Youth was served yesterday at the 98th running of the My Lady's Manor steeplechase in Monkton, but only after race stewards decided that a veteran was a little too far out of line coming toward the finish.
Erin Go Bragh, with seasoned rider Paddy Young in the irons, crossed the wire first by no more than a neck, edging Hot Springs, guided by 20-year-old Darren Nagle. But after a film review of the race, the three stewards awarded the victory to Hot Springs, citing a foul by Erin Go Bragh.
The infraction occurred near the last of 16 jumps and involved some bumping, which caused Nagle to take up on his mount momentarily. With the final margin so slender, the decision was made to overturn the unofficial result.
"In 50 years, I don't think I've ever won through a foul claim," said Irv Naylor, owner of Hot Springs, a relatively young steeplechaser of 7. "But this is the best young horse I've had in a long time. He's very athletic and wants to stay."
It was a sweet victory for Nagle, who was knocked out of action for the remainder of the season at the Manor last year after breaking a vertebra in a spill with Irish Laddie. This time, he not only won the $30,000 big race but completed the secondary feature, the John Rush Streett Memorial, with Irish Laddie.
Nagle said Erin Go Bragh "bumped and bulldogged me between the second to last and last fences. My horse lost concentration and didn't jump the last and nearly came down and fell."
Young had a different version of the contact. "It was pretty deceptive," he said of the film. "I think the best horse won. He had enough time to get there" through the stretch run.
Naylor, who is paralyzed and uses a wheelchair after a riding accident, said he believed there was no question his horse was fouled.
"The real test [of a potential foul] is, do you have to stop riding, and watching it with a lot of other people, I thought we made that test," he said.
"Really, I thought Darren had left him [the horse] a lot to do when you have a finisher like Erin Go Bragh and Paddy Young, one of the best pro riders, on him. But it worked out."
Nagle originally tried riding for trainer Doug Fout, who sent out Erin Go Bragh, but "it didn't work out for a variety of reasons." So, he then teamed with Desmond Fogarty, who Naylor said "did a terrific job getting this horse ready."
In another exciting finish, Flying Contraption edged Western Fling in the Streett, with Why Not Baby, the pacesetter most of the race, hanging onto third.
First race$30,000, The My Lady's Manor, abt 3 mi over timber
1. Hot Springs (D. Nagle)
2. dq-Erin Go Bragh (P. Young)
3. Bubble Economy (B. Durkee)
Time: 7:07. dq-finished first, disqualified and placed second.
Second race$15,000, The John Rush Streett Memorial, abt 3 mi over timber
1. Flying Contraption (B. Durkee)
2. Western Fling (G. Ryan)
3. Why Not Baby (W. Meister)
Time: 6:42. Scratched: Comanche Station, Takin Inventory, Haddix.
Third race$5,000, The John D. Schapiro Memorial, abt 3 mi over timber
1. Haddix (S. Burke)
2. Move West (S. Strawbridge)
3. Hotspur (C. Ryan)
Time: 6:18. Scratched: Riderwood.