Steeplechasing: Lightly Raced Dawn Wall Closes Spring Season With A Win

A youngster has a rail-side seat for the feature race as the field goes by at the Fair Hill Races on May 26, 2018. Credits: Alex Orr, Jr.
Corstorphine (yellow blinkers in the center) would go on to break his maiden in the Union Hospital Medical Staff race over jumps, winning by a head over Encrypt at Fair Hills on May 26, 2018. Credits: Alex Orr, Jr.
Lady Yeats (right) leads the Iris Coggins Memorial at the Fair Hills Races on May 26, 2018 but it was Dawn Hall who would come from far back to win by a half length. Credits: Alex Orr, Jr.

FAIR HILL, Md. — Steeplechase Racing's spring semester is over. But, just when it seemed all the kids in the class had found their places on the rankings, along came Dawn Wall to earn an A+ in the final exam for fillies and mares.

Racing for The Field Stable, formerly of Bedminster, N.J. and now calling Palm Beach, Fla. home, and the Voss Family of Monkton, Md., the five-year-old home-bred mare defeated ten rivals to win the $50,000 Iris Coggins Memorial filly and mare stake on Saturday in the final contest for the gals until the fall season starts in September. (The New York Racing Association has dropped the two filly and mare stakes that had been on the Saratoga Summer calendar for many seasons.)

If some of those connected with the Coggins Memorial have their way, some special racing for the females may be in the offing.

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The Field Stable, which is being carried on by Laddie Merck since the death of his mother, Betty, scored big when their Irish-bred Sarah Joyce won the $50,000 Margaret Currey Henley at the Iroquois Races three weeks ago. Sara Joyce and Dawn Wall, as are all The Fields' horses, are trained by Elizabeth Voss, who succeeded her Hall of Fame father, Tom, as the trainer of The Fields' stock.

After Sara Joyce was placed on the 'vacation list,' Elizabeth Voss looked over her available fillies and mares to run in the Coggins and came up with Dawn Wall, a filly owned by The Fields and bred by her mother, Mimi.

Although Dawn Wall had raced only four times in 3-1/2 years, her breeding recommends her as a potential runner over jumps. She is by the stallion Not for Love from the Sky Classic mare Guelph. 'Chasing fans will remember her as the National Steeplechase Association's female and novice champion in 2005 and female champion again three years later.

Despite a 15-length loss in a maiden special three weeks earlier, Merck said Elizabeth Voss was confident when she entered Dawn Wall at Fair Hill. He reported, “Elizabeth said 'She's training very well.'”

As the race unfolded, it appeared any one of the 11 starters could end up the winner. In order, Lady Yeats, Pram, Bullet Star, and Willow U all lead the race of 2-1/4 miles over 14 national fences.

Willow U and jockey Shane Crimin jumped the last fence with the lead. Leading rider Jack Doyle asked Dawn Wall for more and got it in the final yards. The photo finish camera showed her a half length winner over Willow U with a fast closing For Goodness Sake getting third.

Dawn Wall, who is named for a Yosemite National Park mountain climbing challenge, was timed in 4:25.20 for her win over a Cecil County turf course rated 'good.'

The Iris Coggins Memorial is named for a long-time Fair Hill Races volunteer who had a passion for filly and mare racing. Prior to her passing, she charged friends and relatives with the task of 'keeping the fillies and mares in steeplechasing.'

Dr. Peter Coggins, the trophy presenter, and Laddie Merck engaged in a cordial discussion following the post race television interviews and mutually agreed that revival of the Triple Crown for filly and mare racing over the jumps would be a good way to keep the females closer to the spotlight.

Noting the Iroquois meeting has the Margaret Currey Henley in place, Fair Hill has the Coggins on its fixture card and the Far Hills meeting in the fall has the Peapack on its roster, Merck and Dr. Coggins agreed they will be contacting the race committee chairmen to promote the idea for the 2019 steeplechasing year.

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