It’s June, do you know where your steeplechase season went? The National Steeplechase Association circuit started in mid-April (instead of mid-March) and extends to a third month with Saturday’s stop in Tryon, N.C. for the 74th Tryon Block House Races. The meet has changed locations and management – now calling the Green Creek Racecourse at the Tryon International Equestrian Center home.
Saturday’s card consists of five races worth $75,000 and provides a bridge from last week’s Virginia Gold Cup meet to the rich Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville, Tenn. June 26. Post time at Tryon is 12:30 p.m. You can watch the live stream on the NSA website.
If you’re watching the TIHR handicappers, things got interesting last week. Joe and Sean got kicked around by Tom, who tabbed four winners – Schoodic, Yankee Doodle Boy, Makkadangdang and Rakhaa – over the two days. Joe (Yankee Doodle Boy and Baltimore Bucko) and Sean (Schoodic and Baltimore Bucko) had two each. That leaves things in a 15-15-15 tie. Really.
First race. $10,000 Cannon Harmon Memorial maiden claiming hurdle, 2 miles. 12:30 p.m. These always fill. Ten signed up led by Argentic (0-for-7 with a second and two thirds). He was second at the gold Cup last week. Air Lift was third in that race while The Flasche was third at Radnor. Booby Trap makes his jump debut for Leslie Young’s barn after getting claimed at Charles Town in September. He’s by Hard Spun out of a Kitten’s Joy mare, which ought to make anybody pay attention.
Joe: The Flasche, Argentic, Air Lift.
Tom: Booby Trap, Argentic, Air Lift.
Sean: Booby Trap, Argentic, Better Tapit.
Second race. $20,000 Tryon Riding and Hunt Club maiden hurdle, 2 miles. 1:05. Seven tackle this and range from first-timer Shootin The Breeze from Kathy Neilson to Sea Mast making his seventh try. Lap Of The Gods has been second and third twice each (for three trainers) and goes back to Sanna Neilson’s barn on his second claim of 2021. Chetzeron tries to right his American career after two pull-ups last year. Cause For Pardon was third at Radnor and also in his hurdle debut last year. Arch Kingsley gets aboard Tolaga Bay, who might be difficult to catch. Shootin The Breeze fits on pedigree as a son of Hard Spun and a half-brother to Grade 3 flat winners It’s Tea Time and Ultra Brat among others.
Joe: Chetzeron, Cause For Pardon, Lap Of The Gods.
Tom: Lap Of The Gods, Cause For Pardon, Tolaga Bay.
Sean: Tolaga Bay, Cause For Pardon, Chetzeron.
Third race. $20,000 Carter Brown Memorial maiden hurdle, 2 miles. 1:40. Eight look to graduate here and, like the first division, cover some bases. Lizzy makes her debut for Keri Brion, who also entered Swim (a 4-year-old son of English Channel and three-time flat winner Nashindy). Turbo Drive returns after losing his rider with a slip and a stumble at the Gold Cup last week. Silver Crescent was second at Camden in his 2021 debut and also got close in 2019. Princeville makes his ninth start over jumps and was behind Silver Crescent at Camden.
Joe: Silver Crescent, Swim, Turbo Drive.
Tom: Cainudothetwist, Silver Crescent, Princeville.
Sean: Silver Crescent, Turbo Drive, Princeville.
Fourth race. $30,000 Block House handicap hurdle for horses rated 125 and below, 2 miles. 2:15. Seven turn up for this, led by the 124-rated Adjutant. He’s got a win and two thirds in three American starts (plus a couple of wins in England) and skipped last week in favor of this spot. Bodes Well was third at Camden after getting run down by Noah And The Ark late. Veteran Show Court was second in that race. Hepcat was third at Willowdale and second (ahead of Adjutant) at Radnor. Repeat Repeat looked good beating up on less-experienced foes at Middleburg May 1. He gets a tougher test today. Sportswear was flying in 2019, but has struggled since. His dam Casual Look made $602,657 and won the Epsom Oaks on the flat.
Joe: Repeat Repeat, Sportswear, Show Court.
Tom: Repeat Repeat, Show Court, Bodes Well.
Sean: Repeat Repeat, Show Court, Bodes Well.
Fifth race. Training flat, 1 1/2 miles. 2:50. Seven line up in the finale. Welcome back Knockholt. Maserati dusted off his track shoes, in first start since 2016, on the flat at Winterthur. Contented makes his first start since 2019. Motivational tunes up for a timber start at the Iroquois.
Joe: Grey Giant, Maserati, Contented.
Tom: Maserati, Contented, Grey Giant.
Sean: Hurtgen Forest, Motivational, Contented.