All the Way Jose and Diplomat, both Grade 1 winners, are among nine nominees to the Saratoga Race Course’s $175,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on Thursday, July 26. The 2 1/16-mile Smithwick and the $175,000 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) on Aug. 23 head the lineup of steeplechase races for Saratoga’s 2018 season.
Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose, winner of Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) last September, most recently fell while near the lead in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) on May 19.
All the Way Jose is trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, who bred the eight-year-old Senor Swinger gelding. Sheppard also nominated Hudson River Farms’ Iranistan, a four-year-old who has never been headed in his three starts over fences. He won the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle by six lengths.
Flying Elvis Stable’s Diplomat will be making his first start over fences since winning last year’s New York Turf Writers Cup at 17.70-to-1 odds. Trained by Kate Dalton, the nine-year-old Kitten’s Joy gelding came back to the races with a 10th-place finish in a Suffolk Downs flat allowance race on July 8.
Robert A. Kinsley’s Modem is seeking his first U.S. victory after finishing second in five straight Grade 1 races, most recently the Calvin Houghland Iroquois. Trained by Elizabeth Voss, Modem was second in the Smithwick Memorial and New York Turf Writers last summer.
Trainer Richard Valentine nominated Magalen O. Bryant’s Personal Start, a seven-year-old homebred who is unbeaten this year. After winning the Carolina Cup for novices, the Jump Start gelding blazed to an eight-length victory in the Virginia Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) on May 5.
The Smithwick Memorial nominations contained two Irish-breds who would be making their first U.S. starts. Indian Hawk, now owned by Irv Naylor, won his farewell race, a steeplechase allowance at Wincanton, by 10 lengths on May 15. He is trained by Leslie Young.
Oskar Denarius, a three-time winner this past spring, is trained by Ben Pauling, a young horseman based in England’s Cotswolds who secured his first Grade 1 victory this year in his third season of training.
Also nominated to the Smithwick Memorial were Woodslane Farm’s Overwhelming and Mark W. Buyck Jr’s Show Court. Trained by Jack Fisher, Overwhelming finished sixth in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial ratings handicap on May 26. Show Court, trained by Arch Kingsley Jr., won Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes last summer.