Monday, May. 20, 2024

Edwards Owns The Feature At Stoneybrook


On race day at the Stoneybook Steeplechase, April 7, race director Toby Edwards is supposed to be calm, cool and collected by the time the feature rolls around, but this year he had double duty with a horse running.

It turns out all the nervousness was well worth it as Dale K. Thiel’s Water Hunter (Michael Traurig) roared into the stretch a good 7 lengths ahead in the $25,000 Sandhills Cup allowance hurdle.
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On race day at the Stoneybook Steeplechase, April 7, race director Toby Edwards is supposed to be calm, cool and collected by the time the feature rolls around, but this year he had double duty with a horse running.

It turns out all the nervousness was well worth it as Dale K. Thiel’s Water Hunter (Michael Traurig) roared into the stretch a good 7 lengths ahead in the $25,000 Sandhills Cup allowance hurdle.

Edwards, a former jockey, has always liked this horse. Still, he realized he was up against some pretty good competition at Stoneybrook with 2006 Far Hills (N.J.) 3-year-old winner, Debra Kachel’s Jimmie Echo (Robert Massey) and Brigadoon Stable’s Diego Cao (Matt McCarron).

But a slipped saddle ended McCarron’s race midway through, and Jubilee Stables’ Dig This Hoss (Adam Helders), next to challenge the 10-year-old grandson of Storm Bird, did not have nearly enough fuel to catch him by the wire. Jimmie Echo placed third, with Jimmie W. Lockhart’s Across The Sky (Robert Walsh) in fourth.

Edwards did not really plan to run in the feature, but it worked out that way after the horse ran so well to finish third at Camden (S.C.) the week before.

“I wanted a pretty quiet day, being the race director and all,” Edwards said. “I also didn’t think he was going to beat Doug Fout’s horse [Diego Cao], but that slipped saddle turned out to be pretty lucky for us. I just told Michael not to hit the front too early. [Water Hunter] really won pretty convincingly. This definitely is answering some questions.”

This is Edwards’ second time in the director’s chair, which he shares with co-director Phoebe Robertson, and this is the seventh year the meet has been held on the right-hand course at the Carolina Horse Park in Raeford, N.C.

Edwards is all about running his horses locally. “I really support the southern meets,” Edwards said. “I don’t need to be hammering heads with the big trainers up north. This suits me just fine.”

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McCarron said the saddle slip had almost happened before. “He must be conducive to it,” McCarron said. “At Aiken [S.C.] he was real keen, and it started to slip up there. On Saturday, he was more settled, but after two fences it slipped again. I jumped one more hoping it would slip back, but it was long gone, and I had to pull up.”

Ups And Downs

McCarron had much better luck in the $15,000 maiden hurdle with EMO Stable’s Socca Beat, also for trainer Fout.

“That was a big surprise,” McCarron said. “Basically he was a maiden claimer, and Doug said have a good go and see what happens.”

McCarron had a disappointing flat ride with the horse at Little Everglades (Fla.) in early March and then over hurdles at the Farmington/Keswick Point-To-Point (Va.) on March 25.

“He really gave each fence a lot of thought [at Farmington/Keswick],” McCarron said. “It wasn’t very smooth, but he must have learned a lot since then, because he really stepped up at Stoneybrook.”

McCarron said his biggest competition was William Pape’s Dirge (Danielle Hodsdon), but the big jumper unseated her early on.

“After losing Dani at the fifth fence we moved up toward the front,” McCarron said. “He really took me along and never missed a fence. I think Jody [Petty’s] horse [Bold Turn] did miss the last, and it is such a short run from the last to the wire that that little bit of an edge made all the difference for us.”

McCarron also rode Kinross Farm’s Outer Reef in the $10,000 maiden claiming hurdle, but a costly mistake at the last fence kept him out of the winner’s circle a second time.

“Everything was going pretty well until the last fence,” McCarron said. ”I was jumping with Russia (Carl Rafter), and when his horse went, my horse thought it was time to go too. We sort of belly flopped on the fence and then hit the other side with his front legs out, and it took all the propulsion away.”

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Trainer Ricky Hendriks had his eye on Outer Reef and claimed him from Kinross Farm.

Hendriks won the $10,000 maiden hurdle by more than 22 lengths with another of Thiel’s horses, This Is Houston (Robert Massey). Massey, who does not ride many steeplechase horses anymore, flew in from the Keeneland (Ky.) to help the Pennsylvania trainer for the day.

“Robert was supposed to just sort of tuck him in behind out of trouble, but there was no real pace in the race,” Hendriks said. “He’s a nice horse. I bought him from [flat trainer] Graham Motion.”

Bigger And Better

After winning at Stoney-brook on Saturday, Hendriks scored another victory at the Marlborough Hunt Races (Md.) in the novice timber with Irvin S. Naylor’s NJ Devil.

It was a long weekend for NJ Devil. The horse first started his weekend at Elkridge (Md.) in the second division of the novice timber. But he didn’t like the clockwise course and had to be pulled up about a mile into the race. Hendriks ran him back at Marlborough the very next day with Paddy Young up. The chestnut ate up the counterclockwise oval and led the field, winning by 12 lengths over Straight Path (Petty).

Hendriks has wanted NJ Devil in his barn for Naylor for a long time. “Frank Chapot is my godfather,” Hendriks said. “He had given this horse a really good recommendation, but it had taken me two years to buy him from the owner.”

Hendriks added: “I love this horse. I hunted him all winter, and he would jump over anything. It’s time now for bigger and better things with him.”

Petty finished up the day at Stoneybrook with a ride for Ricky’s wife Sanna Hendriks on Preemptive Strike. The flashy chestnut won by 10 lengths on the flat over EMO Stables’ Racey Dreamer (McCarron).

Back from an injury, Preemptive Strike came into the race with more than $300,000 to his name and is headed toward some of the bigger stakes races this spring.

Sarah L. Greenhalgh

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