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May 29, 2009

Blue Rider Claims High Hope Feature

Richard Valentine trains the winner for Whitewood Stable.

Whitewood Stable’s Blue Rider (Robert Walsh) bided his time behind leader Kenneth Ramsey’s Mabou (Padge Whelan) in the $25,000 Sport of Kings maiden special weight at the High Hope Steeplechase, May 17 in Lexington, Ky.

When Mabou fell at the 11th fence, Blue Rider inherited the lead and romped home to a seven-length victory. Mabou and Whelan were not injured.

“I just put him in the back, and when I saw there was an opening he popped right up and gave me his all,” Walsh said. “I didn’t know him that well, but he seemed to jump well.”

A 6-year-old chestnut by 1992 Eclipse Award champion 3-year-old A.P. Indy, the horse was bred in Kentucky by Skymarc Farm and made about $85,000 in his 14 starts on the track before switching to hurdles.

Trainer Richard Valentine thinks he would be suitable for some of the Pennsylvania turf courses in June.

“I think we are going to stick close to home first,” Valentine said. “Maybe the races at Philadelphia Park or Penn National. If all goes well I would like to see him later at Saratoga [N.Y.].”

While many horses struggled on soft turf the past couple of weekends, trainers found just the opposite at High Hope.

“I am not saying it was rock, but it was pretty firm,” Valentine said. “That was a shock. They must not have gotten any rain like we did.”

Walsh had another victory that day with Irv Naylor’s N J Devil for trainer Desmond Fogarty in the $10,000 maiden timber.

The New Jersey-bred had been kicking around various timber courses with limited success until this year when he won the Orange County Hunt Point-To-Point open timber (Va.) in March. A 10-year-old grandson of Nashua, N J Devil made $136,671 on the track before becoming a jumper.

“He’s a pretty straightforward little horse,” Walsh said. “I just let him run where he was comfortable, and he did the rest.”

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