|Mr. Hot Stuff breaks his maiden over the hurdles at the Fair Hill Races.|
He won more than $195,000 in his career and made starts in the Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes, but Saturday Mr. Hot Stuff was trying to break his maiden, again - this time as a steeplechaser.
The handsome dark bay or brown horse is at the starting point for a new and promising career. The smartly bred son of Tiznow was a $200,000 Keeneland yearling in 2007 and is a full brother to Colonel John.
After scoring a 95 Beyer while breaking his maiden as a flat racer, Mr. Hot Stuff was never able to live up to his potential. Eventually he was retired last year, having only won that one maiden race at Santa Anita in the Spring of 2009.
Originally, Mr. Hot Stuff was owned by Arthur Arundel, a man long connected with the steeplechase industry. In 2010, Mr. Arundel retired the colt and sent him to trainer Jack Fisher with the hope he would continue a long history of excellence in ‘chasing.
|Mr. Hot Stuff in the Belmont post parade|
It appeared those hopes would take a detour on February 8th of this year when Arthur W. “Nick” Arundel passed away at 83. Three Arundel horses were dispersed at a sale at Jack Fisher’s barn in April in Butler, Maryland.
Another perennial steeplechase owner stepped forward at the sale and shelled out $70,000 for a thoroughbred who hadn’t won a race since April 2009 and had never won a jump race. New owner Gill Johnston left Mr. Hot Stuff in Jack Fisher’s care and his steeplechase career commenced.
On a card filled with tons of “off-the-track” thoroughbreds, Mr. Hot Stuff broke his maiden in a 2 ¼-mile hurdle contest.
Steeplechasing is one of many “next-careers” for thoroughbred racers. Just perusing the past performances for Saturday’s program at the Fair Hill Races one found several horses with six-digit earnings and 52 with prior flat racing experiencing.
|Staying On wires the field in a 1 1/4-mile training flat race with rider Jody Petty aboard.|
Horses like Saco River, Sharps Island and Staying On were on the racecard. In many cases, their career earnings of more than $200,000 each dwarfed the entire earnings for the rest of the field.
|Lining up for the Valentine Memorial at the Fair Hill Races|
For those in attendance who took the time to consider the past performances, those big-money earners paid off at the betting windows. Fair Hill is only steeplechase meet where pari-mutuel wagering is offered. Mr. Hot Stuff, Staying On and Sharps Island all won their races.
Events like the Fair Hill Races, or the Virginia Gold Cup, Willowdale Hunt or any of the many National Steeplechase Association sanctioned races are somewhat of a well-kept secret. Racegoers get to see fantastic athletes, the riders and the horses, partake in a sport with a history that dates back to the 18th century. Most attendees dress for the occasion, bring the party with them, tailgate all day long, enjoy dog races, stick pony races, bar-b-ques and whatever else they can add to the festivities. It is a day outside with friends. It is a social gathering to celebrate horses and horsemanship that also benefits the communities where the races are run. To find out more about steeplechasing, its history, its participants and dates and locations for future events please visit the National Steeplechase Association (NSA) website at the following web address. http://www.nationalsteeplechase.com/
MORE SCENES FROM THE FAIR HILL RACES
|...and one more look at Mr. Hot Stuff...|