MINERAL SPRINGS, N.C.--Keri Brion saddled three of the five winners at the Queen's Cup on Saturday, April 30, including French Light (Fr) in the $50,000 Queen's Cup Novice Stakes, and she moved into the lead in Trainers, Races Won by one race over Leslie Young.
Brion leads with 10 wins to Young's nine, with Jack Fisher third with four wins, and Brion also leads in Trainer, Money Won, while Brion's stable jockey Parker Hendriks leads in Rider Races Won and Money Won.
There were only four entries in the Novice Stakes, and Mr. Alec, trained by Arch Kingsley, broke down early, was pulled up and vanned off, then Perfect Tapatino, trained by Leslie Young, was pulled up after the 11th fence, leaving the field to French Light and Decisive Triumph, trained by Mark Beecher.
Irv Naylor's French Light and Port Lairge Stables and Holwood Stable's Decisive Triumph jumped the last fence together, and French Light, ridden by Parker Hendriks, pulled ahead to win by 3/4 length in 4:40 1/5 for the 2 3/8 mile race.
"French Light is a really nice horse," said Brion. "He's my favorite horse in the barn. He's no longer a novice after that race. He was rated at 124 before the race, so he'll probably stay in the 130 rated races. He'll go to Saratoga for either the 130 rated races or one of the stakes.."
CFC Stables' Spring Heeled Jim (Ire), also ridden by Hendriks, won the $30,000 Maiden Hurdle by 1 3/4 lengths over Eternal Story (Fr), trained by Young, finishing the 2 1/8 mile race in 4:08.
"THAT WAS a surprise," said Brion. "He's a nice little horse. He didn't cost very much. Parker gave him a great ride. It looks like he's a nicer horse that I thought."
Spring Heeled Jim, who was running in his first race ever, was still in third jumping the last fence but came with a huge run in the stretch to win.
"The owners haven't even been in American racing for a year, so it was great for them," said Brion. "He'll probably go to Radnor. He needs more racing. It's a blessing and a curse when a horse wins first time out. Maybe after that, he'll go to Saratoga."
Upland Flats Racing's Freddy Flintshire, ridden by Hendriks, won the second division of the $30,000 Maiden Hurdle, beating Hurtgen Forest, trained by Kingsley, by 1 1/4 lengths, finishing the 2 1/8 mile race in 4:08, the same time as the first division.
Hendriks has said that Freddy Flintshire is a cool horse and one of his favorites.
"He's a barn favorite," said Brion. "I ride him every day. He's a sweet, kind horse. Qatar Racing owned him and raced him on the flat, but he was slow leaving the gate. His trainer told me because of that he should run over fences. He ran at Charleston last year as a 3-year-old and was third, but he was very green jumping. We did some more jumping with him, and then he was third at Aiken earlier this year. I'm excited to have him for Saratoga."
The Mean Queen had a slight injury that caused her to miss a few days of training, but Brion said she's back in training now.
"We'll have to decide whether to run her at Iroquois or wait for Saratoga," said Brion. "She won't run in the Smithwick, they'd put too much weight on her. Maybe she'd go in the Sheppard. She gets the mare allowance. Or there's a $100,000 mares race at Colonial. But our main goal is Far Hills."
Young saddled Leipers Fork Steeplechasers' Drewscourt (Ire), ridden by Tom Garner, to win the $25,000 Ratings Handicap Hurdle by a neck over Gaye Breeze (Ire), trained by Sean McDermott, finishing the 2 1/4 mile race in 4:20 1/5.
Jack Fisher saddled Matthew Groff's Bold Quest, ridden by Jamie Bargery, to win the $20,000 Maiden Claiming Hurdle by 4 1/2 lengths over Canudothetwist, trained by Kingsley, finishing the 2 mile race in 3:51 1/5.