A highly competitive field will line up Saturday for the $35,000 Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle, the signature race of the 51st annual Atlanta Steeplechase in Kingston. First post time for the five-race program is 1:30 p.m.
The field includes one champion, DASH Stable’s Ice It, last year’s leading three-year-old who will be striving to establish his credentials in open company. The regally bred, headstrong Tapit gelding sealed his three-year-old title with a victory in the Gladstone at Far Hills, N.J., last fall. Champion trainer Jack Fisher will put Sean Flanagan in the saddle.
Fisher also will send out Gil Johnston’s Miguel Grau, an impressive winner of a Parx Racing allowance hurdle last July who subsequently finished third in a Saratoga Race Course allowance and seventh in the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills. Gus Dahl has the mount.
Trainer Leslie Young will saddle Sharon Sheppard’s Comanchero, winner of his only start over fences last year. Rhys Flint will ride the Irish-bred gelding.
Irv Naylor, who established an earnings record for owners last year, will be represented by Tubal, winner of a Virginia Gold Cup maiden hurdle last May. Carol-Ann Sloan will ride for trainer Kevin Tobin.
Bill Pape’s Powerofone will be attempting to regain his power in the two-mile Georgia Cup. Trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, Powerofone finished second in a Montpelier Hunt Races Ratings Handicap last November. Gerard Galligan will ride.
Over Creek Stables’ Arrakis will be starting with a $25,000 claiming price under the race conditions. Trained by Julie Gomena, Arrakis finished fourth in the David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) at the International Gold Cup last fall. Mark Watts has the mount.
Here is the field for the $35,000 Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Miguel Grau. 2010 b. g., City Zip—Zuri Ridge, by Cox’s Ridge. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Gus Dahl. Breeder: Sea Horse Breeders (Ky.) 2015 record: 6-1-1-1, $34,200. 4-1 odds. Finished third in a 2015 Saratoga allowance hurdle, then was seventh in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. First-year hurdler broke through for a 10 1/2-length victory in a Parx maiden hurdle after second at Iroquois Steeplechase. (113)
Kingofalldiamonds. 2010 dk. b. or br. g., Giant’s Causeway—Queenofalldiamonds, by Kingmambo. Owner: Noble Stables. Trainer: Neil R. Morris. Jockey: Jacob Roberts. Breeder: Live Oak Stud (Fla.) 2015 record: 2-0-0-0, $2,550. 20-1 odds. Had two fifth-place finishes in 2015 at Middleburg Spring and Virginia Gold Cup. Won maiden victory in 2014 at Middleburg Spring. (111)
Arrakis. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Royal Academy—Quinn, by Theatrical (Ire). Owner: Over Creek Farm. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Mark Watts. Breeder: Iron County Farms (Ky.). 2015 record: 8-0-2-1, $15,550. 2014 record: No starts. 15-1 odds. Finished fourth in International Gold Cup’s David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) on Oct. 24, then fourth in Charleston Cup. Second in Virginia Fall Ratings Handicap after refusing to start in Monmouth allowance hurdle. Returned to the races after missing 2014 season and finished third in Aiken Spring optional allowance hurdle, then was second in Foxfield Spring’s Daniel Van Clief optional allowance hurdle. (118)
Comanchero (Ire). 2011 b. g., Comacho—Trempjane, by Lujain. Owner: Sharon Sheppard. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Rhys Flint. Breeder: Yeomantown Stud (Ire). 2015 record: 1-1-0-0, $12,000. 2-1 odds. In first start over fences, won a $20,000 maiden hurdle at 2015 Shawan Downs meet. (116)
Tubal. 2010 b. g., Shakespeare–Lady Nadine, by Alzao. Owner Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kevin Tobin. Jockey: Carol-Ann Sloan. Breeder: Lady Olivia of North Cliff (Va.). 2016 record: 1-0-0-1, $7,500. 2015 record: 4-1-1-1, $43,750. 6-1 odds. Finished third in 2016 Carolina Cup. Won maiden hurdle impressively at 2015 Virginia Gold Cup, finished second in Fair Hill Ratings Handicap, and was fourth in a Saratoga allowance hurdle. (117)
Dino Mite (GB). 2011 b. m., Doctor Dino—Compose, by Anabaa. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Michael Byrne. Breeder: J. Cunningham (GB). 2015 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $900. 8-1 odds. In first U.S. start, finished sixth in Colonial Cup’s Springdale Stakes. Promising import had three hurdle victories in spring of 2015 and was fourth in handicap hurdle before transfer to U.S. (115)
Dream Voyage. 2011 gr. or ro. g., Mizzen Mast—Stage Dream, by Theatrical (Ire). Owner: Manown Kiser Jr. Trainer: Michael Berryman. Jockey: Richard Boucher. Breeder: Bertram and Diana Firestone (Va.) 2015 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $9,000. 20-1 odds. In first two starts over fences, won a 2015 Charleston Cup maiden claimer after being pulled up in an Aiken Fall maiden claimer. (105).
Ice It. (111) 2012 gr. or ro. g., Tapit—Spice Island, by Tabasco Cat. Owner: DASH Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean Flanagan. Breeder: Qatar Bloodstock (Ky.) 3-1-0-0, $18,600. 8-1 odds. Won Far Hills’ Gladstone Hurdle to lock up 2015 three-year-old championship. Fell on the flat in Colonial Cup’s Raymond G. Woolfe Memorial. (111)
Powerofone. 2009 b. g., A.P. Indy—Byzantine, by Quiet American. Owner: Bill Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Elkhorn Creek Farm (Ky.) 2015 record: 6-0-1-0, $4,350. 2014 record: 3-0-0-0, $0. 10-1 odds. Finished second in Montpelier handicap and was pulled up in Colonial Cup Ratings Handicap at end of 2015 season. (114)