Clarke Ohrstrom’s Kisser N Run, the reigning Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare champion, heads a strong field of female competitors for the $30,000 Georgia Cup, the featured stakes race of the 49th annual Atlanta Steeplechase on Saturday, April 19. First post time at Kingston Downs is 1:30 p.m.
Kisser N Run won her two major starts in the fall, the Peapack Stakes at Far Hills, N.J., and the Crown Royal Stakes at the Steeplechase at Callaway in Pine Mountain, Ga., to secure her title.
Trainer Richard Valentine named Robbie Walsh to ride Kisser N Run.
Jack Fisher, currently sharing the champion trainer title with Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, entered Arcadia Stable’s pairing of Take Her Tothe Top and Opera Heroine. Take Her Tothe Top won last summer’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps Stakes, a race that Opera Heroine had won in 2011. (Take Her Tothe Top was scratched on Friday, April 18.)
Last fall, Opera Heroine finished second to Kisser N Run in the Peapack, and Take Her Tothe Top took the second spot in the Crown Royal. Jeff Murphy will ride Opera Heroine.
Sheppard will be represented by Sully’s Approach, owned by Bill Pape. A runaway maiden winner, she finished fourth in the Crown Royal. Bernie Dalton has the mount.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Janet Elliot entered her Hiwasee Gem, who ran a gem of a race in winning a Carolina Cup maiden hurdle for fillies and mares by more than 20 lengths. Harry Haynes again will be in the saddle.
Irvin S. Naylor, a three-time champion owner, nominated Bittersweetheart and Cordillera. Trained by Leslie Young, Bittersweetheart was third in the 2013 Crown Royal. Cordillera, now trained by Cyril Murphy, is coming back after missing the 2013 season.
Who do you like in the $30,000 Georgia Cup?
Sully’s Approach. 2009 dk. b. or br. filly, Partner’s Hero—Push My Luck, by Press Card. Owner: Bill Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2013 record: 3-1-0-0, $7,000. Finished fourth in Steeplechase at Callaway’s Crown Royal in final 2013 start. 10-1 odds. Apparently confused in first start over fences at Fair Hill in May, filly co-bred by Pape and Sheppard sailed to a 19-length win in maiden claimer at Virginia Fall on Oct. 5.
Flying Friskie. 2007 b. m., Touch ‘n’ Fly (Ire)—Acting Friskie, by Horatius. Owner: Marilyn Ketts. Trainer: Lilith Boucher. Jockey: Richard Boucher. 2013 record: 4-0-1-0, $5,100. 2012 record: No starts. 10-1 odds. Finished fourth in 2013 Georgia Cup at Atlanta Steeplechase before second against males in the Block House at Tryon, N.C. Distanced in Iroquois’ Margaret Currey Henley and fifth in $25,000 James M. Moran open claimer at Radnor Hunt Races. Missed entire 2012 season after sixth in the 2011 Valentine Memorial at Fair Hill, Md. Has two claiming wins to her credit.
Opera Heroine. 2004 b. m., Partner’s Hero–Soap Opera, by Theatrical (Ire). Owner: Arcadia Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Jeff Murphy. 2013 NSA record: 4-0-1-0, $20,750. 2012 record: 2-0-1-1, $13,700. 2011 record: 6-2-1-0, $58,200. 10-1 odds. Ran a strong race in Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes and finished second, beaten a half-length, before setting early pace and finishing fifth in Steeplechase at Callaway’s Crown Royal. Winner of 2011 Mrs. Ogden Phipps finished sixth in this year’s edition and was fifth in Saratoga’s Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords. Mrs. Phipps was her first start since a second in Fair Hill’s 2012 Valentine Memorial.
Kisser N Run. 2008 b. m., Pleasant Tap—Firm Kiss, by Atticus. Owner: Clarke Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. 2013 record: 6-2-2-0, $95,400. 2012 NSA record: 3-2-0-0, $55,600. 3-1 odds. Claimed the 2013 Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare Champion award with late-season wins in Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes and the Steeplechase at Callaway’s Crown Royal. Finished fourth in Saratoga’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps before eighth in Saratoga’s Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords. Has two second-place finishes in 2013, in Georgia Cup at Atlanta Steeplechase and Margaret Currey Henley at Iroquois Steeplechase on May 11. Won Far Hills’ 2012 Peapack Stakes for new owner and trainer after maiden score at Foxfield Fall Races.
Bittersweetheart (GB). 2007 b. m., Storming Home (GB)—Cruz Santa, by Lord Bud (Ire). Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: T. Carroll. 2013 NSA record: 2-0-0-1, $5,000. 10-1 odds. Finished third in Steeplechase at Callaway’s Crown Royal Stakes after eighth in Peapack Stakes at Far Hills, her U.S. debut. Had been running successfully in hurdle allowances at smaller British tracks, including win at Southwell in August 2013.
Hiwasee Gem. 2007 b. m., Cetewayo–Northern Wood, by Northern Baby. Owner-Trainer: Janet Elliot. Jockey: Harry Haynes. 2014 record: 1-1-0-0, $12,000. 6-1 odds. After tuning up in flat start at Aiken Spring, won a Carolina Cup maiden hurdle for fillies and mares by 28 3/4 lengths. Bred by Elliot and Gil Johnston.
Cordillera (GB). 2008 ch. f., Araafa—Alexander Celebre (Ire), by Pientre Celebre. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Danielle Hodsdon. 2013 record: No starts. 2012 NSA record: 3-0-1-1, $21,250. 8-1 odds. In most recent start, third in the 2012 Crown Royal at the Steeplechase at Callaway. Finished second in Far Hills’ 2012 Peapack Stakes after fourth in her American debut, the $75,000 Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Filly and Mare Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.
Take Her Tothe Top. 2008 dk. b. or br. m., More Than Ready—Ceiling, by Boundary. Owner: Arcadia Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Open. 2013 record: 7-1-3-1, $70,650. 2012 record: No NSA starts. 4-1 odds. Scratched on Friday, April 18. Finished second in Steeplechase at Callaway’s Crown Royal Stakes after fourth in Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes. Drew away to a 3 1/4-length victory in Saratoga’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps on Aug. 8 as lesser half of favored 2.95-1 entry, then was third in Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Stakes.