A highly competitive field of accomplished hurdle horses will face the starter on Saturday in the second running of the Virginia Gold Cup’s $75,000 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2).
The Semmes, which honors a Virginia horseman who died in early 2015, is the co-feature of the 91st annual Virginia Gold Cup. Highlighting the nine-race program will be the $100,000 Virginia Gold Cup over timber fences. First post time is 12:30 p.m., and pari-mutuel wagering will be offered on all races.
Paddy Young, who earned his fifth champion jockey championship last year, picks up the mount on Clorevia Farm’s Dr. Skip, a close second in last year’s inaugural running of the 2 1/8-mile Semmes. Trained by Edward Graham, Dr. Skip will be making his first start since that race.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard will saddle Rodman Moorhead III’s All the Way Jose, who is attempting to regain the form that carried him to the 2014 novice championship. Willie McCarthy, who rode him through his championship season, will be in the saddle.
Leading owner Irv Naylor will be represented by the reliable hurdler Charminster, who finished third in last summer’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) at Saratoga Race Course. Jack Doyle, last year’s champion jockey by purse earnings, will ride for trainer Cyril Murphy.
Champion trainer Jack Fisher will made a double-barreled assault on the Semmes with Woodslane Farm’s Overwhelming and Edith Dixon’s Schoodic. Overwhelming, the leading earner for Fisher’s powerful stable last year with three victories, was pulled up in his 2016 debut, the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3) at the Middleburg Spring Races on April 23. Sean McDermott will ride.
Connor Hankin will be aboard Schoodic, the 2013 three-year-old champion who finished second in a Ratings Handicap at Middleburg Spring.
Here is the field for the $75,000 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2). Their National Steeplechase Association Ratings are in parentheses at the end of each profile.
Bodie Island. 2008 dk. b. or br. g., Kafwain—Sweet Carolina, by Deputy Minister. Owner: The Elkstone Group LLC. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: The Elkstone Group LLC (Ky.) 2015 record: No starts. 2014 record: 5-2-0-2, $59,900. Missed the 2015 season after a two-win campaign in 2014, including a victory in a Saratoga optional allowance hurdle. (125).
Schoodic. 2010 b. g., Tiznow—Aunt Henny, by Hennessy. Owner: Edith R. Dixon. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Connor Hankin. Breeder: Edith R. Dixon (Ky.) 2016 record: 1-0-1-0, $5,400. 2015 record: 4-0-2-2, $58,000. 2014 record: 6-2-0-1, $67,500. Finished second in 2016 Middleburg Spring Ratings Handicap. Finished third in Belmont Park’s 2015 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes and in Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills. Kicked off 2015 season with second in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase near Charlotte, N.C., on April 25, then was second in Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Pulled up in 2014 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills, N.J. Three-year-old champion of 2013. (130)
Bonded (Ire). 2007 b. g., Oasis Dream (GB)—Lovealoch, by Lomond. Owner: Bruce Smart Jr. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeders: Michael Woodlock and Seamus Kennedy (Ire). 2016 record: 2-0-0-0, $1,500. 2015 NSA record: 4-1-1-0, $51,200. 2014 record: No starts. Pulled up in 2016 Carolina Cup, then was sixth in Middleburg Spring’s Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3). Finished second in Montpelier’s Noel Laing, a Ratings Handicap. Finished fourth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle after victory in Saratoga allowance hurdle in August. Fell over another horse in the Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at the Iroquois Steeplechase on May 9. (118)
Overwhelming. 2010 b. g., Hard Spun—Oh What a Windfall, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Woodslane Farm. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Phipps Stable (Ky.) 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2015 record: 6-3-1-0, $136,300. 2014 NSA record: 6-1-2-1, $27,250. Pulled up in Middleburg Spring’s 2016 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3). Won Steeplechase at Callaway’s 2015 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle. Won Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, then fell in the David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) at the International Gold Cup on Oct. 24. Won Saratoga allowance hurdle by 8 1/4 lengths on July 29. (129)
Portrade. 2009 b. g., Trade Fair (GB)—Portorosa, by Irish River (Fr). Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Gus Dahl. Breeder: Keene Bloodstock (Ire). 2015 record: 2-0-0-0, $2,500. 2014 NSA record: No starts. Finished fourth in Radnor’s 2015 National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) after fall in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase for novices. In final 2014 starts in Ireland, won Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle at Listowel and then was second in a handicap hurdle at Tipperary. (125)
All the Way Jose. 2010 b. g., Senor Swinger—Maternity Leave, by Northern Baby. Owner: Rodman W. Moorhead III. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Jonathan Sheppard (Pa.) 2015 record: 3-0-0-0, $3,750. 2014 record: 6-3-3-0, $149,700. Pulled up in 2015 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Lost rider in Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase, his 2015 debut, then was disqualified from third to fourth in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes. Clinched 2014 novice championship with Foxbrook Champion Hurdle victory. (137)
Top Striker. 2009 b. g., Van Nistelrooy—Two’s Cozy, by Cozzene. Owner: Mrs. George M. Sensor. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeder: Sycamore Hall Farm (Md.) 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $2,500. 2015 record: No starts. 2014 record: 6-2-0-2, $72,250. Finished fourth in Middleburg Spring’s 2016 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3). Started 2014 with win in Carolina Cup and also scored in AFLAC Supreme Hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway. (126)
Dr. Skip. 2008 ch. g., Eddington—Mz. Ann, by Citidancer. Owner: Clorevia Farm. Trainer: Edward Graham. Jockey: Paddy Young. Breeder: Michael P. Cataneo (Md.) 2015: 1-0-1-0, $13,500. 2014 record: 2-0-0-1, $17,500. Ran a valiant race to finish second in Virginia Gold Cup’s 2015 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2), beaten a neck. Finished fifth in 2014 Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J. In only other 2014 start, finished third in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. (139)
Charminster (Ire). 2006 b. g., Broadway Flyer—Monteleena, by Montelimar. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Raymond Cahalane (Ire). 2015 record: 5-1-0-1, $63,500. 2014 record: 2-0-1-0, $11,700. Finished sixth in Grand National (Gr. 1). Finished third in Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) on Aug. 27, then fourth in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Sept. 24. Won Ratings Handicap at Iroquois Steeplechase on May 9. (130)