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?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Picture Of The Day

Horses and jockeys jump a fence past the grandstand at Fakenham racecourse during racing at Fakenham on May 7, 2013 in Fakenham, England. (Jamie McDonald/Getty Images Europe)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Grinding Speed Wins 88th Virginia Gold Cup

(Douglas Lees)
Michael Wharton’s Grinding Speed continued his dominance of the Great Meadow Course when he drew clear in the stretch to a 6 3/4-length victory over Straight to It in the 88th running of the $75,000 Virginia Gold Cup on Saturday, May. 4. Magalen O. Bryant’s Dakota Slew finished third, 5 3/4 lengths farther back, and Merriefield Farm’s Foyle claimed fourth money.

Trained by Alicia Murphy and again ridden by Mark Beecher, Grinding Speed had won last fall’s International Gold Cup on Great Meadows’ timber course. The seven-year-old Maryland-bred Grindstone gelding ran the Virginia Gold Cup’s four miles in 8:50.80 on firm turf.

Irv Naylor’s Herons Well set the early pace, and Straight to It, owned by Sheila J. Williams and Andre Brewster, took over on the final circuit under Willie Dowling. Beecher kept Grinding Speed in midpack through the first two miles and gradually worked his way through the field to challenge Straight to It heading into the final fence. They jumped the final obstacle together, and Grinding Speed pulled away to the finish line. Dowling claimed foul against Grinding Speed, but the Gold Cup stewards disallowed the claim.

The Virginia Gold Cup proved a disappointment for the winners of the first two Maryland timber classics. Moonsox, the My Lady’s Manor winner on April 13, was fifth, and Naylor’s Alfa Beat, the Grand National winner on April 20, was last of seven finishers. Herons Well was pulled up at the final fence.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Final Review: Hat, Sunglasses, Sunscreen and Cash

OK, you’re almost at the finish line (pun intended). Tomorrow is the 88th running of the Virginia Gold Cup and the first to feature pari-mutual wagering just like at a traditional racetrack.

So first off, bring some CASH. Yes, there will be ATMs there, but we wager (pun also intended) that there will be a line and, in the immortal words of Sweet Brown, “Ain’t nobody got time for that!”

You could borrow some cash from one of your friends, but then they would have less cash and you would have to remember who you borrowed it from and that could cause friction and that friction could cause a problem in the friendship and then he/she wouldn’t feel as guilty about flirting with your girl/boyfriend and that might lead to another break-up followed by a future wedding that you won’t get invited to and if you do get invited it will seem weird...need I go on with the rest of your life story gone horribly wrong because you didn’t save three bucks and get cash from your own bank’s ATM BEFORE you came to the Gold Cup?

I didn't think so. Life is complicated, don't bugger it up more by borrowing money from your friends.  There is an ATM on every street corner.  Use it!

Just bring some cash, because placing a wager on a Gold Cup race is going to be fun, and then WATCHING the race after placing a meager bet is way more fun than a) not watching or b) watching with nothing at stake.

(Oh yeah, and buy a program. The new Gold Cup program has all the past performances of the horses so you can make an educated guess about who is going to win...or, at the very least, you will look smart. The program costs $5, so bring some CASH.)

That brings us to sunscreen....yeah, yeah, yeah, we know what you’re thinking, but you’re wrong.  You NEED your sunscreen. It will be sunny. You will be outside all day.  You NEED your sunscreen. Capiche?
Hat. Hats are optional, but they do look cool and they reduce the need for sunscreen.  We recommend the hat for both the men and the women.  Different hats, of course, but hats.

Sunglasses are also a bit of a must. It’s very GREEN at Great Meadow, that green reflects a lot of light. The large amounts of sunny, beautiful light makes you squint. Squinting gives you crow’s feet. Nobody wants crows feet not even the crows who are constantly shopping at Zappos looking to cover up their nasty wrinkled feet.  Crows feet and other wrinkles to your forehead caused by squinting will eventually require botox and cause partial paralysis of your lovely face.  That and botox ain’t cheap.

Sooooooo....wear your sunglasses.

Wear a hat.

Put on the damn sunscreen!

Bring some cash!

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Pictures Of The Day

A general view of the course during the Phoenix Security Hurdle Race. (Stu Forster/Getty Images Europe)
The Sedgefield Races on May 2, 2013 in Stockton-on-Tees, England. (Stu Forster/Getty Images Europe)
Kentucky Derby morning-line favorite Orb gets washed in the barn area during the morning training for the 2013 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 2, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Thursday, May 2, 2013

The Weekend Forecast

Any questions?

Field Set For 88th Virginia Gold Cup

ALFA BEAT (#10) (Douglas Lees Photo)
Champion steeplechase owner Irv Naylor will play a strong hand in the $75,000 Virginia Gold Cup when he fields two contenders in a highly competitive field for Saturday’s 88th edition of the four-mile timber classic. Also in the Gold Cup field of nine horses are the winners of several major timber races.

Naylor’s contingent is led by Alfa Beat, an Irish steeplechase stakes winner who pulled away to a five-length victory in the $30,000 Grand National, the second jewel of Maryland’s timber triple crown, on April 20. Billy Meister, who trains Alfa Beat, also will saddle Naylor’s Herons Well, a British-bred import who finished fourth in a division of the John Rush Streett Memorial maiden timber race at the My Lady’s Manor meet in Monkton, Md., on April 13. James Slater will ride Alfa Beat, and Roddy Mackenzie rides Herons Well.

The Naylor contingent will face stiff competition. Nelson & Traveller Stable’s Moonsox won the kickoff race of the Maryland timber triple, the My Lady’s Manor, by 1 3/4 lengths on April 13. Returning to ride Moonsox for trainer Kevin Boniface is Lia McGuirk, who won the My Lady’s Manor in her first sanctioned start.

Reigning champion trainer Jack Fisher (of Saluter fame) entered Straight to It, the 2012 New Jersey Hunt Cup winner who is owned by Sheila J. Williams and Andre Brewster. In his only start of the current season, Straight to It finished second in the My Lady’s Manor. Willie Dowling will ride.

GRINDING SPEED (Douglas Lees Photo)
Michael T. Wharton’s Grinding Speed won the International Gold Cup over the Great Meadow course last fall, and he returns with jockey Mark Beecher, who is coming off a winning ride on Professor Maxwell in the Maryland Hunt Cup on April 27. Alicia Murphy trains Grinding Speed, who was leading the My Lady’s Manor when he fell at the last fence.

Richard Valentine, who sent out Hunt Cup winner Professor Maxwell from his The Plains base, will saddle Magalen O. Bryant’s Dakota Slew and Lucy Stable’s Justpourit in the Gold Cup. Dakota Slew would be making his first start of the season, and Justpourit was fifth in the Grand National at Butler, Md. Robbie Walsh has the mount on Dakota Slew, and George Hundt will be aboard Justpourit.
Trainer Edward Mulligan named Jeff Murphy for a return engagement aboard Holston Hall’s Hot Rize, winner of the $20,000 Middleburg Hunt Cup on April 20.

Maryland-based horseman Bruce Fenwick will saddle Merriefield Farm’s Foyle, who was elevated to the top spot in the Grand National’s Benjamin H. Murray Memorial timber allowance race when the first two finishers were disqualified for going off course. Christopher Read has the mount.

For the first time, the Virginia Gold Cup meet at the Great Meadows course in The Plains will offer pari-mutuel wagering under the supervision of the Virginia Racing Commission.  

Saturday’s program will offer six races with purses totaling $200,000. First post time is 1:30 p.m.

The Field For The 139th Kentucky Derby

(AP Photo/Garry Jones)