Keri Brion saddled C & C Racing’s Pac Yer Tack, a 6-year-old gelding by Purge, to win the Airlie Steeplechase open hurdle race at the Warrenton Hunt Point-to-Point in Warrenton, Va., on March 18.
That was his first start over fences.
“C & C Racing is my sister Kim Takacs and me,” said Brion, who is married to flat jockey Andrew Wolfsont. “We got him last October. Andrew was riding him at Penn National, where he was running for $5,000. He had won seven races and made almost $200,000. He has a big, long stride.”
“We went to his trainer Howard Brown, and he said, “For $3,500 he’s yours,’” said Brion. “He’s 100 percent sound.”
“We started schooling him over fences,” said Brion, who is Jonathan Sheppard’s assistant trainer. “He’s been schooling with Jonathan’s horses, and he can school with the best of them. Jonathan lets me keep him at his stable.”
Brion said that she’d wanted to run him in the maiden race, but she wanted Gerard Galligan to ride him, and Galligan was committed to Kathy Neilson in both sections of the maiden, so she decided to put him in the open race just to get a race in him.
“Gerard told me that going to the start he was thinking he was going to be last, but then when they were three fences from home he knew he was going to win,” said Brion.
In the Maiden Hurdle, Ricky Hendriks saddled Eve Ledyard’s Quarla to win the first division under Ross Geraghty.
“This was Quarla’s first start over fences,” said Hendriks. “We didn’t know what to expect.”
“Eve, who is my girlfriend, saw her run at Saratoga on TV, and she liked her, so she followed her,” said Hendriks. “She’d been running for $20,000. We waited until they dropped her down, and we claimed her at The Meadowlands for $10,000.
“She’s a very nice mare,” Hendriks said. “She’s very quiet. Eve fox hunted her all winter, and she delivered Christmas presents to her family on her on Christmas Eve.
“Eve also rode Rosbrian Farm’s Swansea Mile (Ire) to win the Novice Rider Flat,” said Hendriks.
Jazz Napravnik saddled Flying Horse Farm’s Jesse O, ridden by Jeff Murphy, to win the second division of the Maiden Hurdle.
Le Chevalier, trained by Julie Gomena for Over Creek Stables and ridden by Mark Beecher, won the Open timber, and Beecher trained and rode Donald Baker’s Boogie Biz to win the Novice timber.
AT PIEDMONT Fox Hounds Point-to-Point in Upperville, Va., on March 25, Ebullience, owned and trained by Sheppard and ridden by Galligan, won the Heartland Cup Maiden flat race.
Going For It, also owned and trained by Sheppard and ridden by Annie Yeager, finished first in the George Robert Slater Memorial Maiden Timber race but was disqualified for jumping an additional fence on the way to the finish line.
Secret Soul, owned, trained and ridden by Jeff Murphy, was moved up to be the winner of the Maiden race.
“Ebullience is a half-brother of Italian Wedding out of Effervescent by Fairbanks,” said Brion. “We’ve been working on getting him settled. He ran at Presque Isle last year.”
While the winning margin was a head, Brion said that Ebullience actually won pretty easily.
“Gerard never moved on him,” said Brion.
Rutledge Classic, owned and trained by Eva Smithwick and ridden by McLane Hendriks, won the Amateur and Novice Rider Timber race.
Todd Wyatt saddled Peter A. Jay & Sarah Jay’s Prime Prospector, ridden by Amelia McGuirk, to win the Foxhunter Timber, and Skunk, owned by Ronald Blankenship and trained and ridden by Emme Fullilove, won the Lady Rider Timber.
KATHY NEILSON saddled three horses to finish second at the Green Spring Valley Point-to-Point in Cockeysville, Md., on April 1.
‘I was stuck on seconds, but seconds aren’t bad,” said Neilson. “The horses ran well.”
Super Saturday, trained by Neilson for owner Irv Naylor and ridden by Galligan, finished second by 2 ½ lengths to Church Mouse, trained by Suzie Owings for J.W.Y. Martin and ridden by Brett Owings in the Open Timber.
“We were giving Church Mouse 20 pounds,” said Neilson.
Aquies, also trained by Neilson for Naylor and ridden by Galligan, lost by ¾ of a length to Spirit of Shanklu (GB), trained and ridden by Mark Beecher for owner Thistledown Farm.
Todd McKenna trained Golden Slammer, ridden by Forrest Kelly and owned by Upland Partners, to win the Heavyweight Timber.
Sheppard won two of the three flat races; the first with Lawn Ranger, ridden by Brion for owner Turf Stable LLC, and the second with his own Expecting, ridden by Galligan.
Cyril Murphy trained Jarir, owned by Naylor and ridden by Carol Ann Sloan, to win the third flat race.
Neilson’s third second was in the Medium Pony Flat race, when Fionna, ridden by her daughter Nina, lost to Count Chocula, ridden by Ellie Nickel.
Hickory, ridden by Scarlet Davies, won the Small Ponies race, and Mookie Monster, ridden by Parker Hendriks, won the Large Ponies.
Colin Smith on Jigsaw won the Medium Ponies Field Master Chase, and Tommy Fenwick on Modernly Millie won the Large Ponies Field Master Chase.
Ella Brophy on Squeaky Ceci won the Horses Junior Field Masters Chase, and Teddy Davies on Buckshot won the non-thoroughbred section.
RICHARD VALENTINE saddled two winners as well as two horses that finished second at the Orange County Hounds Point-to-Point in Middleburg, Va., on April 2.
Valentine won both Maiden Hurdle races, the first with Kinross Farm’s Cuba Libre, ridden by Shane Crimin, and the second with Mutin (Fr), again for Kinross Farm, ridden by Kieran Norris.
He also saddled the second placed horse in the second Maiden race, Bob’n For Silver, owned by Magalen Bryant and ridden by Crimin.
“Kinross bought Cuba Libre from Chad Brown,” said Valentine. “He fell in his first start at Far Hills last fall, so I wanted to run him in a point-to-point to get his confidence back. I think a lot of him. He’s a nice horse.”
Kinross had been watching Mutin run in France,” said Valentine. “He won his first two starts in France and then went to Dubai. Then he had a bleeding issue. He has a lot of issues. This was his first start for us.” “Both Cuba Libre and Mutin will be running in sanctioned races next,” said Valentine, who also trained Class Cherokee, ridden by McLane Hendriks for Mrs. George Ohrstrom, to place second to Georgetown Burning, trained by Neil Morris, ridden by Norris and owned by Lana Wright, in the Novice Timber.
Randolph Rouse saddled his own Hishi Soar, ridden by Galligan, to win the Open Hurdle.
Delawan, owned by Ballyerin Racing, trained by Madison Meyers and ridden by Fullilove, won the Novice Rider Flat, and Balance the Budget, owned by Stonelea Stables, trained by Julie Gomena and ridden by Geraghty, won the Open Flat.