Champions Scorpiancer and Moscato, who helped to lift Bruton Street-US to the 2017 National Steeplechase Association owner title, head a select field of six for Saturday’s $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), the marquee race of the 78th annual Iroquois Steeplechase at Nashville’s Percy Warner Park.
The Calvin Houghland Iroquois, the NSA’s first Grade 1 race of the year, will conclude a seven-race program that includes two other stakes races, the Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices and the Margaret Currey Henley for fillies and mares. First post time is 1 p.m. CDT.
Scorpiancer conquered the Calvin Houghland Iroquois’ three miles in 2017, winning by 16 lengths, and was voted the year’s Eclipse Award as North America’s champion steeplechase horse.
He went to the sidelines after his Nashville victory and missed all of the 2018 season. He returned to the races on April 20 and was pulled up in the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2).
Moscato, the 2017 novice champion, also missed the 2018 season and returned with a 3½-length victory in the Temple Gwathmey in Middleburg, Va. He also has won at Percy Warner, where he scored a 6 ½-length victory in an allowance hurdle in 2017.
Champion trainer Jack Fisher named Sean McDermott to a return ride on Scorpiancer, and current leading jockey Michael Mitchell again will be aboard Moscato.
Fisher also entered a third Bruton Street-US contender, Jaleo, who finished third in the Temple Gwathmey, and Riverdee Stable’s Gibralfaro, winner of the Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase for novices on April 27 in North Carolina. Willie McCarthy will ride Jaleo, and Jack Doyle has the mount on Gibralfaro.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard entered Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose, a 2017 Grade 1 winner who finished fourth in the Temple Gwathmey. Thomas Garner will ride.
Completing the field is Wendy Hendriks’ Surprising Soul, a multiple stakes winner last year who began his 2019 season with a fourth-place finish in the Carolina Cup Handicap on March 30 in South Carolina. Ross Geraghty has the mount.
Here is the field for the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). All starters carry 158 pounds, and the horses’ NSA ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Jaleo (Ger). 2012 ch. g., New Approach (Ire)—Jambalaya (Ger), by Samum (Ger). Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Gestut Karlshof (Ger). 2019 record: 1-0-0-1, $7,500. 2018 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $18,000. Opened 2019 with third in Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Finished fifth in 2018 Grand National (Gr. 1) after setting early pace. Had been racing well in moderate allowance steeplechases in England for up-and-coming trainer Ben Pauling. (134)
Moscato (GB). 2011 gr. or ro. g., Hernando (Fr)—Alba Stella, by Nashwan. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Miss K. Rausing (GB). 2019 record: 1-1-0-0, $45,000. 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: 6-4-2-0, $156,000. Novice champion of 2017 returned from a year on the sidelines and won the 2019 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Won Belmont Park’s 2017 William Entenmann Novice Stakes and Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes impressively after strong closing second in Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Won Queen’s Cup maiden by 7 1/4 lengths and Iroquois allowance hurdle by 6 1/2 lengths. (143)
Scorpiancer (Ire). 2009 b. g., Scorpion (Ire)—Janebailey, By Silver Patriarch. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Mary O’Connor (Ire). 2019 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: 2-2-0-0, $150,000. Missed 2018 season and was pulled up in his first 2019 start, the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Claimed 2017 Eclipse Award with victories in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) and Temple Gwathmey. Won Belmont Park’s 2016 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). (149)
Gibralfaro. (Ire). 2012 b. g., Dalakhani (Ire)—Ronda, by Bluebird. Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Sarl Darpat France (Ire). 2019 record: 1-1-0-0, $60,000. 2018 record: 5-1-3-0, $77,250. Opened 2019 with victory in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase for novices. Finished second in Far Hills’ 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division and Aflac Supreme Hurdle. Finished second in Iroquois’ 2018 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices, then was sixth in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. Set pressured pace and won 2018 Tryon Block House allowance hurdle. (135)
All the Way Jose. 2010 b. g., Senor Swinger—Maternity Leave, by Northern Baby. Owner: Buttonwood Farm. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Thomas Garner. Breeder: Jonathan Sheppard (Pa.) 2019 record: 1-0-0-0, $3,750. 2018 record: 6-0-0-1, $ 68,200. 2017 record: 7-2-1-3, $179,300. In 2019 debut, finished fourth in the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Finished second in 2018 Noel Laing Handicap at Montpelier Hunt Races. Finished third in 2018 Grand National Gr. 1) for second straight year, after fifth in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and sixth in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) at Saratoga. Began 2018 with fourth in Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2) at Middleburg Spring, then fell in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Won 2017 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). (134)
Surprising Soul. 2012 b. g., Perfect Soul (Ire)—Elusive Surprise, by Elusive Quality. Owner: Wendy W. Hendriks. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Charles Fipke (Ont.) 2019 record: 1-0-0-0, $2,500. 2018 record: 3-2-1-0, $97,500. 2017 record: 7-3-0-1, $106,500. Finished fourth in Carolina Cup Handicap, his 2019 debut. Won Saratoga’s 2018 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes, then was second in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division. Opened 2018 with dominant victory in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3). (129)