Lucky Seven

Big Saturdays in the spring. It’s what we always wanted from our steeplechase division and here we are with seven runners this weekend. Six at the Middleburg Spring Races in Virginia, 2 miles up the road, and one at the Grand National in Maryland, two hours up the road.

Awakened, Cool Jet (pictured) and Zabeel Champion (we’ll stick to alphabetical order) take aim at the first Grade 2 stakes of the season, the storied Temple Gwathmey. It’s a race held in the highest esteem in the context of steeplechasing and the context of a steeplechase lifer. I was lucky to win it twice as a jockey. To Ridley and Avanico way back in 1998-99. We finished second in it once as an owner. Dictina’s Boy way back in 2011.

Deep race tomorrow. Eight tough veterans of the toughest game. Snap Decision lugs 162 pounds over 2 1/2 miles. Noah And The Ark makes his first start since winning the Grand National at Far Hills. Eight-time winner Sebastopol makes his American debut. The Hero Next Door is dangerous on the front. Scorpion’s Revenge has earned checks in six straight stakes.

As for the Riverdee trio, Awakened won the Grade 1 Jonathan Sheppard last summer and should relish the firm ground (although there has been a day-long drizzle here). Zabeel Champion won back-to-back stakes in the fall when racing for Martin Tedham. Cool Jet graduated from the novice ranks in November. Sticking to alphabetical order, Awakened will wear a red cap, Cool Jet blue and Zabeel white. I’ve never had to think about that one.

Maidens Tiz A Giant, World Factor and King Tsunami make their NSA hurdle debuts at Middleburg.

Queens Empire stays close to home in the allowance timber at the Grand National.

A potential client asked how to choose a horse amongst the Riverdee roster. I thought to myself, ‘Well, I like all of them or they wouldn’t be on the roster.’

That gets tested every weekend.