gold Cup Lite or the Virginia Gold Cup Express.  Hey, Marylanders what’s the rush?  Evidently, they stand around all afternoon oblivious to their surroundings until the big race goes off at 4pm…Hey, that’s starting to sound familiar...

The point is they couldn’t watch the other races on the card if they wanted to because there are no other races on the card!
Like we said, the jumps are BIG.
Yes, the Maryland version is older – 119 compared to the Commonwealth’s 86 – but, we like to think we spent the first 33 years figuring out how to do it EXACTLY right.

Both races are run for purses of $75,000 over four miles (a very long way if you’re counting), and, all kidding aside, both races are severe tests and very difficult to win.  No joke, some of the jumps on the Glyndon course are GIGANTIC.  The good news, is that slows the pace down, the bad news is you have to jump a couple of those monsters more than once!

Here’s the field for the 119th Maryland Hunt Cup:
For details on owners, trainers, riders, etc., click here.

There is also a full card of steeplechase action today in Charlottesville at the Foxfield races.  To see the entries, click here.


"I concentrated harder during that eight and a half minutes than on anything else in my life."

– Amateur jockey Charles Fenwick Jr., 62, who raced from 1970 to 1988 and won the Maryland Hunt Cup five times, the second-most victories ever.


 OK, now we are really done. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Europe)
Uncle Mo gallops during the morning exercise session in preparation for the 137th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on April 29, 2011 in Louisville, Kentucky.  (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America)
Pants On Fire gallops during the morning exercise session in preparation for the 137th Kentucky Derby. Well, at least his pants aren't on the ground. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images North America)

Friday, April 29, 2011


While we won’t know for a few more days exactly what horses will be entered in Saturday’s feature race – the 86th running of the Virginia Gold Cup -- we can speculate upon who we might place a wager should they be found under starter's orders next Saturday at 3:45 pm.   

If he skips the Maryland Hunt Cup on Saturday and heads down to the Commonwealth, Merrifield Farm’s Bon Caddo, who won the $35,000 My Lady’s Manor on April 16, could be one of the favorites along with EMO Stables’ He’s A Conniver.
Bon Caddo (red and green) (Douglas Lees)
You might remember those two names if you attended last October’s International Gold Cup where those two warriors finished one-two in the feature race.

Bon Caddo hasn’t done much wrong since, and if he skips the Free State’s Hunt Cup, don’t be surprised if those same two horses dominate the spring version of the timber classic.  Bon Caddo finished second to Patriot’s Path in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup back in November and followed that up with a victory in the Ladies Timber at the Piedmont Hunt Point-to-Point in March prior to winning the featured My Lady’s Manor.

That said, if Bon Caddo goes in Maryland, that leaves the door wide open for He’s A Conniver.
He's A Conniver (Douglas Lees)
Owners of EMO Stables, Betty and Ernie Oare of Warrenton, VA, have deep Gold Cup roots and they have been on the lookout for a horse that could win the race for many years.  In his younger days, Ernie used to ride steeplechase horses and his best timber horse, Allen B.J., once had a shot to win the Gold Cup with jockey Oare in the saddle.

Unfortunately, the girth broke during the race. The girth is the big belt looking strap that keeps the saddle on and without it you can’t run four miles and jump over a bunch of big fences unless you have the balance of Shannon Miller or Mary Lou Retton. Even then, it would be next to impossible. Kind of like riding a motorcycle on water – not impossible, but damn difficult.  A tough break, to say the least.
Veterans Randy Rouse (l) and Ernie Oare back in the 1970's.
Since then, the Oares have kept a steady look out for the right horse and they look to be headed in the right direction when the now nine-year-old He’s A Conniver won the International Gold Cup last fall.

He’s A Conniver, who is now trained by Dale Jackson and ridden by Jody Petty, made his 2011 debut last weekend at the Middleburg Spring Races where he finished second in the $20,000 Middleburg Hunt Cup.  He’s A Conniver ran a good race getting beat by Delta Park by 2 ¼ lengths.

For the EMO charger, the question is one of stamina…can he get the extra half-mile in the longer Virginia Gold Cup?  Time will tell.
Delta Park (Susan M. Carter)
Arcadia Stables Delta Park merits consideration based on winning the Middleburg Hunt Cup last weekend and for the simple fact that he is trained by Jack Fisher.

Fisher knows his way around the course at Great Meadow having either trained or ridden (or both) the great Saluter for each of his historic record-setting Gold Cup victories.   Delta Park was fourth prior to that in the My Lady’s Manor, so the seven-year-old could be coming to form at just the right time.
More Facination (Douglas Lees)
Rosbrian Farms My Lady’s Manor runner-up More Fascination is skipping the Maryland Hunt Cup and may well have his eighty-year-old eyes set on the Virginia Gold Cup.  Prior to running second to Bon Caddo for trainer Tara Elmore and rider Jeff Murphy, the Dynaformer gelding won the open timber race at the Orange County Hunt Point-to-Point.

Augustin Stables Radio Flyer has done well on the point-to-point circuit, but hitting in Hagerstown isn’t the same as hitting in Nationals Park.  The son of the well-named Irish stallion High Roller, won the $3,500 open timber race at Fairfax Point-to-Point last weekend.

Radio Flyer
Prior to that he was second in the Rokeby Bowl and last year he did perform well in stakes company finishing second to previous Gold Cup winner Bubble Economy in the $75,000 Mason Houghland Memorial.  Radio Flyer is in the capable hands of trainer Richard Valentine and we may find out if two recent “Triple A” wins have him ready for the “majors league.”

Others to keep an eye out for include NoGo Stables’ Yin Yang, Waverton Farm’s He’s Got Mojo and Maggie Bryant’s G’day G’day.  All three bring great connections and solid resumes to the event…if they decide to give it a try.

We will have more when the entries are drawn next week. – G. Petty


Getty Images

OK, so we lied. 

We said we were done with the Royal Wedding and then we saw Princess Beatrice’s hat.  PB, 22, is the daughter of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson.  Philip Treacy designed the hat(?).

A Facebook fan page has been set up to pay tribute – Description:;wi.1;hi.1/01/'Princess Beatrice's ridiculous Royal Wedding hat' has already attracted over 5,000 fans with some users' comments suggesting it may be more fitting for the likes of Lady Gaga.

Be thankful, you didn't travel all the way to London only to find yourself seated behind this "hat."


In a royal coup of inspirational genius, the Windsor family decided to hold the wedding of future King William and Kate Middleton one week prior to Virginia’s most famous steeplechase race, picnic and outdoor cocktail party.

"The royal family simply didn’t want to share the world spotlight with an event as significant as the Virginia Gold Cup,” an anonymous source at Buckingham Palace told us.
(Getty Images)
Clever those Brits.

Here, Prince William speaks to his bride Katherine Middleton as she holds the hand of her father Michael Middleton at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011 in London, England.

The marriage of the second in line to the British throne was led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and attended by somewhere between 1,600 and 1,900 guests (depending on who you ask), including foreign Royal family members and various heads of state.

Thousands of well-wishers from around the world have also flocked to London to witness the spectacle while millions more watched on the telly.

*Items in italics may not be true.   


Royal Tea Stuff

And for good reasons.

Obviously, nobody affiliated with the Virginia Blog Cup scored an invite to the Royal Wedding.  In honor of that unfortunate snub, we wanted to share our favorite Royal Wedding memorabilia.

Royal Barf Bag (see pizza below)
Royal Condoms.  Really?
Royal Pizza (see barf bags above)
To see more - and we have absolutely no idea why in the world ANYBODY would want to - click here.


These horses are so clean you could literally eat off of them…Here, TRH Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge smile at the cheering crowds as they make the journey by carriage procession to Buckingham Palace following their marriage at Westminster Abbey on April 29, 2011 in London, England.  You gotta admit, they’ve got some serious horsepower. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images Europe)

The folks at James Madison University take the Virginia Gold Cup seriously.  To see more, click here.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Well, that’s one less helicopter we have to sort out with the Virginia State Police.

Real estate developer, hit television show host, zillionaire, hairpiece aficionado and erstwhile Presidential candidate Donald Trump held a news conference yesterday and he never once mentioned the Virginia Gold Cup.   

Not even once.  Damn, Donald.
(Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images North America)
Clearly preoccupied with the current President’s birth certificate, Trump, a master of spin who has popularized the phrase “you're fired,” reversed field suggesting his constant carping about who was born where was actually beneficial to the leader of the Free World.  And he did mention that he is still bummed out about having to fire Gary Busey from Celebrity Apprentice.
Gary Busey and Mark McGrath on the set of Celebrity Apprentice
Officials at the Virginia Gold Cup headquarters in Warrenton, VA reviewed the tapes several times to determine the impact that Trump’s statement may have on Virginia’s most famous horse race and largest outdoor picnic and cocktail party.  After about the fourth view, a consensus was reached:  Nothing.  No impact whatsoever.

Based on the fact that Trump never mentioned the famous horse race the first Saturday in May, we were unable to reach any conclusion other than “he won’t be coming.”

After conducting significant additional research, Gold Cup officials also have determined that no other Presidential candidates are likely to attend either.


A series that never ends...
This outfit if perfect if you are camping out for a front row view of the big event at Westminster Abbey on Friday.  That said, it’s not the look we’d be going for at the Gold Cup.  Patriotic, yes.  Timely, yes. But, seriously, not the right look for the first Saturday in May!

(Photos by and Dave J Hogan/Getty Images Europe)


The view of a rainbow from near the Virginia Gold Cup office on Main Street in Warrenton, VA yesterday at 5:45 p.m.  (iPhoto by G. Petty/T.A.H. Worldwide Media)
George Baker riding Askar Tau (R) win The totepool Sagaro Stakes at Ascot racecourse on April 27, 2011 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images Europe)
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Derby Kitten rallied from last place to sweep past Prime Cut and Casper’s Touch to win the 30th running of the $200,000 Coolmore Lexington (G3) for 3-year-olds by 1½ lengths before a Saturday afternoon crowd of 20,273 at Keeneland.  (Photo by Coady Photography)
Queen Elizabeth II arrives to open the Sainsbury Laboratory for Plant Sciences in the University of Cambridge Botanic Garden on April 27, 2011 in Cambridge, England.  She doesn’t look the least little bit stressed about tomorrow’s big wedding.  Just another reason why she is the QUEEN!  ( Photo by WPA Pool/Getty Images Europe)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


Seriously, this doesn’t really require an explanation now does it?  There is a time and place for every cool outfit, and it’s your job to know what to wear and when to wear it.

(Marco Garcia/Getty Images North America)
Here, (L-R) Julie Doll, Amber Staab, Kammee Stewart, and Sandy Bear pose with Hello Kitty at the Sephora Hello Kitty Beauty Event With Hello Kitty Designer Ms. Yuko Yamaguch held at the Ala Moana Shopping Center, Thursday, April 21, 2011 in Honolulu. 

Now, if you can rock the Hello Kitty look, you go right on with your bad self.  Otherwise...back to the closet.

You’ve got this, right?


Uncle Mo (l) and Stay Thirsty (r).  (Reed Palmer photo)
According the the AP, Uncle Mo looks good to go. The Factor is good to go home.

Now ten days before the Kentucky Derby, two of the top contenders are headed in opposite directions.

Uncle Mo appeared right at home on the dirt at Churchill Downs on Tuesday, leaving trainer Todd Pletcher and owner Mike Repole optimistic he will be ready to run under the twin spires on May 7 at Louisville, Ky.

The Factor, meanwhile, will be a nonfactor. The San Vincente and Rebel Stakes winner is out of an increasingly wide-open Derby following throat surgery.

Chalk it up to another chaotic day in a series of them leading up to the big race.

A semblance of sanity, however, may have returned following Uncle Mo's steady five-furlong workout under the lights in the pre-dawn darkness.

The 3-year-old colt clocked the distance in 1:01.80 under the lights early Tuesday morning, his first major training move since a gastrointestinal infection was discovered following a third-place finish in the Wood Memorial on April 9.

Pletcher called the move "an indication that he's in good form."
Dialed In. (Photo: Joe Ganley/EquiSport Photos)
The pre-race favorite now might be Dialed In who won the Florida Derby back in March.  However, Uncle Mo's biggest victory (the Breeders Cup Juvenile) did happen at Churchill Downs last November.  The victory earned Uncle Mo the Eclipse Award for champion two-year-old colt.

Other contenders include:  Mucho Macho Man, Santiva, Toby's Corner, Pants On Fire, Midnight Interlude, Soldat and Brethren, among others. 



Don’t wear a mask.  It’s not Halloween.

Masks are hot.

Masks scare people.

Most mask make you look…well…stupid.

Don’t wear a mask.

In this photo, a fan wearing a horse head shaped mask pretends to smoke during the 6th edition of the 'Polymanga' show, western Switzerland's major anime, manga and video games festival, in Lausanne.

He or she would not wear this to the Swiss Gold Cup or the Virginia Gold Cup.  


A horse drawn carriage is driven past London's Westminster Abbey on April 27, 2011, after taking part in a dress rehearsal for the royal wedding between Britain's Prince William and his fiancee Kate Middleton. Up to 1,000 members of the British military attended a pre-dawn rehearsal for the royal wedding on Wednesday to ensure they get everything right on the big day.  (Getty Images)

Blythe Davies on Private Attack leads over the 4th fence in the Maryland Grand National last Saturday. (Photo by Douglas Lees)
Audrey (l), Annie (c), Lindsey (r) and baby Alexis show off their hats at the Fairfax Hunt Point-to-Point at Morven Park on Easter Sunday.  Look for a reprisal on Gold Cup day.  Hat Contest anyone?  (Photo by CoolHandLu2009 via Flickr)

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


There are few events that can run with the Virginia Gold Cup in terms style and fun.  That said, the AMG Miami Beach Polo World Cup is just such an event.  Here's an action and an aerial shot from day 3 and Day 4 at Setai Hotel on April 24, 2011 in Miami Beach, Florida.  (Photos by John Parra/Getty Images North America)
Augustin Stables' Radio Flyer with Robbie Walsh up led all the way to win the open timber race at the Fairfax  Hunt Point-to-Point at Morven Park on Easter Sunday.  Is he headed to the Gold Cup?  (Photo by Rich Clay

Monday, April 25, 2011


By Joe Clancy/Steeplechase Times

Blythe Miller Davies, twice champion steeplechase jockey in the 1990s, returned to the race course after nearly nine years and won the $30,000 Grand National timber stakes with Maryland Hunt Cup hopeful Private Attack Saturday in Butler, Md.
(Photo by Zach Egolf)
Owned by Sportsmans Hall and trained by Alicia Murphy, the winner tracked pacesetter Uppercut through the early stages fo the 3 1/4-mile test, then held off a furious late run from Incomplete (Charlie Fenwick III) by a neck. with Volle Nolle third The top two finishers will likely renew their battle in the Maryland Hunt Cup next week in Glyndon. Private Attack won the Grand National in 2008 and finished second in 2009 and 2010.

Miller Davies, 42, was a regular on the circuit and rode five-time champion Lonesome Glory among others in a stellar career that included 202 wins from 1988-2002. Now a mother of two, she planned to ride a horse of her own this spring but accepted the Private Attack ride when the other horse went to the sidelines.

"It felt great," she said. "I'm an old lady now, but it came back to me. What a great ride. He's got so much tactical speed, I could place him where I wanted at his fences, move him around, do whatever I wanted. I could hear Charlie coming but he never got in front. My horse responded."

Davies, daughter of trainer Bruce Miller, won the Grand National 20 years earlier aboard Cabral.


Irvin S. Naylor’s Decoy Daddy set almost all the pace in the $50,000 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) and pulled away to a 3 1/2-length victory over Riverdee Stable’s Dictina’s Boy at the 90th annual Middleburg Spring Races on Saturday, April 23.
(Douglas Lees photo)
Ridden by Darren Nagle, Irish-bred Decoy Daddy went to the front at the start of the 2 1/2-mile race over National Fences and briefly gave up the advantage to Bill Pape’s Mixed Up, ridden by Danielle Hodsdon, after a mile. But the 2010 Noel Laing winner quickly took the lead again and came home without a challenge in an impressive victory.

Now trained by Tom Foley, Decoy Daddy ran the Gwathmey distance in 5:30.80 on soft turf at the Virginia course. In his first start of the year, he had finished second to Country Cousin in the $45,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup at the Aiken Spring Races in South Carolina on March 26.

Dictina’s Boy finished 6 3/4 lengths clear of Gwathmey third-place finisher Pierrot Lunaire. Call You in Ten was fourth, and Mixed Up finished fifth in a field of five. Slip Away, the 2010 Temple Gwathmey winner and Eclipse Award champion steeplechase horse, was scratched because of the soft ground.


Courtesy of Thoroughbred Daily News


(AP Photo)
A young race fan gets a good view of the action during the 65th running of the Block House Steeplechase horse race on Saturday, April 23, 2011, in Tryon, N.C. 
Courtesy of Dabney Oakley

Saturday, April 23, 2011




Look, horses can be unpredictable. That's why on May 7th at the 86th running of the Virginia Gold Cup you will be watching them, not riding one.  Here, a gaucho becomes an owcho, courtesy of an ornery, unbroken critter during the celebration of "Criolla" Week in Montevideo, Uruguay.  (Photo by Andre Stapff/Reuters)