Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard already has extended his streak of winning at least one Saratoga Race Course race every season beginning in 1969, and on Thursday he will seek to maintain his dominance of the historic track’s steeplechase races in the $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Last year, Sheppard won four of Saratoga’s nine steeplechase races, and he will have three contenders for the 2 1/16-mile Smithwick on the inner turf course. Post time is 12:25 p.m. Heading his contingent is Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune, the reigning Eclipse Award-winning steeplechase horse who won the $150,000…
A field of veteran steeplechase horses—all but two of them running for a $30,000 claiming tag—will line up for a $65,000 optional allowance claiming hurdle on Wednesday as Saratoga Race Course begins its second week of jump racing. First post time is 12:25 p.m., and TVG will provide live coverage with expert commentator Jimmy Duggan. Bill Pape’s El Season, who was feasting on starter allowance hurdles earlier in the racing season, will be looking to bounce back from a dull fourth in the High Hope Steeplechase’s Jay Trump starter allowance hurdle on May 18. Trained by Racing Hall of Fame…
Gil Johnston’s Awesome Pearl, overlooked at 35-to-1 in the betting, surged through Saratoga Race Course’s stretch and won a down-to-the-wire battle with Kingdom in Thursday’s $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Ridden by apprentice jockey Kieran Norris, Awesome Pearl prevailed by a nose after the deep-stretch battle with The Fields Stable’s Kingdom. Rock Ford Stables’ Sporty finished third, 6 1/4 lengths farther back, and Bill Pape’s Bluegrass Summer, the 2013 novice champion, was fourth in a talent-packed field of 10. Trained by Richard Valentine, Awesome Pearl ran the Jonathan Kiser’s 2 1/16 miles in 3:48.26 on a firm inner turf course….
Chasing in Focus
It was a performance as luminescent as his name. Gil Johnston's Awesome Pearl, a rank outsider at 35-1, rallied from off the pace at the last and went on to a nose score over The Fields Stable's Kingdom in the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes at Saratoga on Thursday. Here are the photo highligts - tod marks