Demonstrative and Divine Fortune, who dominated last year’s Grade 1 steeplechase races, have been nominated to square off again in Saratoga Race Course’s $125,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on Thursday, Aug. 6.
The Smithwick was the only 2014 Grade 1 race that the Eclipse Award champions did not win. Owned by Jacqueline Ohrstrom and trained by Richard Valentine, Demonstrative finished second by a nose in the 2 1/16-mile Smithwick and then reeled off victories in Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1), and the Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., to claim his Eclipse Award.
Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune, the 2013 Eclipse champion, won last year’s Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) at Nashville and the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) at Camden, S.C., to book-end his 2014 season, with Demonstrative in the beaten field in both races.
The two arch-rivals have met once this year, with Demonstrative gaining his second victory in the Iroquois and Divine Fortune picking up fourth money. Demonstrative subsequently won a flat race for hurdlers at Parx Racing on July 12.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, who trains Divine Fortune, also nominated Pape’s Martini Brother and Parker’s Project, owned by the Hudson River Farms of Albany developer Edward P. Swyer.
Martini Brother is coming back in from a long layoff and prepped in a division of the Parx flat race. Parker’s Project began the year with a victory in the David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) at the Virginia Gold Cup on May 2 and then finished third in the National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) at the Radnor Hunt Races in suburban Philadelphia two weeks later.
The National Hunt Cup winner, The Fields Stable’s Bob Le Beau, was nominated by trainer Elizabeth Voss, who achieved her first Grade 1 victory in last year’s Smithwick with Makari. Irish-bred Bob Le Beau remained unbeaten in 2015 by taking a division of the Parx flat race.
Jack Fisher, the year’s leading trainer by wins and earnings, nominated Petticoats Loose Farm’s Choral Society and Harold A. “Sonny” Via Jr.’s import Hinterland to the Smithwick. Choral Society was impeded while finishing fourth in the Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at Iroquois and was placed third. Hinterland formerly raced over steeplechase fences in England and would be making his U.S. debut.
Diplomat, winner of the Carolina Cup for novices in his U.S. debut, was nominated by trainer Jimmy Day. Owned by the trainer’s Daybreak Stables, Diplomat subsequently finished fifth in the Semmes and fourth behind Bob Le Beau in the Parx flat race.
Here are the nominees for the A. P. Smithwick, which honors the memory of the Racing Hall of Fame jockey who died in 1973.
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. Breeder: Anamoine Ltd. (Ire). 2015 record: 2-2-0-0, $45,000. 2014 record: 4-0-1-0, $9,450. Opened 2015 with win in National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) at Radnor Hunt Races in suburban Philadelphia on May 16 and won Parx flat race for hurdlers on July 12. Finished second in Virginia Fall’s 2014 W. Gary Baker Memorial, then was pulled up in David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) at International Gold Cup.
Choral Society. 2009 gr. or ro. g., Holy Bull—Star Singer, by Awesome Again. Owner: Petticoats Loose Farm. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Mayo West Farm and Liam Benson (Fla.) 2015 record: 2-0-0-1, $7,500. 2014 record: 6-2-1-1, $39,250. Finished fourth, placed third, in Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at Iroquois Steeplechase on May 9. Lost rider in Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase, his 2015 debut.
Demonstrative. 2007 b. g., Elusive Quality–Loving Pride, by Quiet American. Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Breeder: Gainsborough Farm (Ky.) 2015 record: 2-2-0-0, $105,000. 2014 record: 6-3-1-1, $362,500. Scored his second victory in the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) on May 9 and surged late to win flat race for hurdlers at Parx Racing on July 12. Secured 2014 Eclipse Award with consecutive Grade 1 victories in New York Turf Writers Cup, Lonesome Glory Handicap, and Grand National. Narrowly second in 2014 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr 1). Also won 2012 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) and Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). Was 2010 three-year-old champion.
Diplomat. 2009 b. g., Kitten’s Joy—Waki Affair, by Miswaki. Owner: Daybreak Stables. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Breeders: Ken and Sarah Ramsey (Ky.) 2015 record: 3-1-0-0, $49,250. 2014 NSA record: No starts. Began 2015 season with half-length victory in $75,000 Carolina Cup for novices, then finished fifth in David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) at Virginia Gold Cup on May 2 and fourth in Parx Racing flat race for hurdlers on July 12. Veteran competitor in Ireland for trainer Dermot Weld mixed hurdle racing with flat starts but was winless in eight outings in 2014. Bred by champion owners-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey and is a full brother to stakes-placed Kitten Love.
Divine Fortune. 2003 ch. g., Royal Anthem–My Tombola, by Northern Fling. Owner: William Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Breeders: Bill Pape and Jonathan Sheppard. 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $7,500. 2014 record: 5-2-1-0, $195,000. In only 2015 start, set early pace in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) in Nashville on May 9 and faded late to finish fourth. Eclipse Award winner in 2013 had two Grade 1 wins in 2014, in Iroquois and Colonial Cup at Camden, S.C. Secured Eclipse with brilliant victory in 2013 Grand National (Gr. 1).
Hinterland (Fr). 2008 b. g., Poliglote (GB)—Queen’s Place, by Diamond Prospect. Owner: Harold A. “Sonny” Via Jr. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Eric Aubree and Christian Bresson (Fr). 2014 NSA record: No starts. Making U.S. debut after modest success in England. Winless last year but finished third in Tingle Creek Steeplechase at Sandown. May benefit from faster ground in his new home.
Martini Brother. 2008 dk. b. or br. g., A.P. Indy—Island Sand, by Tabasco Cat. Owner: Bill Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $750. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,500. Making a comeback after more than a year on the sidelines. Won his first three races in 2013, including a victory in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes, and was one of the year’s top novices. Ran sixth in a flat race for hurdlers at Parx Racing on July 12.
Parker’s Project. 2006 dk. b. or br. g., Parker’s Storm Cat–Let’s Canoodle, by Oh Say. Owner: Hudson River Farms. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Breeder: Jonathan Sheppard (Pa.) 2015 record: 2-1-0-1, $50,000. 2014 record: 3-0-1-1, $55,000. Began 2015 campaign with neck victory in Virginia Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial on May 2, then finished third in National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) at Radnor Hunt Races two weeks later.