Petticoats Loose Farm’s Choral Society returned to the scene of his greatest triumph and won Saratoga Race Course’s $70,000 hurdle handicap on Wednesday.
Winless since upsetting the 2015 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), the Florida-bred Holy Bull gelding took over at the last of nine fences and turned back a late challenge by Robert A. Kinsley’s No Wunder to win by three-quarters of a length.
Trained by Jack Fisher, Choral Society went off at 6.10-to-1 and paid $14.20 to win after running the handicap’s 2 3/8 miles in 4:32.82 on firm turf. He carried the handicap’s 156-pound highweight.
Gil Johnston’s Fantastic Song, ridden by Tom Garner, finished third, two lengths behind No Wunder, and Hardrock Eleven was fourth in a field of eight. Selection Sunday, the narrow 3.20-to-1 favorite over 3.30-to-1 No Wunder, finished fifth.
Choral Society, who races in the Petticoats Loose silks of Maryland horsewoman Meriwether Morris, benefited from a savvy ride by leading jockey Darren Nagle, who had his first mount on the eight-year-old.
After breaking on top, Nagle placed Choral Society immediately behind Rosbrian Farm’s Orchestra Leader and Virginia Lazenby’s Hardrock Eleven, who entered with two career wins at Saratoga.
Despite jumping toward the outside at each fence, Hardrock Eleven seized the lead going into the last two fences, but Nagle pulled the trigger on Choral Society over the last fence. Choral Society opened daylight on the turn and appeared to be heading before an open-length victory before No Wunder launched an attack in the final furlong.
Nagle went to a left-handed whip to keep Choral Society moving forward, and No Wunder ran out of race course under Jack Doyle.
Following his Smithwick victory, Choral Society was unplaced in the William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes at Belmont Park and missed all of the 2016 season. He was pulled up in his return start at the Tryon Block House meet in mid-April and ran an even sixth in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) on May 20.