MIDDLEBURG, Va.--Jonathan Sheppard, who just moved into the lead in Trainer Races, Won, 11 to 10 over Jack Fisher, has eight horses entered in Saturday’s Virginia Fall Races at Glenwood Park in Middleburg, seven in hurdle races that count towards the title, while Fisher also has eight entered, six in hurdle races.
But with multiple entries in one race and crossover entries, Sheppard has six chances to win while Fisher has four, so the race to the Races Won title will continue to be tight, while Fisher, who has over a $78,000 lead in Trainer, Money Won, $340,610 to $261,840 for Sheppard, seems to have a lock there, with reduced purses in the remaining five steeplechase meets favoring Fisher's big lead..
One of Sheppard's entries is in a flat race while two of Fisher's are in flat races that do not count towards the Races Won title.
Nine races, seven of which are hurdle races with purses totaling $115,000 are offered at Middleburg.,
Because of ongoing Covid-19 protocols, the event will be run without spectators, but it will be live streamed on the National Steeplechase Association's website with a first-race post time of 12:30 p.m.
IN TOTAL, 94 horses were entered in the final overnights with 10 entered in the feature, the National Sporting Library and Museum Cup (the fourth race of the afternoon), which will be run as a timber stake as a result of a purse bump from $15,000 to $25,000.
The 3 ¼-mile test includes Hudson River Farms' Codrington College, trained by Sheppard, who most recently finished second to two-time Tiber Horse of the Year Doc Cebu at the Virginia Gold Cup on June 27.
Other entries include Irv Naylor’s Super Saturday, trained by Kathy Neilson, who was runner up to Andi’amu in last year’s running, and Armata Stable’s Grand Manan, trained by Billy Meister, who finished second in the race in 2017.
Two other contenders, S. Rebecca Shepherd’s Curve of Stones, trained by David Bourke, and Sheila J. Williams’ and Northwood Stable’s Storm Team , trained by Fisher, had previously broken their timber maidens over the course.
Charlie Fenwick’s Royal Ruse, trained by Sanna Neilson, comes into the stake off of a 15-length triumph in a non-sanctioned open timber event at Shawan Downs two weeks ago.
Also in the field is Upland Partners Mystic Strike, trained by Todd McKenna, winner of the 2019 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, who finished second to Royal Ruse at Shawan.
The card also includes three maiden hurdles, a handicap for horses rated at 115 or lower, a timber maiden, steeplethon over natural brush along with the timber stakes and two training-flat contests, both restricted to apprentice jockeys.
In the second race, a $15,000 Maiden race for 4 year olds, one of the entries making his debut over jumps is Irv Naylor’s Junior Senator, who is also cross-entered as an also eligible in the fifth race, a $10,000 Maiden race for 3 and 4 year olds.
Junior Senator, a 4-year-old gelded son of Smarty Jones out of the mare Queen Kennelot, is a half brother to the great Senior Senator, the three-time winner of the Maryland Hunt Cup.
Junior Senator ran eight times at Laurel over the flat for trainer Billy Meister, winning once.
Among jockeys, Gerard Galligan has eight victories, one more than Michael Mitchell, and two more than Tom Garner and Sean McDermott.
Gaalligan has six rides over fences at Middleburg, while Mitchell has seven, Garner is named on seven and McDermott on six.
If you choose to watch the races via the live stream, you can print print out the program entries by going to the NSA web site, www.nationalsteeplechase.com, and clicking on the link for Entries.
The live stream is sponsored by Brown Advisory, Charleston’s The Post and Courier, Bruton Street-US, and the Virginia Equine Alliance.