Five of this year's top 10 money-winning timber horses will be vying for the winner's share of a $25,000 purse in the Ski Roundtop Trophy Stakes, today's feature on the steeplechase card at Shawan Downs in Baltimore County.
With the leader, Salmo, injured, Augustin Stables' Irish Prince could supplant him atop the list, but he'll have to contend with a host of challengers trained by Jack Fisher.
The Monkton-based Fisher has four entries in the field, all of whom could substantially improve their standing with a victory. The Fisher entries are Seeyouattheevent, fourth among money winners, Mr Bombastic (fifth), Bubble Economy (sixth) and Northern Thinking (ninth).
"The ground at Shawan is good because it can be irrigated," Fisher said. "I'm running all these horses because they need to get a race in. They're all pretty good."
So is Fisher this season. As the National Steeplechase Association fall schedule is launched in earnest, Fisher has a serious chance to capture his second national training title in four years. He is battling Pennsylvania-based Jonathan Sheppard for the lead in the money standings and is one win and less than $11,000 behind as the circuit heads into the stretch.
But Fisher's large stable has only 15 horses in training, a concession to the drought that has turned training areas into concrete-like surfaces.
"The ground is so hard you can't do anything," he said. "So, the number I have jumping is lower than normal."
Fisher names Irish Prince as the horse to beat today but believes at least three of his horses have legitimate chances, including defending champion Bubble Economy. Fisher has eight horses entered on the five-race program.
Also slated to compete is the nation's leading rider, Xavier Aizpuru, winner of 13 races in 50 starts. He won three of the five races at Saratoga and carries a two-victory lead on Danielle Hodsdon.
If you go
What -- Steeplechase races
Where -- Shawan Downs, Lutherville-Timonium
When -- Today, first post 1 p.m.
Directions -- From Baltimore, take Interstate 83 to Falls Road and continue 6.2 miles to intersection of Shawan Road. Follow signs to parking.
Tickets -- General parking available at gate for $35 per carload.
Beneficiary -- Greater Baltimore Medical Center