With an explosive move down Saratoga Race Course’s stretch, Petticoats Loose Farm’s Choral Society seized the lead and drew away to a stunning 16.20-to-1 upset in Thursday’s $125,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1).
Bill Pape’s Martini Brother, who like Choral Society tarried at the back of the six-horse field into the stretch the final time, closed ground to finish second, and prohibitive 1-to-2 favorite Demonstrative finished third.
Bob Le Beau, the second betting choice at 3.90-to-1, finished fourth, and early pacesetter Divine Fortune was fifth, a neck ahead of Diplomat, who led at the final fence. In all, 4 1/4 lengths separated the entire field.
Ridden by current leading jockey Paddy Young, Choral Society went off as the second-to-longest price in the top-rated Smithwick Memorial and paid $34.40 to win after running the 2 1/16-mile distance in 3:51.77 on a firm inner turf course.
Choral Society scored his first victory for leading trainer Jack Fisher, who took over his management after the 2014 season, in which the now six-year-old Florida-bred gelding by Holy Bull scored two victories.
Choral Society then was trained by Cyril Murphy, the principal trainer for leading owner Irv Naylor, and one of his victories was against Fisher. The trainer noted that “he beat me at Parx. I was a stone winner [with Easy Reach], and he came flying to beat me.” Choral Society won the Parx race in July 2014 by two lengths.
As expected, Pape’s Divine Fortune jumped out to the early lead in the Smithwick and held a four-length lead turning into the backstretch the first time, with Daybreak Stables’ Diplomat following his pace in second while Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s reigning Eclipse Award winner Demonstrative was third in company with The Fields Stable’s Bob Le Beau.
Divine Fortune, the 2013 Eclipse champion, led past the next to last fence under 2014 champion jockey Willie McCarthy. As he began to tire, Diplomat spurted away to a multi-length lead under Bernie Dalton. Robbie Walsh asked Demonstrative for his run after the next to last but did not receive the champion’s usual sharp response. “I was after him earlier than I expected,” Walsh said.
Young, the four-time champion jockey well known for taking the shortest path around the race course, rallied Choral Society along the inside and nearly was on even terms with Demonstrative as they jumped the last fence.
Choral Society quickly powered past a tiring Diplomat and opened a clear advantage to the finish line. Martini Brother, making his first start over fences in 16 months, made a sharp move under Darren Nagle to collect second money.
Under the Smithwick conditions, Choral Society carried 142 pounds, a weight that Young made with a little sweat. Demonstrative, the highweight under the allowance conditions, carried 158. “Sixteen pounds is a lot,” Fisher said.
With the win and its $75,000 first-place money, Young regained the ground he lost to challenger Jack Doyle a day earlier, when the Irish jockey won a $65,000 optional allowance aboard Naylor’s Gimme Five. Young now has 13 wins to nine for Doyle, who retained the lead in the money-earned standings.