Throughout the 7-week summer racing season at Colonial Downs (July 19 – September 1), a pair of steeplechase races take place every Monday. The non-betting events are scheduled at 12:15 and 12:50 PM and occur before the start of the pari-mutuel flat program at 1:45 PM. The races can be viewed live at nationalsteeplechase.com. They are archived there as well.
In week three of seven at the New Kent, Virginia course, Upland Flats Racing and John Lewis’ West Newton, with Harrison Beswick riding, stalked in second from the outset and took command at the third of eight fences en route to a 10 3/4 triumph in Monday’s $30,000, 2 mile maiden special weights race for four-year-olds and up.
The win was the first in eight tries for the British-bred five-year-old Kitten’s Joy gelding since coming over from the UK in the fall of 2019. KMSN Stable’s Swim bolted to the lead, but West Newton took over fairly quickly, and never really was seriously challenged. At the top of the stretch, West Newton, who is trained by Ricky Hendriks, led by four lengths, and he extended that lead easily under hand urging from Beswick. Ballybristol Farm’s Cause for Pardon, closed ground for the place spot, while Irv Naylor’s Westerland finished third.
In the second maiden contest, also a $30,000 race at 2 miles but restricted to four-year-olds, Meadow Run Farm’s Glencorrib Sky, with Skylar McKenna aboard for trainer Kathy Neilson, sat patiently off the pace in the tightly bunched six-horse field for much of the going. Turning for home, the Irish-bred, making his first career start, unleashed a rally on the extreme inside, and prevailed under a hand ride as Buttonwood Farm’s Nice to Meet Ya was all out under Richie Condon to narrow the margin of victory to a half length. Ballybristol Farm’s The Flasche was third. Kathy Neilson was the winning trainer.
Week two of jump racing at the New Kent, Va., track saw the emergence of a newcomer along with continued success of a familiar face.
In the opener, a $30,000 maiden at two miles, jockey Tom Garner, fresh off of victory aboard Baltimore Bucko in the G1 A.P. Smithwick Stakes at Saratoga, guided Van Cushny and Thomas Rice’s Booby Trap to a 2 3⁄4-length score over Nancy Reed’s War Film for trainer Leslie Young. Sheila Williams and Northwood Stable’s Market Bubble was third, another 2 3⁄4 lengths back.
The 5-year-old Hard Spun gelding, making just his second start over jumps following 22 on the flat, was bred by Ken and Sarah Ramsey. Prior to his hurdle career, Booby Trap ran mostly in claimers at Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Churchill Downs, Gulfstream Park, and Laurel.
Well-placed throughout in the field of six, Booby Trap sat behind Hail Michigan in second into the far turn, and drew clear easily after a brief duel.
After the race, trainer Young said, “I had seen him run last fall. I loved his breeding. Bred by the Ramsey’s, he’s a Hard Spun out of a Kittens’ Joy mare. I thought he would do the job.
“I saw that my friend Diana McClure had claimed him when he ran at Charles Town (last September) and later bought him off of her. He is owned by Tommy Rice and Van Cushny. Tommy is an old family friend from my parents foxhunting days and Van is the father of my dear late friend, Wyck Cushny, who passed away a few years ago. So it’s a special win for all of us. ‘Booby’ is a barn favorite So everyone is happy! Hopefully he comes out well and we can go from there.”
In the second hurdle race, a $20,000 handicap for horses rated 110 or lower, Kinross Farm’s Junonia zipped to the lead in a crowded 12-horse field after the third fence and never looked back. Riverdee Stable’s Gostisbehere mounted a determined rally, but couldn’t catch the winner, who was piloted by Harrison Beswick for trainer Neil Morris.
It was the third win of 2021 for the flashy near-white seven-year-old City Zip gelding. On May 29, Junonia beat back a similar handicap field at the Virginia Gold Cup Races, then triumphed in a claimer on the flat at Mountaineer Park.
Turning to the NSA standings, jockey Tom Garner is now tied with Graham Watters for the most wins in 2021 with 11. Trainer Jack Fisher, who will be inducted in the Hall of Fame next week, has an eight-to-six edge in victories over Keri Brion. Both Fisher and Brion are loaded for bear in Wednesday’s rescheduled $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes at the Spa.
Fisher has Robert LaPenta’s Fast Car and Riverdee Stable’s City Dreamer, while Brion has Irv Naylor’s A Silent Player and Buttonwood Farm’s exciting up-and-coming mare, The Mean Queen.