Gregory Hawkins’ Alajmal, the 2012 novice champion and stylish winner of this year’s $50,000 Carolina Cup, will meet a tough field of steeplechase newcomers in the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes, the kickoff feature for Saratoga Race Course’s Steeplechase Thursdays on July 25. In all, the Kiser drew 12 novices, or horses in their first seasons of racing over fences.
Alajmal, trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Janet Elliot, will be looking to get his season back on track after finishing a well-beaten sixth in the $50,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase for novices near Charlotte, N.C., on April 27. He had won the Carolina Cup for novices by 1 1/2 lengths at Camden, S.C., on March 30.
No stranger to Saratoga, Alajmal sewed up his novice title last year with a victory in an optional allowance on Aug. 2. Ross Geraghty, last year’s champion jockey, has the mount on the Shadwell Farm-bred First Samurai gelding for the 2 1/16-mile Kiser.
Among Alajmal’s opponents will be Clorevia Farm’s rising star Dr. Skip, who have never lost over fences. The five-year-old Eddington gelding scored his debut victory in a maiden hurdle at the Radnor Hunt Races on May 18 and then devastated an optional allowance field at Parx Racing outside Philadelphia on June 27.
Clorevia, owned by Virginians Charley and Susan Strittmatter, also will be represented by Extraextraordinary, who fell in his most recent start, the $75,000 Marcellus Frost Stakes for novices at the Iroquois Steeplechase near Nashville on May 11. Willie McCarthy will ride Extraextraordinary, who is trained by Doug Fout.
Also coming into the Kiser from Fout’s barn will be Betsy Mead’s Forgotten Man, who will be ridden by Jeff Murphy. Forgotten Man finished third in the Carolina Cup and was fifth in the Queen’s Cup.
Bill Pape, a long-time force in steeplechase racing, will be represented by Martini Brother and Powerofone. Martini Brother is undefeated this year, with a maiden score at the Atlanta Steeplechase on April 13 and a modest upset against more experienced horses in Radnor’s $30,000 Thompson Memorial allowance hurdle. Powerofone started the year with two victories before tiring and being pulled up in the Marcellus Frost.
Trainer Jonathan Sheppard named Darren Nagle aboard both Pape entrants. The Racing Hall of Fame trainer also entered his Barnstorming, who was fourth in the Queen’s Cup and Radnor’s $50,000 National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3). Bernie Dalton has the mount.
Jack Fisher, last year’s champion trainer by wins, will saddle Woodslane Farm’s Sharp Numbers, who won his first start over fences in an Iroquois maiden race before finishing seventh in Parx’s optional allowance. Gus Dahl will ride.
Tom Voss, the steeplechase sport’s champion trainer in 2011, will send out The Fields Stable’s Kingdom, a four-year-old Louis Quatorze gelding who devastated a maiden field by 19 lengths at the Fair Hill Races in Maryland on May 25. Three-time champion jockey Paddy Young will ride.
Magalen O. Bryant’s Sulwaan will be looking to improve on a third-place finish in the Marcellus Frost after winning Foxfield Spring’s Daniel Van Clief Memorial allowance hurdle on April 27. Veteran jockey Xavier Aizpuru will ride for trainer Jimmy Day
Virginia-based trainer Richard Valentine will saddle The Elkstone Group’s Bodie Island and Riverdee Stable’s Constant Contact. Bodie Island finished third in Radnor’s Thompson Memorial before a fifth in Parx’s optional allowance. Danielle Hodsdon will ride.
Constant Contact, a veteran hurdler in England, will be making his first U.S. start, and Robbie Walsh will be in the saddle.
The Kiser honors the memory of champion jockey Jonathan Kiser, who died in a non-racing accident in 2000.
Here are the 12 entrants for the $50,000 Jonathan Kiser.
Extraextraordinary. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Giant’s Causeway—Scoop, by Gone West. Owner: Clorevia Farm. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2013 record: 3-0-0-1, $7,000. 2012 record: 5-2-0-0, $12,100. Fell in his most recent start, the Marcellus Frost Stakes for novices at the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville on May 11. Began 2013 season with a third in the Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 3) at Aiken Spring on March 23 and fifth in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at Middleburg Spring Races on April 20.
Barnstorming. 2006 b. g., Thunder Gulch—Soul of the Cat, by Stravinsky. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2013 record: 3-0-0-0, $2,000. 2012 record: 2-0-0-1, $8,000. Fourth in most recent starts, the National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) at the Radnor Hunt Races on May 18 and the Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase in North Carolina on April 27. Finished fifth in Carolina Cup in his 2013 debut.
Martini Brother. 2008 dk. b. or br. g., A.P. Indy—Island Sand, by Tabasco Cat. Owner: Bill Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. 2013 record: 2-2-0-0, $33,000. 2012 record: 3-0-0-1, $2,250. For new connections, undefeated in 2013 after winning Atlanta maiden race on April 13 and beating more experienced rivals in Thompson Memorial allowance hurdle at Radnor Hunt Races on May 18.
Forgotten Man. 2008 ch. g., Bowman’s Band—Hark the Sound (GB), by Robellino. Owner: Betsy Mead. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Jeff Murphy. 2013 record: 2-0-0-1, $7,000. 2012 record: 4-1-0-3, $31,000. 2011 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. Started 2013 with third-place finish in Carolina Cup on March 30 and then finished fifth in the Queen’s Cup on April 27.
Alajmal. 2008 b. g., First Samurai—Alattrah, by Shadeed. Owner: Gregory D. Hawkins. Trainer: Janet Elliot. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2013 record: 2-1-0-0, $31,500. 2012 NSA record: 6-2-1-1, $64,000. Stylish winner of Carolina Cup for novices in first 2013 start but was a distant sixth in the Queen’s Cup. Shadwell-bred locked up 2012 novice championship with a victory in a Saratoga Race Course optional allowance. Closed out 2012 season with a strong third in the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1).
Powerofone. 2009 b. g., A.P. Indy—Byzantine, by Quiet American. Owner: William L. Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2013 record: 3-2-0-0, $33,000. 2012 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,250. Started 2013 with two wins, in Carolina Cup maiden race and optional allowance at the Atlanta Steeplechase, before being pulled up in Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at the Iroquois Steeplechase on May 11.
Kingdom. 2009 b. g., Louis Quatorze—Distant Drumroll, by Eastern Echo. Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Tom Voss. Jockey: Paddy Young. Won Fair Hill maiden race by 19 lengths on May 25. Finished second in the 2012 Raymond G. Woolfe Memorial Stakes for three-year-olds at the Colonial Cup on Nov. 17. Mimi Voss-bred is half brother to two-time filly and mare champion Guelph (2005 and 2008).
Sulwaan (Ire). 2007 b. g., King’s Best—Iktidar (GB), by Green Desert. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Jimmy Day. 2013 NSA record: 3-1-0-1, $22,500. Won the featured Daniel Van Clief Memorial allowance hurdle at Foxfield Spring on April 27 before third in Marcellus Frost at the Iroquois Steeplechase on May 11. Winner over hurdles in Ireland fell in his first U.S. start, Aiken Spring’s optional allowance.
Constant Contact (GB). 2007 b. g., Passing Glance (GB)—Floriana, by Selkirk. Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. 2013 NSA record: 0-0-0-0, $0. Veteran hurdler in England had a second in three starts this year before being imported. Modest stakes winner on flat and handicap winner over hurdles.
Sharp Numbers. 2008 dk. b. or br. g., Johar—Flight Numbers, by Polish Numbers. Owner: Woodslane Farm. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Gus Dahl. 2013 record: 2-1-0-0, $12,000. Won his maiden start over fences at Iroquois Steeplechase on May 11 before seventh-place finish in Parx Racing optional allowance hurdle on June 25. Two-time winner on the flat in 2012.
Bodie Island. 2008 dk. b. or br. g., Kafwain—Sweet Carolina, by Deputy Minister. Owner: The Elkstone Group. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Danielle Hodsdon. 2013 record: 3-0-0-1, $5,100. 2012 record: 4-1-1-0, $19,500. Maiden winner at 2012 Saratoga Open House finished third in Radnor’s Thompson Memorial allowance hurdle on May 18 before fifth in Parx Racing optional allowance on June 25.
Dr. Skip. 2008 ch. g., Eddington—Mz. Ann, by Citidancer. Owner: Clorevia Farm. Trainer: Edward Graham. Jockey: Jody Petty. 2013 record: 2-2-0-0, $33,000. Won hurdles debut by 2 1/2 lengths at Radnor Hunt Races on May 18 before seven-length score in Parx Racing optional allowance on June 25. Won four races on the flat in 2012.