All the Way Jose and Modem, year-long rivals at the top level of steeplechase racing, will clash again Thursday in Saratoga Race Course’s $175,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial Handicap (Gr. 1). The 2 1/16-mile Smithwick will be the first race on Saratoga’s card, with a 1 p.m. post time.
In all, Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose and Robert Kinsley’s Modem have met five times, all in Grade 1 races. All the Way Jose owns one victory, in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) last fall.
In all their other starts, Modem has finished ahead of his rival, albeit by only a nose in last October’s Grand National (Gr. 1) at the Far Hills Races. Modem, who made his U.S. debut in last summer’s Smithwick Memorial, has finished second in all of his American starts.
In their most recent match-up, Modem finished second in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) on May 19, and All the Way Jose fell in midrace. Trainer Elizabeth Voss named Jack Doyle to ride Modem, who carries the Smithwick Memorial’s 156-pound highweight.
All the Way Jose, trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, will be ridden by Ross Geraghty. The eight-year-old, who was bred by his trainer, will carry 154 pounds.
Sheppard, who currently leads the trainer standings by wins, also will saddle Hudson River Stables’ Iranistan, a four-year-old who has won his three steeplechase starts while never being headed. A recent winner on the flat, Iranistan will be ridden by Darren Nagle, who has been aboard him for all of his jumps starts.
Also unbeaten this year is Magalen O. Bryant’s Personal Start, who runs on or near the lead. The seven-year-old Jump Start gelding won the Carolina Cup for novices in March and came back to take the Virginia Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) by eight lengths on May 5. Trainer Richard Valentine named Barry Foley to a return ride.
Trainer Jack Fisher will saddle Woodslane Farm’s Overwhelming, who is seeking to regain his form after missing the 2017 season. In his only hurdle start this year, the eight-year-old Hard Spun gelding finished seventh in the Fair Hill Races’ Valentine Memorial ratings handicap on May 26. Sean McDermott will ride.
An intriguing newcomer for the Smithwick is Promanco Ltd.’s Oskar Denarius, a five-time handicap winner over fences in England for up-and-coming trainer Ben Pauling. Tom Garner will ride.
Completing the field is Mark W. Buyck Jr.’s Show Court, who won last summer’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes at Saratoga. He was unplaced in his two jumps starts since then, both in Grade 1 races. Trainer Arch Kingsley Jr. named Michael Mitchell to ride.
Here is the field for the $175,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). The horses’ handicap weights are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Iranistan. 2014 dk. b. or br. g., Einstein (Brz)—Miss Vindictive, by Stephen Got Even. Owner: Hudson River Stables. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Crossed Sabres Farm (Ky.) 2018 NSA record: 3-3-0-0, $96,000. Won 2018 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices by six lengths. Skipped maiden ranks and won allowance hurdles at Carolina Cup and Middleburg Spring to begin 2018 season. Scored maiden flat victory at Delaware Park in July 2018. (143)
Modem (GB). 2010 b. g., Motivator—Alashaan, (GB), by Darshaan (GB). Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeders: Mr. and Mrs. D. J. Deer (GB). 2018 record: 1-0-1-0, $36,000. 2017 NSA record: 4-0-4-0, $153,000. Opened 2018 with second in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Finished second in four 2017 Grade 1 races: Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial and New York Turf Writers Cup; Belmont’s Lonesome Glory Handicap; and Grand National (Gr. 1). Arrived in U.S. after allowance victory in provincial Irish track Ballinrobe. Durable gelding has seven wins in 47 career starts. (156)
Oskar Denarius (Ire). 2011 b. g., Authorized (Ire)—Elizabethan Age, by King’s Best. Owner: Promanco Ltd. Trainer: Ben Pauling. Jockey: Tom Garner. Breeder: River Downs Stud (Ire). 2018 NSA record: No starts. Heads to U.S. after unplaced finish in handicap hurdle at Uttoxeter. Had three straight wins this spring in modest handicaps at Southwell, Worcester, and Newton Abbot. (136)
All the Way Jose. 2010 b. g., Senor Swinger—Maternity Leave, by Northern Baby. Owner: Buttonwood Farm. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Jonathan Sheppard (Pa.) 2018 record: 2-0-0-0, $ 3,750. 2017 record: 7-2-1-3, $179,300. Began 2018 with third in Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2) at Middleburg Spring, then fell in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Won 2017 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Finished third in Grand National (Gr. 1), beaten two noses. Won Fair Hill’s $40,000 Valentine Memorial ratings handicap by 15 1/4 lengths, then lost rider in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and was third in New York Turf Writers (Gr. 1). Novice champion in 2014. (154)
Overwhelming. 2010 b. g., Hard Spun—Oh What a Windfall, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Woodslane Farm. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Phipps Stable (Ky.) 2018 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $16,500. Returned to the races after missing 2017 season and won Tryon Block House allowance hurdle before sixth in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial ratings handicap. Finished fifth in Saratoga’s 2016 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Won Steeplechase at Callaway’s 2015 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle and Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. (138)
Personal Start. 2011 dk. b. or br. g., Jump Start—Personal Doreen, by Personal Flag. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Barry Foley. Breeder: Magalen O. Bryant (Ky.) 2018 record: 2-2-0-0, $90,000. 2017 record: 6-1-1-2, $46,750. Won Virginia Gold Cup’s 2018 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) by eight lengths after victory in Carolina Cup novice stakes. Won 2017 International Gold Cup allowance hurdle by eight lengths. Finished third in 2017 Saratoga allowance hurdle, then was second in Shawan Downs handicap and fourth in Virginia Fall’s Randolph D. Rouse Memorial Handicap. (146)
Show Court (Ire). 2009 b. g., Vinnie Roe—Sparking Gem, by Revoque. Owner: Mark W. Buyck Jr. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Grange Stud (Ire). 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $4,500. 2017 NSA record: 5-2-1-0, $112,000. Finished sixth in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) after chasing winning pacesetter. Finished sixth in Saratoga’s 2017 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) after winning Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Won 2017 Carolina Cup by seven lengths, then finished second in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Finished distant fifth in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. Won maiden over hurdles in Ireland in late 2015. (144)