American Steeplechasing’s summer season kicks off Saturday at Parx Racing with two flat races for hurdlers, and the fences will go up on Tuesday at the suburban Philadelphia track for three jumps races.
All five races attracted full fields, with also-eligibles in several of them.
The Saturday flat races each carry $25,000 purses and will be run at 1 1/2 miles on Parx’s turf course. The oversubscribed races, carded as the first and third races, attracted several stakes winners preparing for the rich stakes races at Saratoga Race Course later in July and August.
In the first race are Grade 1 winner Choral Society, 2017 Carolina Cup winner Show Court, and 2016 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes winner Hardrock Eleven. The third race features Grade 3 stakes winners Balance the Budget and Diplomat as well as multiple handicap winner Andi’amu.
Three days later, the summer jumps action begins in earnest with two maiden hurdles, each with a $25,000 purse, and a $30,000 overnight handicap. All three races will be run at 2 1/16 miles, and the fence in the homestretch will be bypassed on the final circuit of the course.
The $30,000 handicap drew a highly competitive field. Gil Johnston’s Fantastic Song ran a fantastic race to win the Steeplechase of Charleston’s featured optional allowance hurdle on April 8 for trainer Fenneka Bentley, and the Lemon Drop Kid gelding will be looking to rebound from a fifth-place finish in the Fair Hill Races’ Valentine Memorial ratings handicap on May 27. Sean McDermott, who currently leads the rider standings by purse earnings, has the mount.
Trainer Kate Dalton will send out Stephen E. Johnson’s Strongbox and Edition Farm’s Zio Elio. Strongbox, a maiden winner last fall, most recently finished third in an Iroquois Steeplechase allowance hurdle. New York-bred Zio Elio scored his maiden hurdle victory at the Steeplechase of Charleston. Bernie Dalton has the mount on Strongbox, and Keith Dalton (no relation) will ride Zio Elio.
Donna T. Rogers’ Dapper Dan, a maiden winner at the Virginia Gold Cup on May 6, came back with a third-place finish in a tough allowance hurdle at Radnor two weeks later. Darren Nagle rides for trainer Neil Morris.
Jockey Jack Doyle has a return call on Robert A. Kinsley’s Al after guiding the British-bred five-year-old to a 5 1/2-length victory in Radnor’s maiden hurdle for trainer Elizabeth Voss.
Amateur jockey Eric Poretz has a return call on Manacor Partners’ Manacor, winner of a Fair Hill allowance hurdle limited to apprentice jockeys. The nine-year-old veteran is trained by William Dowling.
Here is the field for the $30,000 overnight handicap hurdle. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Cocodimama. 2009 dk. b. or br. g., Johar—Kschessinka, by Nureyev. Owner: Bon Nouvel Thoroughbreds. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Mark Watts. Breeders: Mr. and Mrs. M. Roy Jackson (Ky.). 2017 record: 2-0-0-1, $3,500. 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. Finished third in 2017 Radnor ratings handicap after fifth in Queen’s Cup ratings handicap. In only 2016 start, was eighth in Colonial Cup ratings handicap. (110)
Fantastic Song. 2009 b. g., Lemon Drop Kid—Fantastic Shirl, by Fantastic Light. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Fenneka Bentley. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Del Ridge Farm (Ky.) 2017 record: 2-1-0-0, $19,600. 2016 record: No starts. Ran a big race after missing 2016 season to win Steeplechase of Charleston’s featured optional allowance hurdle, then was well-beaten fifth in Fair Hill Valentine Memorial ratings handicap. Won 2015 High Hope optional allowance hurdle and was third in similar race at Saratoga that year. (115)
River Rush. 2009 b. g., Orientate—Sweet Tart, by Lemon Drop Kid. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Gus Dahl. Breeder: Adena Springs (Ont.) 2017 record: 2-0-0-0, $1,200. 2016 record: 2-1-0-0, $13,000. Finished fifth in High Hope optional allowance hurdle after opening 2017 campaign with seventh in Virginia Gold Cup’s Secretariat Stakes on the flat. Scored maiden hurdle win at Aiken Fall and was fifth in tough Colonial Cup ratings handicap. Won 2012 Plate Trial in Ontario. (112)
Al (GB). 2012 b. g., Halling—Incarnation (Ire), by Samum. Owner: Robert A. Kinsely. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Paul Moulton (GB). 2027 NSA record: 1-1-0-0, $18,000. In U.S. debut, won 2017 Radnor Hunt maiden hurdle. Long-distance flat runner won a handicap in 2015, his only other career victory. (116)
Strongbox. 2012 b. g., Offlee Wild—Wild Goose Chase, by Dynaformer. Owner: Stephen E. Johnson. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeder: Stephen E. Johnson (Ky.). 2017 record: 2-0-0-1, $5,000. 2016 NSA record: 4-1-0-0, $21,000. Finished third in 2017 Iroquois Steeplechase allowance hurdle after fall in Queen’s Cup. Won 2016 Colonial Cup maiden hurdle, his only career win, after fifth-place finishes at Shawan Downs and Far Hills. (116)
Curve of Stones 2011 gr. or ro. g., Arch—Exceptionally, by El Prado (Ire). Owner: Sarah Rebecca Shepherd. Trainer: David M. Bourke. Jockey: Brendan Crowley. Breeder: Audley Farm (Va.) 2017 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $0. 2016 NSA record: 3-2-0-0, $56,400. Pulled up in 2017 Fair Hill ratings handicap after ninth in Virginia Gold Cup flat race. Won maiden victory at 2016 Virginia Gold Cup and came back two weeks later to win $35,000 allowance hurdle at Radnor. Finished fifth in Monmouth Park ratings handicap. (115)
Able Archer. 2012 dk. b. or br. g., Eskendereya—Fareena, by Point Given. Owner: KMSN Stable. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Spirit Lake Enterprises (Pa.) 2017 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $15,000. 2016 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $1,500. Won a 2017 Middleburg Spring maiden claimer and then fell at fifth fence in Radnor ratings handicap. (110)
Manacor (Ire). 2008 b. g., Refuse to Bend (Ire)—Mollyputtheketelon, by Rainbow Quest. Owner: Manacor Partners. Trainer: William Dowling. Jockey: Eric Poretz. Breeder: Kilboy Estate (Ire). 2017 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $6,000. 2016 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $1,350. Won allowance hurdle for amateur jockeys at the 2017 Fair Hill meet after seventh in Middleburg Spring allowance hurdle. Continues to split his time between flat racing and jumps. (115)
Dapper Dan. 2012 b. g., Pleasantly Perfect—Wardrobe, by War Chant. Owner: Donna T. Rogers. Trainer: Neil R. Morris. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeders: Mr. and Mrs. Bertram R. Firestone (Va.). 2017 record: 2-1-0-1, $37,500. 2016 NSA record: 2-0-0-1, $9,900. Won 2017 Virginia Gold Cup maiden hurdle and finished third in Radnor allowance hurdle. (116)
Reporter. 2012 b. g., Yes It’s True—Skirmish, by War Chant. Owner: Beverly R. Steinman. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Beverly R. Steinman (Ky.). 2017 record: 2-0-0-0, $1,400. 2016 record: 4-1-1-0, $24,500. Finished fifth in 2017 Radnor allowance hurdle after being pulled up in Virginia Gold Cup allowance hurdle. Won 2016 Suffolk Downs maiden hurdle by 9 3/4 lengths in third start over fences. Passed tiring horses to finish fifth in Saratoga allowance hurdle. (113)
Zio Elio. 2013 ch. g., American Lion—Runaway Zia, by Runaway Groom. Owner: Edition Farm. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Keith Dalton. Breeders: Christopher Shelli, Patrick Morell, and Darby Dan Farm (N.Y.) 2017 record: 1-1-0-0, $15,000. In debut start over fences, won Queen’s Cup maiden hurdle. Maiden on the flat at New York tracks. (116)
Bishop’s Castle. 2009 dk. b. or br. g., Distorted Humor—Miss Caerleona, by Caerleon. Owner: Bruton Street (US). Trainer: Todd Wyatt. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Darley (Ky.) 2017 record: 2-1-0-0, $12,000. 2016 record: 3-0-0-1, $4,800. Won a 2017 Radnor maiden claiming hurdle after seventh in Middleburg Spring maiden hurdle. Finished third in 2016 Suffolk Downs maiden hurdle. (110)