Spring point-to-point racing begins this Saturday March 4, with Rappahannock in Virginia, but Billy Meister, one of the sports most prolific and winning trainers, won't have a horse there this year.
Meister, who helped fill the Delaware Valley point-to-points for years, often taking the Delaware Valley Point-to-Point Association's Leading Trainer title, and who rode the winner of the Maryland Hunt Cup three times as a jockey as well as saddling winners as a trainer, is now concentrating on training flat horses.
His most recent winner was his own Reawakened, who won her third race for Meister on Feb. 2 at Penn National.
"I've had one or two flat horses off and on for 20 years,"said Meister, who decided to concentrate on flat horses when he wasn't getting new owners for steeplechase horses. "I have about 15 in training now."
Meister said his two best horses, the allowance winners Peace Out and Ghost Game, were out of training now but would probably start back in a month or so.
Meister said he has two up and coming race horses in Scores to Settle, who ran a good third at Laurel on Feb.25 in his first race, and Jump a Fox, who was fourth in his first start at Penn National.
"They were both first time starters, and you don't expect much from first time starters," said Meister. "But they both got a good education."
Jump a Fox is owned by Meister's father, Carl J. (Bunny) Meister Jr.
"This is my first flat horse," said Bunny, who has been deeply involved in steeplechase racing for all his life and currently serves as chairman of the Brandywine Hills Point-to-Point and is on the board of the Delaware Valley Point-to-Point Association.
ANOTHER steeplechase trainer, KERI BRION, also had a flat winner in Pleasecallmeback, owned by Upland Flats Racing, who won a $24,000 Claiming race at Gulfstream by 3/4 length on Feb. 1.
Meanwhile, steeplechase jockey VIRGINIA KORRELL who has spent the winter in Ireland riding out for Andrew Slattery, finished third in a point-to-point race on Ahaknowyerself on Feb. 19 in Ireland.
BERNIE HOUGHTON has had three winners recently, all at Penn National.
Barlar, LLC's homebred Circuitt won a $15,400 Maiden Claiming race for 3-year-old fillies by 3/4 length on Jan. 27.
Harry Hoglander's homebred Our Mark Steven won an $18,100 Maiden Claiming race for 3 year olds by a nose on Feb. 2.
Daniel E.Lunceford's Shutup and Hang On won an $18,000 Starter Optional Claiming race by 4 1/4 lengths on Feb. 16.
McLANE HENDRIKS saddled his mother, Elizabeth Merryman's homebred Brodix to win an $18,000 Starter Optional Claiming race for 4 year olds and up by 3/4 length on Feb. 23 at Penn National.
GRAHAM MOTION saddled Shamrock Farm's Money's Worth to win a $27,000 Allowance Optional Claiming race for 4 year olds and up by 2 1/4 lengths on Feb.15 at Tampa Bay Downs.
Motion also saddled AMO Racing USA's Affirmative Lady to win an $84,000 Maiden Special Weight for 3-year-old fillies by 2 1/4 lengths at Gulfstream on Feb.26.