Tradition continues. In a year of upheaval and uncertainty, the International Gold Cup offers some semblance of normalcy this weekend with a full card of action – hurdle, timber, steeplethon, apprentice jockey timber/flat/hurdle, Virginia-breds. You want it? You got it. 

Ten races. Ten chances to win. Unfortunately, we won’t hit the ATM in Marshall, roll into the owner/trainer tent next to the paddock, bet like it’s our last night in Vegas and revel in our sport. We’ll miss our friend at the tote window, the ice-cold Full Nelsons behind the bar, the joys of cashing a ticket and the commiserations of bad trips, bad luck (steeplethon, anyone?). We’ll see you there next year. 

As for two weeks ago (we’ll gloss over 0-for-3 at Willowdale), Sean picked six winners (Lemonade Thursday, Mr. Bridger, Brianbakescookies, Flash Jackson, Invocation, New Member) to take over at the top with 12 wins. Joe countered with four (Lemonade Thursday, Brianbakescookies, Flash Jackson, Invocation) to move into second with 10 wins while Tom lost his lead with just two winners (Lemonade Thursday, Flash Jackson) to fade into third. 

This week, Sean will be at the Gold Cup (sans the betting money), Joe will be at the Maryland Million and Tom will be in Saratoga co-hosting the steeplechase show with Megan Connolly. Watch it on the NSA website.

First round at the Henry Street Taproom is on the line. 

Flying in the dark as the form has not been published as of Friday afternoon on drf.com. Frustrating. The PPs showed up in our email boxes late but they're missing some key pieces of data. The sport really needs to improve its information. Sorry, climbing down off the soapbox now.

Race 1. Maiden Hurdle. $20,000. 2 1/8 miles.
Another full field searching for a diploma and a little Christmas money in a year when both will come in handy. Arlington claim Cause For Pardon ran well in his debut when third behind Mr. Bridger in the quicker division of the Middleburg maiden. New Zealand import Princeville has posted two seconds in two starts. 

Sean: Cause For Pardon, Princeville, Douglas Road. 
Joe: Cause For Pardon, Douglas Road, Princeville.
Tom: Cause For Pardon, Princeville, Douglas Road.

Race 2. Ratings Handicap Hurdle. $30,000. 2 1/8 miles.
Gallant veterans Go Get The Basil and New Member take on one-time novice stakes competitors Elucidation and Cracker Factory and neophytes French Light and A Silent Prayer in a steamer. Apprentice Elizabeth Scully and Elucidation won over the course this summer and won again at Foxfield. French Light was lights out at Saratoga.

Sean: French Light, New Member, Elucidation. 
Joe: Elucidation, New Member, French Light.
Tom: New Member, French Light, Go Get The Basil.

Race 3. Steeplethon. $15,000. 3 miles.
Middleburg stalwart Invocation returns and stretches another 3 furlongs for Straylight, Mark Beecher and Sean McDermott. Skydiving and Hepcat handled Middleburg, well, handled everything but the hairpin turn. Hurdle stakes winner Belisarius seemed to enjoy the change of scenery at Middleburg. 

Sean: Mercoeur, Invocation, Belisarius. 
Joe: Mercoeur, Invocation, My Afleet.
Tom: Invocation, Mercoeur, Skydiving.

Race 4. Maiden Claiming Hurdle. $10,000. 2 1/8 miles.
Oh, the age-old question. No form or old form? New shooter or old ammo? The devil you know, the devil you don’t? West Newton and Yankee Doodle Boy battled to a 1-2 exacta at Old Dominion. 

Sean: He’ll Do, West Newton, Penitence.
Joe: Sim Card, He’ll Do, Include It.
Tom: Penitence, He'll Do, Include It.

Race 5. The Baltimore Stables Ratings Handicap Hurdle. $25,000. 2 1/8 miles.
Promising 2020 graduates Baltimore Bucko and Mr. Bridger take aim at their higher rated counterparts, Zanzi Win, Galway Kid, Espoir De Loire and Family Tree. Court Ruler won at Saratoga. Cool race. 

Sean: Galway Kid, Court Ruler, Baltimore Bucko.
Joe: Galway Kid, Family Tree, Espoir De Loire.
Tom: Galway Kid, Family Tree, Court Ruler.

Race 6. The 81st International Gold Cup. $25,000. 3 ½ miles.
Wow, this looks like a bag of Halloween candy. That’s what happens when you lose champion Doc Cebu for the timber feature. Curve Of Stones won at Middleburg two weeks ago. Codrington College has proven form. Could Super Saturday turn back the clock? Like a barroom door, wide open.

Sean: Codrington College, Curve Of Stones, Satish. 
Joe: Super Saturday, Codrington College, Satish.
Tom: Hanno, Curve Of Stones, Super Saturday.

Race 7. Apprentice Rider Timber. $5,000. 3. Miles.
Come on, Class Indian. One. Time. My. Son.

Sean: Cheers To Us, Withoutmoreado, Class Indian.
Joe: Cheers To Us, Vintage Vinnie, Withoutmoreado.
Tom: Cheers To Us, Vintage Vinnie, Withoutmoreado.

Race 8. Apprentice Rider Hurdle. $5,000. 2 1/8 miles.
Three apprentice races on the card, great initiative, amazing what a few parents and a few open-minded leaders can do. Elucidation, if he goes here, is a standout. Beyond him, another barroom door. 

Sean: Elucidation, Ebullience, Be Counted. 
Joe: Elucidation, Be Counted, Orchestra Leader.
Tom: Elucidation, Corky Lemon, Be Counted.

Race 9. Virginia-Bred Flat. 1 ¼ miles

Invester gets 38 pounds from River Deep. That’s 38 cans of soup. 760 AA batteries. 114 medium-sized bananas. If you believe in weight...

Sean: Invester, River Deep, Ismusbemyluckyday.
Joe: Invester, Vincent Van Gogo, River Deep.
Tom: Vincent Van Gogo, Ismusbemyluckyday, River Deep. 

Race 10. Apprentice Rider Flat. 1 ½ miles.
We’re tired. Good luck in the lucky last. 

Sean: Choo Choo, Bodes Well, Declared. 
Joe: Choo Choo, Declared, Swim.
Tom: Bodes Well, Declared, Choo Choo.