A week after the Elkridge-Harford Hunt Point-to-Point races launched the spring steeplechase season, the first event of Maryland's Steeplechase Triple Crown will be held today in Monkton. Two more events will follow on successive April Saturdays in northern Baltimore and Harford counties.
The 105th My Lady's Manor Steeplechase Races take place this afternoon, followed by the 113th Grand National on April 18. The granddaddy of them all, the 119th Maryland Hunt Cup, will run April 25 over a grueling 4-mile, 22-jump course at Worthington Farms.
Gates open at 10 a.m. for today's first race, the My Lady's Manor Steeplechase, which begins at 1:30 p.m. and boasts a top-notch field vying for a $30,000 purse. Three other races fill out the card.
Bon Caddo, who swept the 2011 My Lady's Manor and the prestigious Virginia Gold Cup the same year, was supposed to be part of a large field that also included the hard-luck Foyle, a photo-finish runner-up at the 2014 Grand National. Neither horse will run today, however, because Bon Caddo was nominated but never entered and Foyle was scratched, as was Super Saturday, just before Wednesday's deadline.
Those remaining in the 10-horse field with high expectations are Brother Sy, who romped by 42 lengths in the 2014 Grand National's Western Run Plate amateur apprentice timber race, and Cornhusker, the 2014 $50,00 Iroquois Steeplechase Mason Houghland Memorial winner.
Dakota Slew, Grinding Speed, Joshua G, Snow Blizzard, Peace Fire, Senior Senator, Straight To It and Tax Ruling round out the group that will vie with Brother Sy and Cornhusker over the 16-jump, 3-mile course off Jarrettsville Pike and Pocock Road.
The other races are the first division of the John Rush Streett Memorial, which begins at 2:15 p.m. and boasts a $15,000 purse; the $15,000 John Rush Streett Memorial second division race, starting at 3 p.m.; and the $10,000 John D. Schapiro Memorial, with a 3:45 p.m. post time.
When racegoers aren't watching their favorite horse performing on the course or prancing in the paddock, there will be other activities to occupy their time. Live bluegrass music, food vendors and equine-oriented merchandise tents will be on site, and a large video screen will be available for viewing throughout the day.
Admission is by parking pass only. Prices range, per car, from family and general parking ($50-$70 at the gate) up to $400 winner's gold circle parking by the finish line. Fans are invited to watch the races from any vantage point, as long as they are in a secure area.
Passes can be purchased at the gate, Dogwood Tack in Jacksonville, Hess Country Spirits in White Hall or the Wine Merchant in Brooklandville.
Steeplechase Triple Crown
April 11: My Lady's Manor, Monkton
April 18: Grand National, Butler
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April 25: Maryland Hunt Cup, Glyndon