The Fields Stable’s Bob Le Beau closed stoutly on Saratoga Race Course’s final turn, took the lead when pacesetter Divine Fortune fell at the last fence, and drew away to an easy victory in Thursday’s $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1).
Divine Fortune sustained a fatal fractured left humerus in the fall. Jockey Darren Nagle was uninjured in the incident.
Edith Dixon’s Schoodic, a winner at Saratoga last year, ran on to finish second, 7 1/4 lengths behind Bob Le Beau, and Irv Naylor’s Charminster took third in a star-studded field on 10 veteran steeplechase horses. Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s 2.20-to-1 favorite Demonstrative, the reigning Eclipse champion who won last year’s New York Turf Writers, never fired and was pulled up before the final fence.
Ridden by Jack Doyle, Bob Le Beau went off as the 6.20-to-1 third betting choice and ran the New York Turf Writers’ 2 3/8 in 4:35.09 on firm turf.
An eight-year-old Irish-bred trained by Elizabeth Voss, Bob Le Beau has shown a preference for longer distances. He won the Radnor Hunt Races’ National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) at the same distance on May 16 before finishing fourth, beaten 3 1/4 lengths, in Saratoga’s $125,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) at 2 1/16 miles on Aug. 6.
“We thought he might like the longer trip,” said Voss, who took over the stable of her late father, top trainer Tom Voss, early last year and won her first Grade 1 race in the 2014 Smithwick Memorial. “My dad won this race in 1996, and we still have Petroski out in the meadow” at the Voss family’s Maryland farm.
Nagle sent Divine Fortune to the lead from the start, and the 12-year-old set a steady pace with Gil Johnston’s Syros and owner-trainer David Jacobson’s All Together close behind him.
Doyle said he was farther back earlier than he wanted, next to last after the first mile. “I couldn’t believe how easy he was going,” said Doyle, an Ireland-based jockey who is riding the 2015 National Steeplechase Association season in the U.S. “I probably didn’t want to be as far back as he was, but he settled and seemed happy.”
Bob Le Beau improved his position as Demonstrative slipped to the back of the field. Seventh after the last fence, Bob Le Beau launched his assault on the final turn.
On the inside leaving the final turn, Bob Le Beau was tipped out approaching the final fence and was surging as he jumped the last. Nagle said Divine Fortune attempted to put in an extra step before the last and struck the fence.
Accepting the New York Turf Writers trophy was Laddy Merck, now the sole owner of The Fields Stable after the death of his mother, Betty Merck, earlier in the year.
Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune, bred by the owner and trainer Jonathan Sheppard, was the 2013 Eclipse Award winner. He won three Grade 1 races, including two last year, and had career earnings of $813,890 over fences.