For the second Saturday in a row the racing and weather gods must have conferred, for the 107th running of the My Lady's Manor Steeplechase was another picture perfect day of sport in the Harford County countryside that produced its share of upsets, as well.
A few clouds in the early part of the day kept the temperatures mild before departing mid-day to allow the sun to break through for the second half of the meeting's card over the Ladew Gardens course in Monkton.
The feature race of the day, The My Lady's Manor Steeplechase saw five horses go to the start including the Maryland Hunt Cup nominated entries Foyle and Drift Society.
The number four horse, Grand Manan, piloted by jockey Darren Nagle who is no stranger to the Manor course, went to the post as the experts' pick thanks to his 2016 timber win record.
However, it was the number five horse, Lemony Bay (GB), who took the winner's share of the $30,000 purse as Jeff Murphy in a driving finish managed to stave off the number two, Drift Society by a length, giving owner Bruton Street-US and trainer Jack Fisher the first win of the day. In the process, Lomony Bay set a new race record of 5:51 4/5 taking four seconds off Push and Pull's 1992 time of 5:56.
Drift Society (IRE) (jockey, Haden Frost), also owned by Bruton Street- US and Fisher trained, finished second with Michael A. Smith's Le Chevalier (Mark Beecher/rider, Julie Gomena/trainer) coming in the third. The favorite, Grand Manan was fourth. Foyle was fifth.
The second race on the day's card was the $15,000 John Rush Street Memorial Steeplechase's first division. Seven horses went to the post with the number three horse, Snobby Scamp, having been scratched.
Owner Charles C. Fenwick, Jr.'s Jack Fisher trained, Doc Cebu, went in as the favorite with jockey Haden Frost in the irons. With a time of 6:18 3/5, Frost, in his second trip of the day around the course, came out on top this time around as Doc Cebu came home the winner by four and a half lengths over Nancy A. Reed's Handsome Hoyt (Steve Clements/rider, Katherine Neilson/trainer) in second and Wits End Stable's Durer (Mark Beecher/rider, William Dowling/ trainer). The Joseph Davies trained Touchdowntony was fourth.
Third race of the day, the second division of the John Rush Street saw a seven-horse field competing for the purse.
The third time around was definitely the charm for jockey Haden Frost who pulled off his second win of the day this time as he piloted Northwoods Stable's Naturally Won to a one length victory for the owners and trainer William Dowling. Thistledown Farm's Spirit of Shankly (GB) ridden and trained by Mark Beecher came in second with Irvin S. Naylor's Aquies, piloted by Steve Clements and trained by Katherine Neilson finishing third. The winning time was 6:19 4/5.
The race saw added excitement as the number one horse, Gas Can Eddie, jumped the wing of the 15th fence before running off course into a wooded area causing rider Bethany Baumgardner to make an emergency dismount, landing on her feet.
Baumgardner was unhurt and according to her mother although disappointed as the horse had been going extremely well up to this point, Baumgardner was also amused as Gas Can Eddie had played the same trick on jockey Billy Meister three years ago at the same spot.
The final contest of the day was the sixteenth running of the John D. Schapiro Memorial Steeplechase.
Seven horses went to the start but it was Class Indian owned by Jeremy Batoff and trained by William Dowling with Justin Batoff in the irons who came home first in the $15,000 contest.
Batoff and Class Indian led the field from wire to wire and took the win by five and a quarter lengths, the broadest margin of the day in a time of 6:00 2/5. Ivy Hill Stable's On the Corner (Sara Katz/Rider, Alicia Murphy/trainer) was second and Grey Lake Stable's Whatdidyousee(sic) (Annie Yeager/rider, Ivan Dowling/trainer) was third. Local owner Peter A. Jay's Prime Prospector ridden by Amelia McGuirk and trained by Todd Wyatt was fourth.
Judging by the number of cars that kept arriving throughout the morning until almost post time, the attendance appeared to be one of the highest in recent years.
Adding to the day's color and providing a reminder of the long history of the My Lady's Manor was the attendance by the Washburn and Hopkins families of Harford County, celebrating the 80th and 90th anniversaries of their family's connection to the race meeting.
Helen Washburn's late father was Victor P. Noyes and the Washburn and Hopkins children are his grandchildren. In 1927 Noyes, a noted local trainer who originally lived in the Baltimore County's Long Green Valley, was the winning rider of the My Lady's Manor Steeplechase on Wilson K. Levering's Royal Duck.
In 1936 Noyes trained Sporting Print for Mrs. Francis P. Garvan who tied in a dead heat with Stuart S. Janney, Jr.'s Justinian 2nd in the Manor Race of that year.
In 1937 Noyes trained the winners of all four races on that year's card including Garvan's Tertius (My Lady's Manor winner) and her Kepi, winner of the John Rush Street Memorial.