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Bonita Farm's Moonsox takes My Lady's Manor steeplechase

Home cooking, indeed.

Just a few miles northeast of the My Lady's Manor steeplechase course sits Bonita Farm, the long-running operation by the Boniface family that produced the last Maryland-based winner of the Preakness, Deputed Testamony.

Saturday, those same connections motored down Route 1 to capture the 103rd edition of the My Lady's Manor steeplechase with Moonsox, a 7-year-old chestnut gelding whose grandsire was, coincidentally, Deputed Testamony

Jockey Amelia McGuirk scored big in her first sanctioned race with an impressive stretch run that left five rivals convincingly beaten.

"He took care of me," said McGuirk, who prefers to be known as Lia. "When I started to come into the final run, I knew I had a lot of horse left."

Moonsox, by Mojave Moon out of Sister Sox, had only one win in 19 lifetime starts and had trailed four of the other entries in Saturday's race during 2012 meetings. That included a rather dull sixth in the My Lady's Manor taken by Incomplete and a spill in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.

"He's a year older and has a little more experience," pointed out trainer Kevin Boniface."It's only his second year over fences. He was beaten 15 lengths last year, but he hurt a stifle, yet finished."

Added McGuirk, "This is a totally different horse now."

Owned by Nelson and Traveler Stable — which derives its name from George Washington's horse and Robert E. Lee's mount — Moonsox is all family. That operation includes Boniface's daughter and son-in-law.

"I just tried to save ground and jump well," McGuirk said. "The ground was perfect and I loved the course."

The entry considered a prohibitive favoritde, Grinding Speed, made a move late in the race, but then tumbled at the 15th fence. Rider Mark Beecher was not hurt seriously and competed in the next race.

Straight To It, winner of the New Jersey Hunt Cup by 3 1/2 lengths over Moonsox last fall, raillied for second and Bon Caddo, the 2011 champion at the Manor, took third for the second consecutive year.

Because of a surplus of entries, the seconday feature, the John Rush Street Memorial, was conducted in two divisions, each offering a $10,000 purse.

In the first division, Diana Gillam notched another triumph for the female side, fending off Alfa Beat, with James Slater aboard, while riding Old Timer to a narrow score.

But Slater got even in the second division, taking Ebanour to the winner's circle after a battle with veteran lady rider Blair Wyatt, who steered Raven's Choice to the place.

The weather was nearly ideal for the four-race program, which attracted an estimated 10,000 fans to Monkton.

Gilman grad Connor Hankin, a 19-year-old who attends Virginia, did not finish in the money in his two races.

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