It’s been a whirlwind these last couple months with the Triple Crown races, all of the updates in the StableDuel app and showcasing Steeplechase racing for the first time from the exciting events in four different states.
If you didn’t get to attend any of the jump races in person this season, there is another round of events coming up in the fall. Think of jump racing as more of a ‘field’ based event both in the style of hospitality and the racing. Instead of running around a set ‘oval’ that has a final stretch, back stretch, and first turn and last turn, the horses are instead running around what Mother Nature herself designed with uphills, downhill, through water, over hedges, and around trees. As a fan, you get to experience the event outdoor in whichever element the sky chooses that day. Maybe your friends and you chose a tailgate (which by the way some people put on quite a show) or grabbed one of the offered hospitalities that rival those weddings you get invited to throughout the summers with tents and outdoor bars (and DJ’s and dancefloors at some!).
Over the 5 weeks, you got to see horses run multiple times and come back for a 3rd or 4th year to try and win the same race again and again (RENEGADE RIVER at Willowdale). 13 year old champions go up against 14 year old champions (ANDI’AMU (FR) vs MYSTIC STRIKE (S) at Middleburg) running three miles over timber jumps, horses you remember from the flat industry now really finding their stride in the jump world (CROSS BORDER). Learning about new trainers, jockeys, and owners has itself been a great part of the process and seeing some of them recently pop up in the flat racing world has given fans another reason to cheer both sports on and follow along.
Over the series of the 7 meets, the StableDuel app offered a Free To Play contest for each with $2000 in prizes paid out to the Top 25 finishers with top spot taking home $500. For the first time, fans could have a ‘rooting interest’ on site and at home and watch the live races within the StableDuel app. Players from across the nation participated including fans on site following the app as they watched the horses go by right in front of them.
Let’s do a recap of the racedays themselves.
The Jump Into Racing season kicked off with the Middleburg Races in central Virginia which was a great ‘warm-up’ for a few of the horses for the graded stakes later in the season. One race that everyone was ready for was The Middleburg Hunt Cup which had 5 horses going 3 1/4 miles over timber fences but most importantly, saw ANDI’AMU (FR) vs MYSTIC STRIKE (S) go head to head with this being Andi’s first race of the season. Andi came out on top in this one from trainer Leslie Young with Jack Doyle aboard giving fans a great race all the way to the finish. Stay tuned for their next meet up….
The feature race on the day, The Temple Gwathmey (Grade II), acted as a warm up for SNAP DECISION who still showed his domination bringing home the title and the $60,000 prize money. Pretty steep cost to StableDuel players in the app but it was worth it.
The day was fantastic even with a heavy storm blowing in just before the start of the races but gave the ground some great softness for the horses and challenged attendees to play some car games while they waited it out until the skies cleared. Want to experience the races all over again? Check out the LIVESTREAM from America’s Best Races.
The next weekend the focus shifted to FOXFIELD RACES located in Charlottesville, VA. Last year StableDuel offered a contest at their fall meet first the first time so to come back a second round (and in person) was even more exciting. For the first time, SD had a branded tent to help people get signed up in the app and navigate their way to a winning stable. The weather couldn’t have been nicer for such a great day and the crowd was filled with college students in the Orange Zone (infield) and scattered over hundreds of tailgating tents. The younger crowd was ecstatic to have an ability to play along as they watched the horses come around the bend and jump the course right in front of them. Owner Upland Flats took home the feature on the day with WEST NEWTON (GB) with Harry Beswick aboard.
Next we headed to the Virginia Gold Cup which is on Kentucky Derby Day. The VA Gold Cup is also one of two jump races that offers traditional wagering. In the headliner, the $100,000 Virginia Gold Cup, which is a Timber Race run over a 4 mile course, the two we saw go head to head came back for another round. Leslie Young’s ANDI’AMU once again went up against his one year senior MYSTIC STRIKE but this time MYSTIC STRIKE was able to get there first and took home the trophy for trainer Tod McKenna. Jockey Gerard Galligan ecstatic which his mount over the 4 miles. See the full recap by Tod Marks HERE.
Quick turnaround from the VA Gold Cup on Saturday to Winterthur Point to Point located in Delaware. Trainer Todd McKenna continued his success over the Timber jumps with another big win at Winterthur with a horse named Bob’s Bar. Maybe the actual Bob’s Bar is where jockey Harry Beswick went to celebrate after this win as it kicked him up to the leading jockey with 8 total wins for the spring season. Wonder if this was the point he decided he was going after the Champion jockey title this year? See the interview with him about his quest for the Champion title from the #JumpIntoRacing Livestream (Jump ahead to 51.49) or click here: https://www.youtube.com/live/u6RJNmNTkA4?feature=share&t=3102
Last two weeks of the season coming up with the second to last weekend showcasing the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville, TN (right by Taylor Swifts home just in case there are Swifties reading this) and the Willowdale Steeplechase in Kennett Square, PA.
At Willowdale, the day began with a victory for leading trainer Leslie Young, who is off to a sizzling 2023 start. Young saddled Tom Rice’s Booby Trap in the $10,000 Liam Magee handicap hurdle for apprentice jockeys at 2 1/4 miles. At the break, Mason Hardaway Lampton’s Three O One and Erin Swope darted off to a large lead and maintained their edge until giving way to Ashwell Stable’s Top Brass, also trained by Young and ridden by Virginia Korrell, near the fourth fence. The two contenders remained side by side, with Straylight Racing’s Frontline Citizen in pursuit for most of the going and the rest of the field far back. Nearing the stretch, the runners began to bunch up as Top Brass dug down and Booby Trap, with Conor Tierney, launching his bid. From there, it was a two-way battle to the finish with Booby Trail on top by 1 1/4 lengths.
In a crazy exciting race, Kiplin Hall’s RENEGADE RIVER, who won the race two years ago, showed his early domination with George Daly in the saddle until FLAMING SWORD and Zach Miller unleashed a huge rally to take over at the three-mile mark. But RENEGADE was far from done, coming on again and drawing off after the final fence to score by 8 LENGTHS for trainer Willie Dowling. Read the full recap from TOD MARKS HERE.