Stop the madness! No, I’m not talking about the looming “Fiscal Cliff”; I’m talking about the pending Horse of the Year vote, the “Eclipse Cliff” if you will. Turf writers too numerous to mention seem to be following each other like lemmings off the Eclipse Cliff by casting their Horse of the Year Vote for Wise Dan instead of the logical selection: Little Mike. Rather than evaluating the record of each horse in a rational manner, the majority of turf writers that have revealed their Horse of the Year vote justify their selection of Wise Dan with flimsy, subjective and often illogical arguments instead of basing their decision on cold, hard facts.
Let’s take an objective look at the facts:
On Breeders’ Cup day, Little Mike won a race worth $2,727,000 (the Breeders’ Cup Turf), while Wise Dan won a race worth $1,818,000 (the Breeders’ Cup Mile). Logic would dictate that the race with the significantly larger purse is more important and prestigious than the race with the smaller purse.
Advantage: Little Mike.
Little Mike won Grade 1 races at distances of 9 furlongs, 10 furlongs and 12 furlongs. All of the Grade 1 races won by Wise Dan were contested at 8 furlongs. There is strong precedence established long ago that in order to win the Horse of the Year award, you have to win Grade 1 races run at classic distances. Little Mike satisfies that criteria as he won two Grade 1 races run at classic distances; Wise Dan never even attempted to win a Grade 1 race run at a classic distance.
Huge Advantage: Little Mike.
Little Mike earned $2,668,742 in 2012, while Wise Dan earned $46,705 less than Little Mike.
Advantage: Little Mike.
Steven Crist points out that one of Wise Dan’s Grade 1 victories took place in Canada, while all three of Little Mike’s wins occurred on American soil. “Wise Dan’s two Grade 1 victories are historically low for an American Horse of the Year,” writes Mr. Crist, the dean of all turf writers and the heir apparent to Joe Hirsch, Red Smith & Charles Hatton.
Advantage: Little Mike.
Now let’s objectively evaluate the quality of the Grade 1 races won by each of the contenders using cold, hard facts: None of the Grade 1 races won by Wise Dan have ever previously appeared on the resume of a Horse of the Year winner. Little Mike won the Arlington Million, a race that John Henry won in 1981 and 1984 on his way to earning Horse of the Year honors in each of those years. Little Mike also won the the Breeders’ Cup Turf, a race won by Kotashaan (Fr) en route to being named Horse of the Year in 1993. In addition, the Breeders’ Cup Turf is comparable in many respects to an international turf race they used to run at Laurel – the D.C. International – a race that helped propel All Along (1983), Fort Marcy (1970) and Kelso (1964) to Horse of the Year awards.
Huge Advantage: Little Mike.
As the cold, hard facts recited above show, by almost any objective standard, Little Mike is a better, more versatile horse than Wise Dan.
So what is the rationale put forth by some of our best turf writer’s that have weighed in on the Horse of the Year subject? Why are they voting for Wise Dan instead of Little Mike?
The argument made by most of them is that Wise Dan is more worthy of the Horse of the Year title because he competed on dirt, turf, and synthetic surfaces, while Little Mike raced exclusively on turf. This line of reasoning basically boils down to “both horses won three Grade 1 races on the turf, but the ability to also win a Grade 3 race run on a synthetic surface and to finish second in a Grade 1 dirt race trumps the ability to win races run at the classic distances of 10 furlongs and 12 furlongs”. Personally, I could not disagree more with that rationale. I think winning Grade 1 races at multiple distances, and the ability to win Grade 1 races run at classic distances, trumps the ability to win a Grade 3 race on synthetics combined with a second place finish in a Grade 1 dirt race. In my book, racing the entire season on turf is not a flaw that discredits a horse’s stature, but the inability to win at a classic distance is a significant hole in a horse’s resume, making that horse unworthy of the Horse of the Year title.
A number of turf writers have stated that they plan to vote for Little Mike as champion turf horse, but then vote for Wise Dan as Horse of the Year. It seems to me that these writers are either (1) taking logically inconsistent positions, or (2) placing disproportionate emphasis on a Grade 3 victory on synthetics and a second place finish in a Grade 1 dirt race.
In contrast to the confluence of turf writers following each other over the Eclipse Cliff, there are two turf writers that have an appreciation for the history of thoroughbred racing as well as a firm grip on the criteria that has traditionally be used to select the Horse of the Year. The first is Ed DeRosa, who comes across as the voice of reason when he writes:
“….. everyone seems content to concede that Wise Dan is the best horse in the United States, which I don’t understand at all given that going a mile on the turf has never been the division to prove that in this country.”
The second is multiple Eclipse award winning author Paul Moran. Mr. Moran writes that:
“Wise Dan’s success was limited to mile races on grass – a specialty for which there is no Eclipse category — and in any other year Little Mike, winner of three Grade 1 races on grass, including the two most prestigious international races run in the United States, would be the certain turf-course champion.”
The esteemed turf writer goes on to conclude that:
“It appears that the fortune of one of these very talented and deserving horses will come at the expense of the other.
Wise Dan: Woodbine Mile, Shadwell Turf Mile, Breeders’ Cup Mile.
Little Mike: Woodford Reserve Turf Classic, Arlington Million, Breeders’ Cup Turf.
Your call, but Little Mike’s portfolio is stronger than Wise Dan’s.”
If one steps back and objectively compares the three Grade 1 races won by Little Mike to the three Grade 1 races won by Wise Dan, the vote for Horse of the Year is obvious: Little Mike won the two most important international turf races run in the United States, the Breeders’ Cup Turf and the Arlington Million, and would be a most deserving Horse of the Year winner.
There is ample historical precedence for horses that win multiple Grade 1 races at 9 furlongs or more to be selected Horse of the Year; there is no historical precedence whatsoever for horses whose Grade 1 victories all came at a mile to be voted Horse of the Year. Those who cast their vote for Wise Dan are either unaware of thoroughbred racing’s rich and glorious history, or they are intent upon on setting new precedence despite the existence of a perponderance of facts that lead to only one conclusion: Little Mike should be 2012′s Horse of the Year.
Camden, South Carolina – November 17th, 2012
Demonstrative thrust himself into the year-end Eclipse Award picture with an impressive, last-to-first victory in the $100,000 Grade I Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup, defeating Divine Fortune by a length, with Alajmal finishing third. Demonstrative completed the 2 3/4 miles over the Springdale Race Course in 5:15.80.
Demonstrative and Matt McCarron won the Grade I Colonial Cup
Owned by Jacqueline Ohrstrom and ridden by Matt McCarron, Demonstrative was still at the back of the pack as an all-star field turned for home in the 2 3/4-mile Colonial Cup at the Springdale Course in Camden, S.C. But the five-year-old Elusive Quality gelding roared over the final two National Fences and ran down Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune, who had inherited the lead from 2010 winner Slip Away.
As the field approached the homestretch, trainer Richard Valentine had little hope that Demonstrative would make much of a showing. “I thought he was beat,” he said. “His jumping was good, but I didn’t think he’d get there.”
Indeed, speed had been holding on the Springdale course, and Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Slip Away had set a sensible pace under Paddy Young as Divine Fortune and Irv Naylor’s Decoy Daddy tracked his pace. Slip Away tired early in the lane, and Divine Fortune took over under Darren Nagle.
Devine Fortune and jockey Darren Nagle finished second in both of the last two Grade I races of the year: the Grand National and the Colonial Cup.
Just to make things interesting, Demonstrative and McCarron had to maneuver around History Boy, who was pulled up before the next to last fence. Demonstrative soon found his best stride on the outside, closed ground powerfully after the last fence, and took control in the final 50 yards.
Divine Fortune ran on well, but Demonstrative’s momentum carried him to his third victory of the year, two of them in Grade I races. After graduating from the novice ranks with a victory in the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes at Saratoga Race Course, Demonstrative picked up his first Grade I score with a one-length win in the Grade I New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap
Demonstrative was scratched from the Grade I Lonesome Glory Stakes at Belmont Park after his regular jockey, Robbie Walsh, was injured in the prior race. The Lonesome Glory was won by Pierrot Lunaire, who subsequently won the Grade I Grand National at Far Hills, New Jersey, on October 20th. Demonstrative finished fourth in that race, but Valentine was not disappointed.
“He’s not a horse that likes soft ground,” the Virginia-based trainer said. Between the Grand National and the Colonial Cup, Valentine gave Demonstrative a strong workout to set him up for the Colonial Cup’s testing 2 3/4 miles. “You have to keep him going,” Valentine said.
Demonstrative and jockey Matt McCarron, who picked up the mount when regual rider Robbie Walsh was injured at Belmont Park in September.
Demonstrative proved in the Colonial Cup stretch that he would be in the hunt for this year’s Eclipse Award. Valentine joked that he told McCarron before the race: “If you’re going to win, do it impressively so we’ll get Eclipse Award votes.” His victory certainly was impressive.
Click here for the result chart of the 2012 Colonial Cup
In addition to the Colonial Cup, there were five other races contested over the Springdale Race Course:
The NSA’s 3-year-old champion was decided in the $25,000 Raymond G. Woolfe Memorial which was won by Kinross Farm’s More Tea Vicar, with Bernie Dalton aboard for trainer Neil Morris.
Click here for the result chart of the Raymond G. Woolfe Memorial.
The day opened with Mark Beecher riding Rock Ford Stables’ Sporty to victory in the $25,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle. The 5-year-old Smarty Jones gelding was trained by Julie Gomena.
Click here for a result chart of the 1st race
The only timber race on the card, the 3 1/2-mile Springdale Open, was won in flag-to-wire fashion by Nondo. Owned by Sportsmans Halland trained by Alicia Murphy, the 7-year-old gelding was ridden by Jeff Murphy.
Click here for the result chart of the Springdale Open Timber Race
The final steeplechase race of the season, the $20,000 Hobkirk Hill, was won going away by Sunshine Numbers. The 10-year-old gelding, who won the 2011 Carolina Cup by more than 27 lengths, led by as many as 22 lengths before trainer/rider Arch Kingsley let him coast to a 10-length victory in just his second start over fences since winning the Carolina Cup.
Click here for the result chart of the Hobkirk Hill
The afternoon of racing came to an end with the 1 1/2-mile amateur training flat race which was won by William L. Pape’s Grand Tier with Keri Brion in the saddle for Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard.
The Colonial Cup closed the books on the 2012 NSA season, and year-end honors went to the following individuals and horses:
Jockey: With fellow Irishman Paddy Young on the sidelines for the first half of the season, Ross Geraghty garnered 17 wins, three more than Darren Nagle, to become the champion United States steeplechase jockey for the first time in his career.
Trainer: Jack Fisher notched 16 victories in 2012 to dethroned Tom Voss and Jonathan Sheppard. Sheppard and Richard Valentine tied for second place with 11 wins each.
Owner: Irv Naylor was the sport’s leading owner for the second year in-a-row racking up more than $440,000 in earnings from 13 victories.
Timber horse: Incomplete was undefeated in three starts including a victory in the Virginia Gold Cup for Bob Kinsley and trainer Ann Stewart.
Novice: Alajmal, a 4-year-old son of First Samurai bred by Shadwell Farm, topped all novices with $82,000 in earnings for trainer Janet Elliot and owner Greg Hawkins.
Three-year-old: More Tea Vicar captured the sophomore races at Far Hills and Camden to earn divisional honors for Kinross Farm and conditioner Neil Morris.
Camden, South Carolina – November 14th, 2012
Many of America’s leading steeplechase horses will face the starter in the 43rd running of the $100,000 Grade I Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup, the feature race of the Colonial Cup meet at the Springdale Course in Camden, South Carolina, on Saturday, November 17th. First post time is 12:30 p.m. for the six-race program.
Also on the card is the $25,000 Raymond G. Woolfe Memorial, which very likely will decide the year’s three-year-old steeplechase champion.
The Colonial Cup, a 2 3/4-mile race over National Fences, is the last major contest on the 2012 National Steeplechase Association calendar and often plays a role in deciding the year’s Eclipse Award winner.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Slip Away grabbed year-end honors with his Colonial Cup victory in 2010, and he will be bidding for a second win in the prestigious race. Trained by Tom Voss, Slip Away has missed large portions of the last two seasons and most recently finished fourth in the Noel Laing Handicap in Virginia on Nov. 3. Paddy Young, the reigning champion jockey, will ride.
Slip Away will face an uphill battle against a talented field to secure his second Colonial Cup win. One of his leading challengers will be Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative, who locked up the 2010 three-year-old title with his victory in the Raymond Woolfe.
Demonstrative and Robbie Walsh return to the winner’s circle after capturing the Grade I New York Turf Writers’ Cup Handicap.
This year, Demonstrative has two major victories at Saratoga Race Course: the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes and the $150,000 Grade I New York Turf Writers’ Cup Handicap. He finished fourth in his most recent start, the $250,000 Grade I Grand National at Far Hills, NJ on Oct. 20. Matt McCarron will ride for trainer Richard Valentine.
Returning to Springdale is 2010 Carolina Cup victor Spy in the Sky, who regained top form over the summer. Owned by Randleston Farm and trained by Jimmy Day, Spy in the Sky won Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on Aug. 2 and then finished second by a nose in the $!50,000 Lonesome Glory Stakes (Gr. 1) at Belmont Park on Sept. 27. Danielle Hodsdon has the mount.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard will saddle two Colonial Cup contenders, Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune and Timber Bay Farm’s History Boy. Divine Fortune, a major stakes winner in 2010 and 2011, ran a strong second in the Grand National after finishing sixth in the Lonesome Glory. Darren Nagle will ride.
History Boy won Saratoga’s $75,000 Michael G. Walsh Novice before finishing fifth in the Lonesome Glory. He was pulled up in the Grand National on soft ground. Brian Crowley will be in the saddle.
The sport’s other active Racing Hall of Fame trainer, Janet Elliot, will saddle Gregory D. Hawkins’ Alajmal and Gene Weymouth’s Wild for Gold. Alajmal, a top newcomer to steeplechase racing, won a Saratoga optional allowance and was second in Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial, a novice stakes, on Sept. 27. Wild for Gold, winner of a Parx Racing optional allowance in June, fell in the Entenmann. Richard Boucher picks up the mount on Alajmal, and Roddy Mackenzie rides Wild for Gold.
Hickory Tree Stable’s Gustavian enters the Colonial Cup after making his mark in the novice ranks. He won the Entenmann and subsequently finished second in the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills. Camden resident Bernie Dalton will ride for trainer Leslie Young.
Leading owner Irvin S. Naylor entered a strong contingent headed by multiple stakes winner Decoy Daddy, who finished second in his bid for a third straight victory in the Noel Laing. The Irish-bred will be ridden by Jeff Murphy.
The rest of Naylor’s starters are new to American steeplechasing. Charminster ran second in the New York Turf Writers before finishing third in the Lonesome Glory and fifth in the Grand National. Ross Geraghty, currently leading the jockey standings, will ride for trainer Brianne Slater, who won last year’s Colonial Cup with Naylor’s Tax Ruling.
Also racing in Naylor’s silks in the Colonial Cup are Jack Cool and You’re the Top. Making their U.S. debuts in the Grand National, You’re the Top finished sixth and Jack Cool was pulled up. James Slater will ride You’re the Top, and Xavier Aizpuru has the mount on Jack Cool. Aizpuru was the winning jockey aboard Tax Ruling in last year’s Colonial Cup.
Noticeably absent from the Colonial Cup entries is Pierrot Lunaire, who won a pair of Grade I’s in his last two starts: the Lonesome Glory and the Grand National.
“He had two tough races, and we just wanted to stop with him,” said Bruce Miller, father of listed trainer Blythe Miller. “He came out of Far Hills well and is feeling well. We went back and forth for a while, but he hasn’t got much more to prove. We didn’t want to get greedy.”
Far Hills, NJ – October 20th, 2012
Pierrot Lunaire charged through the stretch and overtook pacesetter Divine Fortune to win the $250,000 Grade I Grand National by three-quarters of a length at the 92nd edition of the Far Hills Races. The victory made Perrot Lunaire the early favorite to win this year’s steeplechase Eclipse award, as he is the only horse to win two Grade I races so far this year. The Colonial Cup, which will be contested on November 17th in Camden, South Carolina, is the final Grade I steeplechase race this year.
Pierrot Lunaire caught Divine Fortune in deep stretch to win the Grade I Grand National. Alix Michel photo.
Owned by Mrs. Calvin Houghland, the Grand National was Pierrot Lunaire’s second straight Grade 1 victory. He had won his previous start, the $150,000 Lonesome Glory Stakes at Belmont Park, by a nose on September 27th. Bernie Dalton rode the eight-year-old gelding in both the Grand National and the Lonesome Glory.
“This horse spent three years in the woods,” Dalton said after the race, referring to the fact that Pierrot Lunaire had lost nine consecutive races over parts of three seasons, including two dull efforts at Far Hills in 2009 and 2011. “But Mr. Miller and his daughter found the key recently, and they’ve unlocked the mystery.”
Pierrot Lunaire landing over the last fence in the Grade I Grand National.
When Pierrot Lunaire won the Lonesome Glory he was dismissed at when he 48-1, the longest price on the board. “The Belmont race was a surprise, but this one wasn’t,” said Bruce Miller, the veteran horseman who saddled Pierrot Lunaire for his daughter, trainer Blythe Miller Davies. The elder Miller also saddled Pierrot Lunaire for the Lonesome Glory, a race named for the Racing Hall of Fame member whom he trained and his daughter rode.
On a glorious autumn afternoon in central New Jersey, Darren Nagle sent Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune to the lead immediately, and the multiple graded-stakes winner jumped masterfully as he loped over the soft turf that had absorbed two inches of rain a day earlier.
F. Bruce Miler congratulates Bernie Dalton after he piloted Pierrot Lunaire to victory in the Grade I Grand National.
Dalton kept Pierrot Lunaire toward the back of the field with Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative, the winner of Saratoga’s Grade I New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap on August 23rd. Both moved toward a free-wheeling Divine Fortune on the final turn, but Nagle appeared to have the front-runner in a strong position for the race to the finish line.
Dalton made a deft move to break free of traffic approaching the last fence, jumped into contention, and took up the chase. Divine Fortune continued to run on well, but Pierrot Lunaire’s momentum carried him to a thrilling victory. “That was a tremendous ride,” Miller said.
Divine Fortune leads the field over the 9th fence of the Grand National.
Riverdee Stable’s Royal Bonsai, who had been cross-entered in the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle for novices, ran an impressive race to take third, 8 3/4 lengths farther back. Demonstrative and jockey Matt McCarron were trapped behind tiring horses approaching the final fence and finished fourth.
Pierrot Lunaire earned $150,000 from the Grand National purse and raised his 2012 earnings to $253,000. He ran the Grand National’s 2 5/8 miles over National Fences in 5:40.
Divine Fortune leads the field over the 4th fence of the Grand National.
Click here for a video replay of the 2012 Grade I Grand National
Click here for the result chart of the 2012 Grade I Grand National
Foxbrook Champion Hurdle
Anne Pape’s Fog Island and jockey Matt McCarron fell in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Stakes on September 27, but they were flawless in the $75,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle as they eased to the lead over the final fence and held off a challenge by Gustavian to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Forgotten Man collected his third straight third-place finish in the race for novices, or horses in their first seasons of racing over fences.
Randleston Farm’s Duc de Savoie set the early pace under a ground-saving ride by Danielle Hodsdon, with Forgotten Man and Jeff Murphy stalking their pace in the middle of the course. Duc de Savoie began to tire on the final turn, and Fog Island and Gustavian took aim on Forgotten Man going to the final fence.
Fog Island leads second place finisher Gustavian at the last fence of the Foxbrook Novice Hurdle Stakes.
Fog Island grabbed the lead, and Hickory Tree Stables’ Gustavian was unable to cut into the margin. Trained by Richard Valentine, Fog Island collected his first victory of the year while running the Foxbrook’s 2 1/2 miles in 5:19 on soft turf. Anne Pape, wife of longtime leading owner William Pape, acquired Fog Island privately over the winter.
Click here for the result chart of the 2012 Foxbrook Novice Hurdle Stakes
Click here for a video replay of the 2012 Foxbrook Novice Hurdle Stakes
Clarke Ohrstrom’s Kisser N Run marked herself as a filly-and-mare championship contender when she ran down pacesetter Cordillera in the Far Hills stretch to win the $75,000 Peapack Stakes by 3 3/4 lengths. Lillehammer finished third, and Quiet Flaine was fourth in a field of six.
Ridden by Paddy Young, Kisser N Run completed the Peapack’s 2 1/8 miles in 4:22.60 on soft turf. The Peapack was the second straight victory in as many starts over hurdles for the four-year-old Pleasant Tap filly, who is trained in Virginia by Richard Valentine.
Irvin S. Naylor’s Cordillera went to the lead at the start and jumped well for the first circuits of the course under Ross Geraghty. Riverdee Stable’s Lillehammer shadowed the pacesetter, who put distance between herself and the rest of the field at each fence.
Young kept Kisser N Run toward the back of the field through the early going and moved into contention on the final turn as Lillehammer began to fade. Kisser N Run challenged at the final fence and drew clear of Cordillera in the final sixteenth-mile.
A two-time winner in maiden claiming races on the flat at Colonial Downs in the spring and summer, Kisser N Run won her debut over fences at the Foxfield Fall meet in Charlottesville, Virginia, on September 30.
Click here for the result chart of the 2012 Peapack Filly & Mare Hurdle Stakes
Click here for a video replay of the 2012 Peapack Filly & Mare Hurdle Stakes
New Jersey Hunt Cup
Straight to It maintained a perfect record over timber fences when he charged to a 3 1/2-length victory in the $50,000 New Jersey Hunt Cup. Moonsox finished second, 16 1/4 lengths ahead of Rainbows for Luck. Straight to It, owned by Sheila Williams and Andre Brewster, ran the New Jersey Hunt Cup’s 3 1/4 miles in 8:12 on soft turf.
Triple Dip set a slow early pace but tired in the late going as Jack Fisher-trained Straight to It closed ground on the final circuit and drew away under Darren Nagle.
Click here for the result chart of the 2012 New Jersey Hunt Cup
Click here for a video replay of the 2012 New Jersey Hunt Cup
The pattern of pacesetters being caught late continued through the afternoon’s final hurdle race, the $25,000 Gladstone Stakes for three-year-olds. Kinross Farm’s More Tea Vicar opened a large lead in the 2 1/8-mile race, but Irvin S. Naylor’s Top Man Michael made a big move late to win by two lengths. Ross Geraghty rode the winner for trainer Brianne Slater.
Irish import Top Man Michael leads More Tea Vicar nearing the finish of the Gladstone. It was the second victory of the day for jockey Ross Geraghty.
Making his first U.S. start after two hurdle starts in Ireland, Top Man Michael ran the Gladstone distance in 4:36.40. The Fields Stable’s Kingdom, a half brother to 2011 winner Wanganui, finished third, 1 1/2 lengths farther back.
Click here for the result chart of the 2012 Gladstone 3-year-old Hurdle Stakes
Click here for a video replay of the 2012 Gladstone 3-year-old Hurdle Stakes
Harry E. Harris
Ross Geraghty picked up the mount on Gill Johnston’s Dahoud in the $25,000 Harry E. Harris maiden hurdle when Willie Dowling injured his shoulder in the Peapack, and the veteran Irish jockey picked up the victory when the New Zealand-bred rolled past early pacesetter Gawaarib for an eight-length victory. Manacor finished third. Trained by Jack Fisher, Dahoud ran the 2 1/8-mile distance in 4:28.20.
New Zealand import Dahoud leads Gawaarib over the final hurdle in Harry E. Harris maiden hurdle race.
Click here for the result chart of the 2012 Harry E. Harris maiden hurdle race
Click here for a video replay of the 2012 Harry E. Harris maiden hurdle race
Demonstrative, winner of the $150,000 Grade I New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap at Saratoga in his last start, will try to assert his dominance as he faces a field of 10 in the $250,000 Grade I Grand National at the Far Hills Races on Saturday, October 20th. Post time for the first race is 1:00 p.m. for the six-race program, which offers five stakes races and purses totaling $500,000.
As is often the case, this year’s Grand National should play a significant role in determining the steeplechase Eclipse award honors. There have been four Grade I steeplechase races contested so far this year, and a different horse has won each race: Arcadius (Iroquois), Spy In The Sky (Smithwick), Demonstrative (NY Turf Writers’ Cup) and Pierrot Lunaire (Lonesome Glory).
Demonstrative defeating Charminister at the finish of the Grade I New York Turf Writers’ Cup Handicap at Saratoga.
Owned by Jacqueline Ohrstrom and trained by Richard Valentine, Demonstrative was entered to run in the Grade I Lonesome Glory Stakes at Belmont Park on September 27th but was scratched when regular jockey Robbie Walsh was hurt in the preceding race. Veteran jockey Matt McCarron takes over the mount at Far Hills as Robbie Walsh is still sidelined. The five-year-old Elusive Quality gelding is the year’s leading earner with $136,500 in purse earnings, all of which was earned at flat tracks. It remains to be seen if Demonstrative can handle the hills and the boggy footing comprised of sticky red clay at Far Hills.
The first two finishers in the Lonesome Glory, Pierrot Lunaire and Spy in the Sky, respectively, will also face the starter in the 2 5/8-mile Grand National, the year’s richest steeplechase race. Mary Ann Houghland’s Pierrot Lunaire prevailed by a nose in the Lonesome Glory at odds of 48-1, and Bernie Dalton will be in the saddle again for trainer Blythe Miller Davies. Pierrot Lunaire finished sixth in last year’s Grand National.
Pierrot Lunaire and Bernie Dalton survey the infield at Belmont Park before the start of the Grade I Lonesome Glory.
Randleston Farm’s Spy in the Sky ranks second by 2012 earnings with $108,250 in purses. He upset the Grade I A. P. Smithwick Memorial at Saratoga at odds of 25-1 on August 2nd before running a respectable third in the New York Turf Writers. Danielle Hodsdon will ride for trainer Jimmy Day.
Leading owner Irvin S. Naylor, who won last year’s Grand National with Black Jack Blues, will have three representatives in this year’s edition, headed by Charminster. The Irish import finished second in the New York Turf Writers Cup and third in the Lonesome Glory. Ross Geraghty gets a return engagement for trainer Brianne Slater.
Also from Naylor’s stable are newcomers You’re the Top, who won Norway’s champion hurdle race on September 23rd, and Jack Cool, a quality hurdler in England and Ireland last year. Willie Dowling will ride You’re the Top, and Xavier Aizpuru has the call on Jack Cool.
Spy in the Sky and Danielle Hodsdon exiting the paddock at Belmont Park before the Grade I Lonesome Glory.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard will have three entries in the Grand National, a race that he won with two Hall of Fame horses, Flatterer in 1983 and Cafe Prince in 1978. Timber Bay Stable’s History Boy comes into the Grand National from a win in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes and a fifth-place finish in the Lonesome Glory. Brian Crowley has the mount.
The other two Sheppard entrants, Divine Fortune and The Price of Love, are both owned by William L. Pape. Divine Fortune, a multiple graded stakes winner, finished sixth in the Lonesome Glory, while The Price of Love placed in a Saratoga optional allowance hurdle. Darren Nagle was named on both horses.
Trainer Tom Voss entered Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Slip Away, who finished second in the 2010 Grand National and was voted that year’s Eclipse Award as champion steeplechase horse. The 9-year-old son of former Horse of the Year Skip Away has raced lightly since his championship season and tuned up for his first official start of the year with a win in a training flat race on September 29th. Champion jockey Paddy Young has been named to ride.
2010 Steeplechase Champion Slip Away and Paddy Young in a portrait by Joan Porter Jannaman
Completing the field is Royal Bonsai, another newcomer to American jump racing. Owned by Riverdee Stable and trained by Valentine, the four-year-old won a $15,000 handicap hurdle race in England before his arrival in the U.S. He will be ridden by top English jump jockey Dougie Costello.
Foxbrook Champion Hurdle
Hickory Tree Stables’ Gustavian will attempt to lock up the year’s novice title when he starts in the $75,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle for horses in their first years of competition over fences. In his most recent start, Gustavian surged through Belmont’s stretch to win the $50,000 William Entenmann Memorial on September 27. Paddy Young will ride for his wife, trainer Leslie Young, in the 2 1/2-mile race over National Fences.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Janet Elliot will send out Gregory D. Hawkins’ Alajamal, who finished second in the Entenmann after winning a Saratoga optional allowance hurdle. Ross Geraghty will ride. The Entenmann’s third finisher, Betsy Mead’s Forgotten Man, also will face the starter.
Entering the Foxbrook from a seventh-place finish in the Lonesome Glory is Randleston Farm’s Duc de Savoie. Danielle Hodsdon will ride for trainer Jimmy Day.
Cubist, owned and trained by Jonathan Sheppard, will be seeking her second straight stakes win in the $50,000 Peapack Stakes, the kick-off race for the 92nd annual Far Hills Races in central New Jersey. The five-year-old Royal Academy mare won Saratoga’s $75,000 Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Filly and Mare Stakes in her previous start on Aug. 30. Brian Crowley will ride.
Trainer Doug Fout will saddle Magalen O. Bryant’s pairing of Quiet Flaine and Well Fashioned. Quiet Flaine won the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Margaret Currey Henley Stakes on May 12 and was pulled up in Saratoga’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps Filly and Mare Stakes on Aug. 9. Well Fashioned finished third in the two Saratoga filly and mare stakes.
New Jersey Hunt Cup
Lion’s Double made a notable entry into racing over timber fences by winning Iroquois Mason Houghland Memorial, and he is member of a highly competitive field for the $50,000 New Jersey Hunt Cup. Trained by Jack Fisher, the six-year-old owned by Woodslane Farm most recently finished fifth in Virginia Fall’s National Sporting Library Chronicle Cup on October 5. Willie Dowling has the mount.
Also coming out of the Chronicle Cup in Middleburg is Joseph W. Henderson III’s Triple Dip, who set the early pace before fading to third. Trainer Jimmy Day named Paddy Young to ride.
Trainer Edward Graham will send out Gregory Bentley’s Rainbows for Luck, winner of Shawan Downs’ $15,000 Legacy Chase timber allowance race on September 29. Jody Petty will ride.
S. Bruce Smart’s Orchestra Leader will attempt to lead the band in the $50,000 Gladstone Stakes for three-year-olds. Trained by Jimmy Day, Orchestra Leader scored a quarter-length win over More Tea Vicar in a maiden hurdle race at Virginia Fall. Kinross Farm’s More Tea Vicar also is in the Gladstone field, as is third finisher, Magalen O. Bryant’s Personal Fight. Both are trained by Neil Morris.
Making his first start over fences will be The Fields Stable’s Kingdom, a half brother to Wanganui, last year’s Gladstone winner and three-year-old champion. Paddy Young, Wanganui’s regular jockey, will ride Kingdom for trainer Tom Voss.
Edited from NSA press release
Elmont, NY – September 29, 2012: Flat Out won a 94th edition of the Grade I $1 Million Jockey Club Gold Cup defeating Stay Thirsty by a head after a thrilling stretch duel. The 6-year-old son of Flatter is owned by Preston Stables, trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Bill Mott and was ridden by Joel Rosario. Rosario, who recently moved his tack to New York from California, employed a distinctly European style as shown in the photos below. Note the contrast in styles between Rosario, on the left, and Ramon Dominguez, on the right:
Rosario (left) rocks back on Flat Out.
With Rosario deep in the saddle, Flat Out edges past Stay Thirsty in the shadow of the wire to win by a head.
Note the contrast between the upright Rosario on Flat Out and Dominguez in a low crouch on Stay Thirsty.
Flat Out and Joel Rosario in the paddock before the Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup.
The Phipps Stable’s Point of Entry won the 36th running of the Grade I $600,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic for Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey and Hall of Fame jockey Johnny Velazquez. Point of Entry strengthened his bid for Horse of the Year honors by winning his fifth race in-a-row this year, with his last three victories coming in Grade I stakes races. “I think that he should be considered for Horse of the Year,” said McGaughey the morning after the Hirsch. “We’ll see how he does in the Breeders’ Cup, but I think with his winning streak and how dominant he has been in some of his races that an Eclipse Award should be in his sight if he makes a decent effort out there.”
Point of Entry with Johnny Velazquez up and the ever present Buzz Tenney (right) in the paddock before the Grade I Joe Hirsch Turf Classic.
British invader Nahrain captured the 35th edition of the Grade I $600,000 Flower Bowl for Darley Stable, trainer Roger Varain and Hall of Fame jockey Johnny Velazquez.
Nahrain surveys the crowd in the paddock at Belmont Park before the Grade I Flower Bowl.
Hayley Turner, the first female jockey to win a race aboard a horse owned by the Queen of England, finished fourth in the Flower Bowl on Irish-bred I’m A Dreamer.
British-based female jockey Hayley Turner astride I’m A Dreamer in the paddock before the Grade I Flower Bowl.
The Lumber Guy upset the field in the 73rd running of the Grade I $400,000 Vosburgh for owner Barry Schwartz, trainer Mike Hushion and Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez, who won three Grade I races in-a-row at Belmont Park on Super Saturday.
The Lumber Guy and Johnny Velazquez were surprise winners of the Grade I Vosburgh.
Caixa Electronica came flying at the end of the Vosburgh but ran out of racetrack and had to settle for 2nd place.
Elmont, NY – September 27th, 2012
Pierrot Lunaire took the lead over the final jump and held off a furious late charge from Spy in the Sky to prevail by a nose in the Grade 1, $150,000 Lonesome Glory steeplechase. Charminster finished third in the kickoff race of American Steeplechasing’s fall championship season.
Pierrot Lunaire (right) gets his nose down on the wire to win the Grade I Lonesome Glory on a head-bob over Spy in the Sky (left).
The winner had two very strong connections to Lonesome Glory, the Racing Hall of Fame member and five-time Eclipse Award winner. Pierrot Lunaire is trained by Blythe Miller Davies, who rode Lonesome Glory for her father, trainer Bruce Miller. The elder Miller previously trained Pierrot Lunaire and was present at Belmont Park to saddle him for his daughter.
The Lonesome Glory’s fairy-tale story was all the more pronounced because eight-year-old Pierrot Lunaire was given little chance of winning the top-rated race and went off at 48-1, the longest price on the tote board. It was the first victory since taking the Grade 1 Iroquois in May, 2009 for Pierrot Lunaire, who is owned by Mrs. Calvin Houghland. Unraced in 2010, the gelded son of War Chant made three starts in 2011 and three this year prior to Thursday’s race, all in graded events. Most recently he was fifth in the Grade III Zeke Ferguson Memorial in June at Colonial Downs.
Left-to-right: History Boy, Spy in the Sky, Pierrot Lunaire, Charminister and Left Unsaid battle to the wire shortly after landing over the last fence.
“He ran well in the Zeke Ferguson over a little shorter trip,” said winning jockey Bernard Dalton. “We were handy the whole way, and he was beaten only 13 ¾ lengths against faster horses. Bruce said he was training real well, otherwise he wouldn’t bother coming up being a long shot, and he took the blinkers off. The horse just traveled and jumped. Bruce said to me, ‘I want you to hold him up today. Just pop away, pop away, and don’t come with a run until after the second-to-last [fence].’”
“I was following Paddy [Young on Left Unsaid] most of the way around. I saw him easing out going to the second to last, and he landed in front,” Dalton continued. “I brought Spy in the Sky with me when I had gone out, and my horse is a little on the leery side. He was just doing enough, sticking his head out, sticking his head out. He had a bit of gas in the tank, but he was never going to do more than he had to.”
Pierrot Lunaire returned $99.50 for a $2 win bet, and earned $90,000 for his victory in the lonesome Glory. For his career, he is 4-5-4 from 25 starts with a bankroll of $355,579.
Pierrot Lunaire (left) leads Charminister and left Unsaid at the last fence of the Grade I Lonesome Glory. Adam Coglianese photo.
“I was really nervous because he did not run that well this spring and had not run since June,” said Bruce Miller, who in the 1990’s trained Lonesome Glory, the five-time champion steeplechaser for whom the race was named. “We put a lot of work into him to get him this far and to be honest with you, I didn’t really think he would win. I thought he would run well, but I never expected him to win.”
“My daughter Blythe is the trainer and she gallops this horse over some steep hills, which was the key,” Miller continued. ”He’s been training really, really well.”
Jockey Bernie Dalton placed Pierrot Lunaire in middle of the field as Duc de Savoie, Spy in the Sky’s stable mate, set the early pace, followed by the three members of leading owner Irvin S. Naylor’s entry, Tax Ruling, The Jigsaw Man, and Charminster.
Duc de Savoie faded late on the second circuit of Belmont’s inner turf course, as did The Jigsaw Man. Charminster began his move under Carl Rafter, and moving up on the inside was The Fields Stable’s Left Unsaid, ridden by Paddy Young. They appeared to be in strong position nearing the final fence, but Pierrot Lunaire exploded out of the field and jumped the final fence in front.
Left-to-right: History Boy, Charminister, Pierrot Lunaire and Left Unsaid jockey for position after landing over the first fence in the Lonesome Glory.
Spy in the Sky made his usual late move from the back of the field under Danielle Hodsdon, moved into third position at the final fence, and quickly cut into Pierrot Lunaire’s lead. They raced head to head through the final 50 yards, with Pierrot Lunaire getting the advantage on a head bob. Charminster ran on well to take third, two lengths behind the top two, and Left Unsaid was fourth, 2 1/2 lengths farther back. Pierrot Lunaire ran the Lonesome Glory’s 2 1/2 miles in 4:37.78 on firm turf.
Timber Bay Farm’s History Boy, easy winner of Saratoga Race Course’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on August 16, went off as the Lonesome Glory’s 2-1 favorite and finished fifth under Xavier Aizpuru, substituting for Brian Crowley, who was injured in the previous race, the William Entenmann Memorial Hurdle Stakes.
Morning line favorite Demonstrative was a late scratch from the Lonesome Glory because his jockey, Robbie Walsh, was unable to ride after dislocating his left hip when Dr. Wheat, his mount in the Entenmann, fell at the 10th fence. Jockeys Kiernan Norris and Jacob Roberts were in the jocks room at Belmont Park and were ready, willing and able to ride Demonstrative, but in a curious decision, Demonstrative’s connections opted to scratch their horse rather than handing the reins to either Norris or Roberts. The decision to scratch Demonstrative is even harder to rationalize when one considers that there have been four Grade I steeplechase races this year, and four different winners: Arcadius, Spy In The Sky, Demonstrative and now Pierrot Lunaire have each scored a Grade 1 victory. Thus Demonstrative missed a golden opportunity to solidify his chances of winning an Eclipse award when he scratched out of the Lonesome Glory, and since he excels in races run over flat courses, he most likely will have to wait seven weeks to make his next start in the Colonial Cup on Novenber 17th, the last Grade I steeplechase race of the year. The Grade I Grand National, contested over the often boggy red clay at Far Hills, New Jersey, will be held on October 20th.
Click here to view the result chart for the 2012 Lonesome Glory.
Click here for a video replay of the 2012 Lonesome Glory.
Left-to-right: Alajmal, Forgotten Man and Gustavian jumped the last fence of the William Entenmann Memorial Novice Hurdle three-abreast. Adam Coglianese photo.
A field of 12 novice hurdlers faced the starter in the $50,000 William Entenmann Memorial, but only six of those horses completed the race, lead by Gustavian, who was ridden by champion jockey Paddy Young. Owned by Hickory Tree Stables and trained by Leslie Young, the winning jockey’s wife, Gustavian closed strongly through the stretch to win the Entenmann by a half-length over Alajmal, with Forgotten Man finishing third.
Click here to view the result chart for the 2012 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Hurdle Stakes.
Edited from NSA press release
Elmont, NY – September 25th, 2012
An all-star cast from American Steeplechasing’s championship division, including the top three finishers from the Grade I New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap, is poised to start in the $150,000 Lonesome Glory Stakes at Belmont Park this Thursday, September 27th. The Grade I Lonesome Glory has been carded as the 2nd race of the day, and will be preceded on the program by the $50,000 William Entenmann Memorial which drew a field of 13 novice hurdlers, and has a scheduled post time of 12:50 PM. Entries for the two steeplechase races to be held at Belmont Park on September 27th can be accessed by clicking the following link: Belmont Park Entries 9-27-12.
Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative will be shooting for his third straight victory in the 2 1/2-mile Lonesome Glory. He scored a breakthrough victory in Saratoga Race Course’s New York Turf Writers on Aug. 23 when he drew away late to a one-length victory over Charminster.
Demonstrative and Robbie Walsh return to the winner’s circle after capturing the Grade I New York Turf Writers’ Cup Handicap.
Trained by Richard Valentine, the five-year-old Elusive Quality gelding also won the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes at Saratoga on July 26. His biggest victory last year was at Belmont, in the William Entenmann Novice Stakes. Robbie Walsh was named to ride.
Charminster was one of three Lonesome Glory entrants from the powerful stable of leading owner Irvin S. Naylor. Brianne Slater takes over the training duties from Joseph W. Delozier III, and Carl Rafter will ride. Slater also will saddle Naylor’s Tax Ruling, the two-time Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) winner who most recently finished eighth in Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on Aug. 2. Ross Geraghty has the mount.
Kathy Neilson takes over the training of The Jigsaw Man, another recent import who finished seventh in the Smithwick, beaten only 4 3/4 lengths. Roddy Mackenzie will be in the saddle.
Trainer Jimmy Day will saddle a pairing for Randleston Farm, Spy in the Sky and Duc de Savoie. Spy in the Sky finished third in the New York Turf Writers after upsetting the Smithwick at 25-1 under Danielle Hodsdon. Duc de Savoie finished sixth in a Saratoga optional allowance on Aug. 16. Hodsdon returns on Spy in the Sky, and Jeff Murphy rides Duc de Savoie.
Spy in the Sky and Danielle Hodsdon won the Grade I A.P. Smithwick Memorial at Saratoga this year.
Jonathan Sheppard, the Racing Hall of Fame trainer who recently recorded his 3,000th career victory, will be represented by Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune and Timber Bay Farm’s History Boy. Divine Fortune, a two-time Smithwick winner, fell at the last fence of the New York Turf Writers after finishing fifth in the Smithwick. Darren Nagle will ride the nine-year-old Royal Academy gelding.
History Boy will be seeking his third straight victory. In his most recent start, he drew away to a 9 1/4-length score in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Aug. 16. He also won a Penn National Race Course optional allowance on June 2. Brian Crowley again will ride.
Tom Voss, the veteran Maryland horseman who was last year’s champion trainer by wins, will saddle The Fields Stable’s Left Unsaid, who was making a strong bid in the New York Turf Writers but was unable to avoid the fallen Divine Fortune. In his previous start, the Dynaformer gelding just missed catching Spy in the Sky in the A. P. Smithwick and finished second by a nose. Champion jockey Paddy Young will ride.
Here is the Lonesome Glory field in post-position order:
Divine Fortune. 2003 ch. g., Royal Anthem–My Tombola, by Northern Fling. Owner: William Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. 2012 record: 4-1-1-0, $46,000. 2011 record: 4-1-1-0, $64,000. Fell at last fence of New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) after finishing fifth, beaten 3 1/2 lengths, in A. P. Smithwick (Gr. 1) on Aug. 2. Finished good second in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) after an easy victory in an allowance race in Tryon, N.C., on April 21. In 2011, won A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 2) for second straight year.
Divine Fortune will be reunited with Darren Nagle, who was suspended for three weeks at Saratoga this year for “gross recklessness” when he tried to run Danielle Hodsdon through a wing on August 2nd.
Pierrot Lunaire. 2004 b. g., War Chant–Playact (Ire), by Hernando (Fr). Owner: Mary Ann Houghland. Trainer: Blythe Miller Davies. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2012 record: 3-0-0-1, $13,000. 2011 record: 3-0-0-1, $20,000. Kicked off 2012 season with a third in Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at Middleburg, Va., on April 21, then was fifth in the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), a race he won in 2009. Also finished fifth in David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) at Colonial Downs on June 2.
All Together. 2005 b. g., Danzig–Unify, by Farma Way. Owners: Andre W. Brewster and Sheila J. Williams. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie Dowling. 2012 record: 5-0-0-3, $29,000. 2011 record: 7-1-3-2, $85,800. Set pace in New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) and finished fifth on Aug. 23. Attended early pace and held on well for third in the A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on July 26. Novice champion in 2010 finished third in Colonial’s Zeke Ferguson (Gr. 3) after setting early pace. Most recent victory was the 2011 Jonathan Kiser Novice at Saratoga.
History Boy. 2006 b. g., Grand Slam–Rare Blend, by Bates Motel. Owner: Timber Bay Farm. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Brian Crowley. 2012 record: 4-2-1-0, $69,100. 2011 record: 2-0-1-0, $15,750. Easily won the Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Aug. 16 after winning optional allowance hurdle at Penn National Race Course on June 30. Began 2012 season with second by a half-length in the $20,000 Sandhills Cup optional allowance at the Stoneybrook Steeplechase in Raeford, N.C., on April 7.
Tax Ruling. 2003 dk. b. or br. g., Dynaformer–Fantastic Find, by Mr. Prospector. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Brianne Slater. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2012 record: 2-0-0-0, $7,500. 2011 record: 4-2-0-0, $153,500. Finished fourth in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) after winning in previous two years, then was eighth in the A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) at Saratoga. Also won the 2011 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) at Camden, S.C.
Duc de Savoie. 2006 b. g., Harlan’s Holiday—Tee for Three, by Lil E. Tee. Owner: Randleston Farm. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Jeff Murphy. 2012 NSA record: 4-1-1-0, $22,200. Won maiden victory at Carolina Cup meet in Camden, S.C., on March 30. Finished sixth in his most recent starts, optional allowances at Colonial Downs and Saratoga Race Course.
Spy in the Sky. 2004 ch. g., Thunder Gulch—Monaassavaat, by Zilzal. Owner: Randleston Farm. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Danielle Hodsdon. 2012 record: 4-1-0-1, $81,250. 2011 record: 6-0-0-3, $12,000. Upset A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) at 25-1 on Aug. 2 and then was a respectable third in the New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1). Previously has two fourth-place finishes, in the Marcellus Frost (Gr. 2) at Iroquois Steeplechase and David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) at Colonial Downs. Won the 2009 New York Turf Writers.
Left Unsaid. 2005 b. g., Dynaformer–Hello Soso (Ire), by Alzao. Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Tom Voss. Jockey: Paddy Young. 2012 record: 2-0-1-0, $18,000. 2011 record: 1-0-1-0, $13,500. Beaten only a nose in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), his 2012 debut, then was unable to avoid a fallen horse while making a strong move in the New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) on Aug. 23. Novice champion of 2009 finished second to Decoy Daddy in 2011 Marcellus Frost (Gr. 2) at Nashville’s Iroquois Steeplechase.
Left Unsaid lost the A.P. Smithwick to Spy in the Sky by a nose and was brought down at the last fence of the New York Turf Writers’ Cup Handicap.
Demonstrative. 2007 b. g., Elusive Quality–Loving Pride, by Quiet American. Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. 2012 record: 4-2-0-0, $46,500. 2011 record: 8-2-4-2, $96,300. Drew clear to a one-length victory in the New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) on Aug. 23 after two-length victory in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice on July 26. Finished sixth in the David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) at Colonial Downs on June 2 after losing rider in the Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase, his first 2012 start. Won 2011 William G. Entenmann Novice at Belmont Park. Was 2010 three-year-old champion.
Charminster (Ire). 2006 b. g., Broadway Flyer—Monteleena, by Montelimar. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Brianne Slater. Jockey: Carl Rafter. 2012 NSA record: 1-0-1-0, $27,000. Recent import ran a strong race in New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) and finished second, a length back. Won a hurdle handicap at Warwick in May after losing his rider in the Novice Handicap Steeplechase over bigger fences in March. Finished ninth in a Cartmel hurdle handicap on July 21.
The Jigsaw Man (Ire). 2004 ch. g., Bob Black—Native Sunset, by Be My Native. 2012 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $0. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: Roddy Mackenzie. Never was a factor in the A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), his U.S. debut, and finished seventh. Last previous win was at Sandown in April 2011.
Edited from NSA press release
Saratoga Springs – August 30th, 2012
Cubist closed powerfully after the last fence of the $75,000 Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Filly & Mare Hurdle Stakes to catch Cat Feathers in the final yards, prevailing by a neck for owner-trainer Jonathan Sheppard at historic Saratoga Race Course.
Owner-trainer Kate Dalton’s Cat Feathers, who had taken the lead approaching the final fence, ran on well to hold second easily, 5 3/4 lengths ahead of Magalen O. Bryant’s Well Fashioned. Leading owner Irv Naylor’s recent import Cordillera finished fourth, a length farther back, after bidding for the lead at the final fence.
Cubist, in background silhouetted by Cordillera, sails over the fifth fence on her way to victory in the Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Hurdle Stakes. Adam Coglianese photo.
Ridden by Brian Crowley, Cubist went off at 5.40-1 and collected the first stakes victory of her career. The five-year-old Sheppard homebred by Royal Academy ran the Mrs. Jeffords’ 2 1/16 miles in 3:53.74 on firm turf.
In a highly competitive field, Cat Feathers went off as the 2.15.-1 favorite after her impressive victory at 23.30-1 in the Mrs. Ogden Phipps Filly & Mare Stakes on Aug. 9. In her prior start over fences, Cubist had finished fifth in the Valentine Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares at the Fair Hill Races in Maryland on May 26.
Owner-trainer Jack Fisher’s Maya Charli had won the Valentine Memorial after setting all the pace, and the Cozzene mare again went to the front in the Mrs. Jeffords. Fifth in the Mrs. Phipps, Maya Charli set a steady pace in company with Well Fashioned, W. Russell Cline’s Better Than Even, and Cordillera.
Jockey Bernie Dalton tucked Cat Feathers behind the speed, and Cubist was near the back of a well-bunched field.
Maya Charli began to tire after the final fence, while Cat Feathers moved strongly on the last turn and led over the final fence. But Crowley had Cubist gaining ground on the outside, and the Sheppard mare swept to the front in the last sixteenth-mile past a game Cat Feathers. Cordillera, making her first U.S. start, tired late and was overtaken by Well Fashioned, who also had finished third in the Mrs. Phipps.
Click here for the result chart for the 2012 Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Hurdle Stakes.
Click here for a video replay of the Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Hurdle Stakes.
The Mrs. Jeffords was the final jump race of the Saratoga race meeting and capped a steeplechase daily double. In the afternoon’s first race, jockey Paddy Young drove Riders Up Farm’s You the Man to a 2 3/4-length victory in a $65,000 allowance/optional claiming hurdle event.
You The Man (left) and Brave Prospect jumped the last fence in tandem before You The Man went on to capture the allowance/optional claiming hurdle race at Saratoga on August 30th. Adam Coglianese photo.
Trained by Todd Wyatt, You the Man was dispatched at 14.50-1 and ran the 2 1/16-mile distance in 3:53.80. Woodslane Farm’s pacesetter Brave Prospect finished second, three lengths clear of Augustin Stables’ Rainiero.
Click here for the result chart for the allowance/optional claiming hurdle race at Saratoga on August 30th.
While the Jeffords was the last steeplechase race at Saratoga this season, steeplechase racing makes its annual stop at historic Belmont Park on Thursday, September 27th with the Grade I $150,000 Lonesome Glory Stakes to be contested at 2 1/2 miles.
Edited from NSA press release
Monday, August 27th, 2012
Owner-trainer Kate Dalton’s Cat Feathers, who upset reigning female steeplechase champion Sweet Shani in the Mrs. Ogden Phipps Stakes, will shoot for a Saratoga stakes double on Thursday, August 30th, in the $75,000 Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Stakes for fillies and mares. The four-year-old Catienus filly will be challenged by seven opponents, including four returning from the Mrs. Phipps on August 9th.
Cat Feathers and Bernie Dalton, who won the Phipps at 26-1, hope to prove that their longshot victory was not a fluke.
The Mrs. Jeffords, named for the late owner of Racing Hall of Fame member Lonesome Glory, is one of two jump races on the final Steeplechase Thursday of the 2012 Saratoga meeting. A full field was entered for the afternoon’s first race, a $65,000 allowance /optional claming hurdle event.
In the Mrs. Phipps, Cat Feathers moved strongly through Saratoga’s stretch and wore down Sweet Shani before drawing clear to a 1 1/4-length victory at 23.30-1 odds. Bernie Dalton, a veteran Irish-born jockey and the owner’s husband, will again be in the saddle.
Trainer Doug Fout will saddle Magalen O. Bryant’s Well Fashioned, who finished third in the Mrs. Phipps, 7 3/4 lengths behind Cat Feathers. Jeff Murphy, Fout’s first-call jockey, will be aboard the Virginia-bred Cozzene mare.
Also returning from the Mrs. Phipps is owner-trainer Jack Fisher’s Maya Charli, who set the early pace but faded to finish fifth, 30 1/2 lengths behind the winner. Ross Geraghty again will be aboard the seven-year-old mare, who is also sired by 1985 male turf champion Cozzene, as she aims for her third win of the year. In her start prior to the Mrs. Phipps, Maya Charli had wired the Valentine Memorial Stakes, winning by 2 1/4 lengths against a tough field at the Fair Hill Races in Maryland.
Front running Maya Charli and Ross Geraghty hope to win the Jeffords in flag-to-wire fashion.
Also entering from the Mrs. Phipps is Octoraro Stables’ Euro Power, who finished seventh. Trainer Blythe Miller Davies tapped Danielle Hodsdon to ride the four-year-old Powerscourt filly. Marethon Stable’s Eastern Starlett was eased before the Mrs. Phipps’ final fence. Jockey Willie McCarthy gets a return engagement for trainer Arch Kingsley Jr.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard entered his Cubist, a five-year-old Royal Academy homebred who finished fifth in the Valentine on May 26. Since then, she has had two flat starts at Delaware Park. Brian Crowley will ride.
W. Russell Cline’s Better Than Even, fourth in the Valentine, also has been toiling on the flat and has a second and a third in Colonial Downs turf races to her credit. Roddy Mackenzie will ride for trainer Simon Hobson.
Leading owner Irvin S. Naylor will be represented by a newcomer to North America, Cordillera, who won her most recent start, a hurdle race at Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse on July 24. Trainer J. W. Delozier tapped Carl Rafter to ride the four-year-old filly.
Here is the Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Stakes field in post-position order:
Well Fashioned. 2007 b. f., Cozzene–Crypos’ Best, by Cryptoclearance. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Jeff Murphy. 2012 record: 4-0-0-2, $14,000. 2011 record: 3-2-3-1, $60,600. Most recently finished third in Saratoga’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps on Aug. 9 after a third in the Valentine Memorial at Fair Hill, Md., on May 26. Finished fourth in the Margaret Currey Henley at Nashville’s Iroquois Steeplechase on May 12. Closed 2011 with a 5 1/4-length win in the Crown Royal Stakes for fillies and mares at the Steeplechase at Callaway in Georgia on Nov. 5.
Cat Feathers. 2008 dk. b. or br. f., Catienus—Mistress Hemming, by Quiet American. Owner-trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2012 record: 3-1-0-0, $45,000. 2011 record: 2-1-0-0, $6,000. Upset Saratoga’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps Stakes at 23.30-1 over top field on Aug. 9. Finished seventh in Colonial Downs allowance race on June 2 after being pulled up in High Hope allowance race in Lexington, Ky., on May 20. Won maiden claimer at Charleston Cup Races in South Carolina on Nov. 13.
Well Fashioned, shown here with jockey Willie Dowling prior to the Phipps, gets a rider change to James Murphy in the Jeffords.
Eastern Starlett. 2005 b. m., Eastern Echo—Ample’s Star, by Risen Star. Owner: Marethon Stable. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2012 record: 3-1-2-0, $14,400. Pulled up before last fence of Saratoga’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps on Aug. 9. Won Colonial Downs maiden hurdle by 2 1/4 lengths as the 3.30-1 favorite on June 17 after two second-place finishes.
Cubist. 2007 ch. m., Royal Academy–Effervescent, by Citidancer. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Brian Crowley. 2012 record: 2-1-0-0, $10,600. 2011 record: 3-0-1-1, $6,450. Sheppard homebred finished fifth to Maya Charli in Valentine Memorial at Fair Hill, Md., on May 26. Was placed first after finishing second in an Atlanta Steeplechase maiden special weight race on April 14. Finished third in Crown Royal Stakes at the Steeplechase at Callaway in Georgia on Nov. 5.
Maya Charli. 2007 gr. or ro. m., Cozzene–L’Enfant, by A. P Jet. Owner: Jack Fisher. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2012 record: 5-2-0-2, $33,000. Led early in Saratoga’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps but faded to finish fifth. Front-runner upset Valentine Memorial at Fair Hill, Md., on May 26 against top-notch field. Cruised to a 5 1/4-length victory in maiden claiming hurdle at the Radnor Hunt Races on May 19.
Former champion steeplechase jockey Arch Kingsley conditions Eastern Starlett, shown here with jockey William McCarthy.
Better Than Even. 2005 ch. m., Stephen Got Even—Duel to the End, by End Sweep. Owner: W. Russell Cline. Trainer: Simon Hobson. Jockey: Roddy Mackenzie. 2012 NSA record: 3-2-0-0, $16,000. Has been running well on the flat at Colonial Downs after finishing fourth in the Valentine Memorial at Fair Hill, Md., on May 26. Defeated males handily in her first career start over fences, in a maiden claiming race at Middleburg, Va., on April 21. Placed first after finishing second in claiming race at Willowdale Steeplechase in Kennett Square, Pa., on May 13.
Cordillera (GB). 2008 ch. f., Araafa (Ire)—Alexander Celebre, by Peintre Celebre. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: J. W. Delozier. Jockey: Carl Rafter. 2012 NSA record: No starts. Recent import won a hurdle race at Bangor-on-Dee Racecourse by nine lengths on July 24.
Euro Power. 2008 b. f., Powerscourt (GB)—Eurosceptic, by Cozzene. Owner: Octoraro Stables. Trainer: Blythe Miller Davies. Jockey: Danielle Hodsdon. 2012 record: 3-1-0-0, $9,000. Finished seventh in Saratoga’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps on Aug. 9. Won her maiden victory over fences at Saratoga Open House on July 15 after maiden-claimer victory on the flat at Colonial Downs on June 28.
Edited from NSA press release