The Fair Hill Races, the only National Steeplechase Association race meet with pari-mutuel wagering, brings out the horses and the fans for its annual Memorial Day meet Monday. Nine races, six over jumps and three on the flat, are on the program -- as are the daily double, exactas, trifectas, superfectas and win/place/show wagering. Attendance usually reaches 15,000, though there won't be many high-rollers in the bleacher seats and picnic spots. Total handle reaches about $200,000, though the day has never been about betting. Fair Hill raises money for Union Hospital in Elkton, Md. with a large portion of the wagering takeout going to the Fair Hill Natural Resources Management Area.Post time at Fair Hill, located in northeastern Maryland (just outside Newark, Del. and Elkton, Md.), is 1 p.m. Gates open at 10 a.m.
Headlining the day is the $30,000 Valentine Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares. Named in memory of longtime racing enthusiasts Miles and Joy Valentine, whose silks featured pink and red hearts, the race attracted seven entries as part of the NSA's new filly/mare program. Instituted last year, the restricted races have meant more runners and more alternatives for horsemen.Maryland-based horseman Jeremy Gillam owns and trains Valentine favorite Almost There, who comes out of a $30,000 stakes win at Nashville May 8. The 8-year-old daughter of Cure The Blues is 2-for-4 in hurdle races restricted to fillies and mares and should thrive over the Fair Hill course which puts a premium on jumping. Xavier Aizpuru, on board for the Nashville win, gets the return call.Facing the favorite are Footlights and Classic Gale, who were second and third at Nashville.