The state's historic steeplechase season gets underway in earnest Saturday with the 101st edition of My Lady's Manor launching three consecutive weekends of major spring action.
Feature purses begin with $35,000 for the big race at My Lady's Manor and conclude with a $75,000 offering at the Maryland Hunt Cup in Glyndon on April 30.
While Tom Voss of Monkton (who has taken the early lead in the National Steeplechase Association trainer standings with three victories) campaigns at another meet near Atlanta, familiar top-flight local conditioners like Jack Fisher, William Meister, Ricky Hendriks, Katherine McKenna and Sanna Hendriks will have horses entered on the three-race Maryland card over timber.
South Monarch draws the favorite's role for the My Lady's Manor stakes, which is run over post-and-rail fences at three miles. The 9-year-old gelding will have seven rivals trying to prevent him from winning the race for the second consecutive year.
He finished second in the feature a year earlier and will have Jody Petty back in the saddle, who drove him to a head victory over Bubble Economy in 2010.
The prime opposition is expected to emanate from Bon Caddo, a runner-up in three major events last year, the Virginia Gold Cup, International Gold Cup and Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. Other prospective challengers include Prospectors Strike, Delta Park and Haddix.
Also on the program are the $10,000 John Rush Streett Memorial and the $7,500 John D. Schapiro Memorial.
Post time is 1:30 p.m. for My Lady's Manor with the other two races to follow at an event that annually attracts the largest sports-related crowd in Harford County.
Only one timber race has been held on the NSA circuit this year with Music To My Ears prevailing. Paddy Young has gotten off quickly in the jockey race with four wins, a second and a third among eight starts.and $55,350 in purse winnings.
The local spring steeplechase season concludes Memorial Day weekend at Fair Hill.
My Lady's Manor
What: My Lady's Manor steeplechase races
When: Saturday, first post, 1:30 p.m.
Where: Jarrettsville Pike and Pocock Road, Monkton
Directions from Beltway: Take Exit 27B, Dulaney Valley Road 4.1 miles. Bear left onto Jarrettsville Pike, past Jacksonville for another 5 miles.
Beneficiary: Ladew Topiary Gardens
April 23: Maryland Grand National
April 30: Maryland Hunt Cup
For more informaton: http://www.marylandsteeplechasing.com