Elkridge-Harford Point-to-Point races open up local horse racing season

On Atlanta Hall Farm, the home of Tom and Mimi Voss, the first Saturday in April was dry and bright, a good day to go to the races – the Elkridge-Harford Point-to-Point Races, that is.

Spirits were high, dogs on leashes were well-behaved – especially a huge mastiff-greyhound mix with an orange tie – and the horses were in fine form. The afternoon would bring some dramatic events, including a photo finish and several falls.

The first race, the Edward S. Voss Memorial, named for Voss' grandfather, was about three miles over timber (jumps). It began at 1:30 p.m. and ended 6.52.3 minutes later in a photo finish. Merriefield Farm's Foyle, trained by H. Bruce Fenwick with James Slater aboard, edged out Foxy Stable's Guts for Garters, trained by Sanna N. Hendriks and ridden by Jody Petty, for the win. Rosbrian Farm's Garryowen Star, trained by Louis Neilson III and ridden by Martin Rohan, came in third.

In the George C. Clement Memorial, Jackson Roberts rode Spencer Road (owner by Russell-Brewster-Tydings and trained by Blythe Miller Davies) for the win, followed closely by Armata Stables' Cornhusker, trained by Tom Voss and ridden by Kieran Norris. Merriefield Farm's Imperial Way, also trained by Tom Voss and ridden by Billy Santoro, came in third in the field of six.

The third race, the B. Frank Christmas Memorial, looked like a win-win for all three horses in the running. But Cleo, owned, trained and ridden by Marjorie Warden, fell at the seventh fence. Trying to avoid the fallen horse and jockey, Arin's Myst, owned, trained and ridden by Catherine Frederick, lost her rider. In his turn, Alexander Leventhal fell when his horse, Lucky Rita (trained by Regina Welsh), stumbled at the ninth jump. So there were no winners, only fence repairs and an ambulance transporting Warden, who suffered a possible concussion and broken wrist, to a helicopter headed for the hospital.

After a number of scratches, the Babe Saportas race began with two riders. Welcome Here Farm's Brands Hatch, trained and ridden by Blythe Miller Davies, came in first…and alone. Irvin S. Naylor's Kings Canyon (trained by William S. Meister and ridden by Suzanne Stettinius) pulled up and did not finish.

The Alfred J. Smithwick Memorial, one of two flat races (no jumps) about a mile on the turf, was won by Perry J. Bolton's Tempt Me Alex, trained by Tom Voss and ridden by Kieran Norris. Perry J. Bolton's Gokokogo, trained by Katherine S. Neilson and ridden by Cormac Farrell, came in second after Fishing Creek (Wendy Hendriks, Ricky Hendricks, Ivan Dowling) was disqualified for cutting a beacon. Charles C. Fenwick Jr.'s Puller, trained by Todd Wyatt and ridden by Blair Wyatt, came in third.

The final race, the Jane Watters Small Memorial, began with a field of four. Riverdee Stable's Prime Prospector (trained by Todd J. Wyatt and ridden by Blair Wyatt) came in first, followed closely by Irvin S. Naylor's Super Saturday (trained by Katherine S. Neilson and ridden by Jeb Hannum). The other two never saw the finish line.

The local "triple crown" resumes this weekend with the My Lady's Manor Races, to benefit nearby Ladew Topiary Gardens, on Saturday. Rain or shine, the gates on Jarrettsville Pike at Pocock Road in Monkton open at 10 a.m. The first race is at 1:30 p.m. Live bluegrass music by Second Field and food will be on tap, and tailgating is encouraged. Tablecloths and fresh flowers are optional. At the gate, general parking passes are $50 and family parking is $70. Passes purchased in advance on http://www.marylandsteeplechasing.com or at Ladew TopiaryGardens at 410-557-9570 are $10 less. Preferred parking at the race course ($150 and up) and admission to the Champagne Reception for this year's My Lady's Manor Race winner are available on the website.

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