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Portrade jumping a fence early in the 2016 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) at Saratoga Race Course. (Tod Marks photo)

Saratoga Race Course’s steeplechase schedule kicks off Wednesday with the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes for the sport’s rising stars, and the following afternoon’s $150,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) attracted a high-quality group of 13 nominees.

The Field Stable’s Portrade wired last summer’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), and he has been nominated for a second shot at the 2 1/16-mile Smithwick after finishing third last year. Trained by Elizabeth Voss, the eight-year-old Irish-bred most recently finished fourth after setting the early pace in the Radnor Hunt Races’ National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) on May 20.

Portrade is third highweight in the Smithwick weights at 148 pounds, and Voss also nominated newcomer Modem, who is second in the weights at 154 pounds. Now owned by York, Pa., businessman Robert A. Kinsley, Modem bid farewell to Ireland with an allowance win over steeplechase fences at Ballinrobe Race Course on May 30.

Champion trainer Jack Fisher dominated the spring season with record purses of $633,300, and he nominated the Smithwick’s highweight, Grade 1 winner Mr. Hot Stuff. Owned by Gil Johnston, Mr. Hot Stuff’s Grade 1 win came in the 2013 Smithwick. The former Triple Crown flat competitor would carry the Smithwick’s 156-pound highweight.

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SOME FACTS ABOUT JUMP RACING IN NORTH AMERICA

$6,140,000

NSA PURSES IN 2016

498 HORSES

RAN IN 2016

+1,000,000

SPECTATORS EACH YEAR

12 STATES

HOST STEEPLECHASE RACES

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