The Fields Stable’s Bob Le Beau completed the circuit of the New York Racing Association’s Grade 1 steeplechase races earlier this month, and on Thursday he will bid for his second straight victory in Saratoga Race Course’s $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1).
The 2 3/8-mile New York Turf Writers is the crown jewel of Saratoga’s steeplechase lineup, and the Irish-bred will be shooting for a rare back-to-back score. The New York Turf Writers is Thursday’s first race with a 1 p.m. post time.
Trained by Elizabeth Voss, Bob Le Beau comes into the New York Turf Writers from a facile one-length victory in the $125,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on Aug. 4. The Smithwick win gave him an unprecedented sweep of NYRA’s three top-rated steeplechase races over a 12-month period. He also won Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) last September.
Jack Doyle, Bob Le Beau’s regular jockey, will again ride the nine-year-old Irish-bred. Voss also will saddle The Fields’ Portrade, who set the early pace in the Smithwick and held on well to finish third under regular jockey Gus Dahl.
Bob Le Beau will carry 162 pounds and will concede 12 pounds to Bruton Street US’s Scorpiancer, who showed tenacity in finishing second in the Smithwick. Trainer Jack Fisher named Connor Hankin to ride the Irish-bred, who is looking for his first win of the year.
Fisher, the National Steeplechase Association’s reigning champion trainer, also will saddle Edith Dixon’s Schoodic, who finished sixth in the Smithwick after winning the Radnor Hunt Races’ National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) on May 21. Sean McDermott will ride.
Champion owner Irv Naylor will be represented by Charminster, who finished second to Schoodic in the National Hunt Cup after winning the Virginia Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) two weeks earlier.
Cyril Murphy, Charminster’s trainer, is tied with Fisher at the top of this year’s leader board by wins (13) with a 47% win percentage. Regular jockey Ross Geraghty will be aboard Irish-bred Charminster.
Paddy Young, the reigning champion jockey now coming back from a hard fall at Parx Racing in July, will be aboard Ballybristol Farm’s Andi’amu for his wife, trainer Leslie Young. The French-bred most recently finished fourth in a Saratoga overnight handicap on Aug. 3 after winning a Monmouth Park Ratings Handicap in June.
Here is the field for the 2 3/8-mile New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap. The horses’ handicap weights are in parentheses at the end of each profile.
Andi’amu (Fr). 2010 b. g., Walk In The Park—Sainte Parfaite, by Septieme Ciel. Owner: Ballybristol Farm. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Paddy Young. Breeder: Therese Bouche (Fr). 2016 record: 4-1-1-0, $32,800. 2015 NSA record: 4-1-3-0, $56,400. Won Monmouth Park Ratings Handicap, then was fourth in Saratoga handicap. Finished fifth in Middleburg Spring’s 2016 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3), then was second in Iroquois Ratings Handicap. Won Montpelier’s Noel Laing, a Ratings Handicap. Finished second in first three U.S. starts. (144)
Charminster (Ire). 2006 b. g., Broadway Flyer—Monteleena, by Montelimar. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Raymond Cahalane (Ire). 2016 record: 2-1-1-0, $54,000. 2015 record: 5-1-0-1, $63,500. Charged to 3 3/4-length win in 2016 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) at Virginia Gold Cup, then was second in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 2). Finished sixth in Grand National (Gr. 1). Finished third in Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) on Aug. 27, then fourth in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Sept. 24. Won Ratings Handicap at Iroquois Steeplechase on May 9. (148)
Bob Le Beau (Ire). 2007 dk. b. or. br. g., Big Bad Bob—Shine Silently, by Bering (GB). Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Anamoine Ltd. (Ire). 2016 NSA record: 1-1-0-0, $75,000. 2015 NSA record: 5-3-0-0, $220,250. 2014 record: 4-0-1-0, $9,450. Opened 2016 jumps campaign with win in Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Won Belmont Park’s 2015 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) by a half-length after runaway victory in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Finished fourth in 2015 Smithwick Memorial. Won 2015 National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) at Radnor Hunt Races. (162)
Scorpiancer (Ire). 2009 b. g., Scorpion (Ire)—Janebailey, By Silver Patriarch. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Connor Hankin. Breeder: Mary O’Connor (Ire). 2016 record: 4-0-3-0, $49,600. 2015 NSA record: 2-2-0-0, $75,000. Finished good second in Saratoga’s 2016 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Finished second in Middleburg Spring’s 2016 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3), then fourth in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Finished second in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial Ratings Handicap. Won 2015 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. (150)
Portrade (Ire). 2009 b. g., Trade Fair (GB)—Portorosa, by Irish River (Fr). Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Gus Dahl. Breeder: Keene Bloodstock (Ire). 2016 record: 2-0-0-1, $14,300. 2015 record: 2-0-0-0, $2,500. 2014 NSA record: No starts. Set pace in Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and stayed well for third. Opened 2016 with fifth in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial Ratings Handicap. Finished fourth in Radnor’s 2015 National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) after fall in Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase for novices. In final 2014 starts in Ireland, won Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle at Listowel and then was second in a handicap hurdle at Tipperary. (142)
Schoodic. 2010 b. g., Tiznow—Aunt Henny, by Hennessy. Owner: Edith R. Dixon. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Edith R. Dixon (Ky.) 2016 record: 4-1-2-0, $52,650. 2015 record: 4-0-2-2, $58,000. 2014 record: 6-2-0-1, $67,500. Won Radnor’s 2016 National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3), then was sixth in Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Finished second in 2016 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) and Middleburg Spring Ratings Handicap. Finished third in Belmont Park’s 2015 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes and in Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills. Kicked off 2015 season with second in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase near Charlotte, N.C., then was second in Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). (146)