A competitive $65,000 allowance hurdle on Wednesday kicks off Saratoga Race Course’s schedule of nine steeplechase races, and Rosbrian Farm’s talented newcomer Markhan will be the horse to watch.
The 2 1/16-mile race over National Fences will be Saratoga’s first race, with a special 12:50 p.m. post time for the days featuring jump races.
Markhan made his U.S. debut at the Iroquois Steeplechase on May 11 and won a maiden hurdle by 4 ½ lengths for top Irish trainer Gordon Elliott. The six-year-old Kentucky-bred previously had had considerable success on the flat, with three handicap victories over the 2018-2019 Irish season.
Turned over to trainer Ricky Hendriks, Markhan showed off his flat abilities at Parx Racing on July 1 when he easily won a 1½-mile turf flat race for hurdlers. Davy Russell, the Irish champion jockey who rode Markhan at the Iroquois meet in Nashville, has the mount on Wednesday.
Jack Fisher, who is running away with the year’s trainer championships, will take two shots at the allowance hurdle with Whitman’s Poetry and Cite.
Whitman’s Poetry, owned by DASH Stable, has been knocking at the door of an allowance win through the spring, with a third at the Carolina Cup in March and second-place finishes at the Queen’s Cup in April and Iroquois in May.
In the Nashville race, Whitman’s Poetry finished strongly to take the place spot, a half-length behind highly regarded Sportswear.
The Tiznow gelding set the pace in the first division of Parx’s flat races for hurdlers and finished second to Rosbrian’s Optimus Prime, currently the sport’s top-rated hurdler. That division went three seconds faster than the heat won by Markhan.
Michael Mitchell, who has ridden several of Fisher’s 24 winners in the current season and comfortably leads the jockey standings, has the mount on Whitman’s Poetry.
Willie McCarthy will be aboard Gill Johnston’s Cite, who had fourth-place finishes in his first two jump starts this year before a fall in Iroquois’ allowance hurdle.
Also coming out of that race are Repeat Repeat and Renown. Bon Nouvel Chasers’ Repeat Repeat finished third after a bad stumble two fences from the finish line. Trainer Julie Gomena named Kieran Norris to ride.
Merriebelle Stable’s Renown also stumbled in the Iroquois race and dislodged jockey Jack Doyle, who returns in the saddle on Wednesday for trainer Elizabeth Voss.
Meriwether Morris will saddle lightly raced Gaye Breeze, who carries the silks of her Petticoats Loose Farm. The Irish-bred six-year-old has made all four of his sanctioned starts this year and won a Fair Hill maiden hurdle on May 25. Thomas Garner has the mount.
Trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s and Vince Bonanni’s Zeppelin Ride will be seeking his first placing of the year after a maiden win at last fall’s Montpelier Hunt Races in Virginia. The Tiznow five-year-old was pulled up at the Carolina Cup on March 30 and fell in a Foxfield Spring ratings handicap in April. Gerard Galligan will ride.
Lee Potoik’s homebred Roller Rolls On finished third in a Radnor Hunt Races allowance hurdle on May 18. Trainer Doug Fout named Sean McDermott to ride the four-year-old Lemon Drop Kid gelding.
Here is the field for the $65,000 allowance hurdle for horses who have not won two races over fences. Their National Steeplechase Association ratings are at the end of their profiles.
Gaye Breeze (Ire). 2013 b. g., Getaway (Ger)—Railway House, by Ashkalani. Owner: Petticoats Loose Farm. Trainer: Meriwether Morris. Jockey: Thomas Garner. Breeder: Ballyreddin Stud (Ire). 2019 record: 4-1-0-1, $21,000. Won Fair Hill maiden hurdle in his third career start, all in 2019. Finished third at Carolina Cup in his debut. (116)
Roller Rolls On. 2015 b. g., Lemon Drop Kid—Classofsixtythree, by Include. Owner: Lee Pokoik. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Lee Pokoik (Ky.) 2018 NSA record: 3-1-1-0, $21,000. Finished third in 2019 Radnor allowance hurdle. In first start over fences, won 2018 Shawan Downs maiden hurdle for three-year-olds. Finished second in Far Hills’ 2018 Gladstone Stakes. (110)
Markhan. 2013 b. g., Birdstone—Royal Flush, by Smart Strike. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Davy Russell. Breeders. Dr. Lawrence Opas, Dr. John Jain, and Dr. Frank Sinatra (Ky.) Repatriated for 2019 Iroquois maiden hurdle and drew clear to a 4 ½-length victory. Had six wins on the flat in Ireland for trainer Gordon Elliott. (116)
Repeat Repeat. 2014 dk. b. or br. g., Arch—Dattt Echo, by Stormy Atlantic. Owner: Bon Nouvel Chasers. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Dattt Farm (Ky.) Won his steeplechase debut by a neck at the 2019 Carolina Cup, and then was third in tough allowance hurdle at Iroquois after setting early pace. Had four consecutive first-place finishes on flat in 2018. (116)
Renown (GB). 2011 ch. g., Champs Elysees (GB)—Fame At Last, by Quest for Fame (GB). Owner: Merribelle Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Juddmonte Farms (GB). 2019 record: 2-0-1-0, $6,300. 2018 NSA record: 2-1-0-1, $27,000. Began 2019 with second in Middleburg Spring allowance hurdle before stumbling and losing jockey at Iroquois. Won maiden hurdle victory at 2019 International Gold Cup. Won Virginia Gold Cup’s 2018 Secretariat Stakes on the flat. (119)
Whitman’s Poetry. 2011 b. g., Tiznow—Tustarta, by Trempolino. Owner: DASH Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Edward A. Cox Jr. (Ky.). 2019 NSA record: 3-0-2-1, $17,900. 2018 NSA record: 3-0-2-0, $17,650. Finished third in 2019 Carolina Cup allowance hurdle before second-place finishes at Queen’s Cup and Iroquois. Second in 2018 Queen’s Cup ratings handicap and Iroquois allowance hurdle before fourth in at Saratoga. Won his maiden hurdle victory at 2017 Far Hills meet. Finished third in 2016 Laurel Turf Cup. (119)
Zeppelin Ride. 2014 dk. b. or br. g., Tiznow—Gold Dust, by Forest Wildcat. Owner: Jonathan Sheppard and Vincent Bonnani. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Doug and Felicia Branham (Ky.) 2019 record: 2-0-0-0, $0. 2018 record: 8-1-1-0, $26,570. In first 2019 start, pulled up in Carolina Cup allowance hurdle, then fell at Foxfield Spring. Scored maiden victory at 2018 Montpelier Hunt Races. (113)
Cite. 2013 b. g., Blame—Cross, by Mighty. Owner: Gillian Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeders: Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider (Ky.) 2019 record: 3-0-0-0, $3,500. 2018 record: 4-1-1-0, $29,400. Began 2019 with two fourth-place finishes at Carolina Cup and Middleburg Spring before fall at Iroquois Steeplechase. Won 2018 Iroquois maiden hurdle after second in his jump-racing debut in a maiden hurdle at the Queen’s Cup. (116)