The top three finishers from Foxfield Spring’s Van Clief Memorial optional allowance hurdle will line up again in the High Hope Steeplechase’s featured $25,000 optional allowance hurdle on Sunday. First post time for the four-race program at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Ky., is 1:30 p.m.
Bruce Smart’s Orchestra Leader came out on top in the Van Clief by five lengths on April 25, and he looks to be the horse to beat in a crowded field for the 2 1/8-mile High Hope race that attracted a full field of 10 and four also-eligibles. Orchestra Leader is trained by Jimmy Day in Virginia.
Over Creek Stables’ Arrakis took the second spot, and Virginia-based trainer Julie Gomena named Kieran Norris to ride the eight-year-old Royal Academy gelding.
Betsy Mead’s homebred Forgotten Man finished third in the Van Clief after winning the Stoneybrook Steeplechase’s Sandhills Cup optional allowance hurdle on April 4. Trainer Doug Fout named 2014 champion jockey Willie McCarthy to take over the mount.
Bernie Dalton will be aboard Check Mark Stables’ Mr. Lickety for trainer William B. Cocks. Mr. Lickety started the year with a victory in an Aiken Spring starter allowance and most recently finished second in a Ratings Handicap at the Queen’s Cup Steeplechase near Charlotte, N.C., on April 25.
Thomas E. Nugent’s Murphys Covert enters the High Hope race from a close second in the Block House optional allowance hurdle at Tryon, N.C., on May 2. Winner of an Aiken Spring maiden claimer on March 21, he is trained by Brian E. Murphy and will be ridden by Mark Watts.
Here is the field for High Hope’s $25,000 optional allowance hurdle in post-position order:
Forgotten Man. 2008 ch. g., Bowman’s Band—Hark the Sound (GB), by Robellino. Owner: Betsy Mead. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Betsy B. Mead (Ky.) 2015 record: 2-1-0-1, $17,500. 2014 record: 5-0-1-1, $10,450. Won Stoneybrook’s Sandhills Cup optional allowance hurdle to kick off 2015 season, then was third in Foxfield Spring’s Daniel Van Clief Memorial optional allowance hurdle. Finished fifth in Virginia Fall’s W. Gary Baker Memorial, was pulled up in the International Gold Cup’s David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3), and closed 2014 season with a third in a Colonial Cup allowance hurdle. Homebred finished second in 2014 Sandhills Cup.
Young Bohemian. 2008 g. g., Indian Charlie—Bristol Pistol, by Regal Classic. Owner: Augustin Stables. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: George Strawbridge Jr. (Ont.) 2015 record: 2-1-1-0, $15,600. 2014 record: No starts. Broke through for maiden victory at Foxfield Spring on April 25 after good second in Stoneybrook maiden hurdle on April 4.
Orchestra Leader. 2009 b. g., Van Nistelrooy—Magic of Life, by Seattle Slew. Owner: S. Bruce Smart. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Open. Breeder: Strategy Bloodstock (Ky.) 2015 record: 1-1-0-0, $15,000. 2014 record: 6-1-0-2, $12,500. Opened 2015 season with win in Foxfield Spring’s Daniel Van Clief Memorial optional allowance race on April 25. Ended 2014 season with third-place finish in an International Gold Cup allowance hurdle after seventh in Virginia Fall optional allowance hurdle. Won Tryon $15,000 claimer to open the 2014 season.
Mr. Lickety. 2010 b. g., Powerscourt (GB)—Sugah Sugah, by Northern Baby. Owner: Check Mark Stables. Trainer: William B. Cocks. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeder: Cathy Rountree (Fla.) 2015 record: 3-1-1-0, $12,600. 2014 record: 6-1-1-1, $17,700. Finished second in Queen’s Cup Ratings Handicap on April 25 after fall in Sandhills Cup optional allowance hurdle at Stoneybrook on April 4. Kicked off the 2015 season with a victory in an Aiken Spring starter allowance hurdle.
Blue Blade. 2010 b. g., Bluegrass Cat—Well Revered, by Red Ransom. Owner: Dr. John K. Griggs. Trainer: Desmond Fogarty. Jockey: Gus Dahl. Breeders: C. Kidder, John K. Griggs, and Linda Griggs (Ky.) 2015 record: 2-0-0-0, $2,150. 2014 record: 2-1-0-1, $14,500. Finished distant fourth in Stoneybrook starter allowance hurdle at start of 2015 season, then was fifth in Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle. Won maiden hurdle at 2014 Block House Steeplechase in North Carolina after third in Sport of Kings maiden hurdle at Atlanta Cup.
Nearby (GB). 2004 b. g., King’s Best—Contiguous, by Danzig. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Juddmonte Stables (GB). 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,750. 2014 record: 2-0-1-0, $5,400. Finished well-beaten fourth in 2015 Atlanta Cup optional allowance hurdle, a race in which he had finished second a year earlier. Finished eighth in Fair Hill’s 2014 Valentine Memorial starter stakes.
Arrakis. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Royal Academy—Quinn, by Theatrical (Ire). Owner: Over Creek Stables. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Iron County Farms (Ky.). 2015 record: 2-0-1-1, $7,000. 2014 record: No starts. Returned to the races after missing 2014 season and finished third in Aiken Spring optional allowance hurdle, then was second in Foxfield Spring’s Van Clief Memorial optional allowance hurdle on April 25. Won 2012 Charleston Cup optional allowance hurdle.
Murphys Covert. 2006 b. g., Birdstone—Storm Kitten, by Storm Cat. Owner: Thomas E. Nugent. Trainer: Brian Murphy. Jockey: Mark Watts. Breeder: Thomas E. Nugent (Ky.) 2015 NSA record: 3-1-1-0, $16,500. Finished second, beaten a neck, in Block House optional allowance hurdle on May 2. Won his first hurdle start in a maiden claimer at Aiken Spring but lost his rider in a starter allowance at the Stoneybrook Steeplechase on April 5.
Fantastic Song. 2009 b. g., Lemon Drop Kid—Fantastic Shirl, by Fantastic Light. Owner: Mrs. S. K. Johnston. Trainer: Fanneka Bentley. Jockey: Paddy Young. Breeder: Dell Ridge Farm (Ky.). 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,250. 2014 record: No starts. In first start in more than a year and a half, finished fourth in Middleburg Spring optional allowance hurdle.
Kingofalldiamonds. 2010 dk. b. or br. g., Giant’s Causeway—Queenofalldiamonds, by Kingmambo. Owner: Noble Stables. Trainer: Neil R. Morris. Jockey: Open. 2015 record: 2-0-0-0, $2,550. 2014 record: 5-1-0-0, $16,250. Finished fifth in Virginia Gold Cup optional allowance hurdle after sixth in Middleburg Spring optional allowance hurdle.
Overwhelming. 2010b. g., Hard Spun—Oh What a Windfall, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Woodslane Farm. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Phipps Stable (Ky.). 2015 record: 1-0-1-0, $4,500. 2014 NSA record: 6-1-2-1, $27,250. Finished second in Atlanta Steeplechase Ratings Handicap to open 2015 season. Broke through for maiden victory at Colonial Cup at end of 2014 season. Out of Grade 1-winning Phipps Stable mare.
Gokokogo. 2009 dk. b. or br. g., Bernardini—Got Koko, by Signal Tap. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: Open. 2014 record: 8-1-1-1, $10,050. Ended 2014 season with third in $10,000 claiming hurdle. Won $10,000 maiden claiming hurdle at the Block House Races in Tryon, N.C. Out of Texas-bred Grade 1 winner Got Koko.
G G Gal. 2009 ch. m., Whywhywhy—Royal G G, by Royal Academy. Owner: Dr. John K. Griggs. Trainer: Dave Washer. Jockey: Mark Watts. Breeders: John K. and Linda Griggs. 2015 record: 3-0-0-2, $4,095. 2014 record: 8-0-0-1, $4,400. Finished third in Block House optional allowance hurdle on May 2. Also third in Aiken Spring starter handicap on March 21. Looking for first win since maiden victory at 2013 Carolina Cup.
Broxbourne. 2009 dk. b. or br. g., Purim—Morlana, by More Than Ready. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeders: Jason Litt and Howard Litt (Ky.) 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,000. 2014 record: 6-2-0-0, $48,750. Finished fourth in Queen’s Cup Ratings Hurdle on April 25. Capped 2014 season with victory in Steeplechase at Callaway’s Crown Royal allowance hurdle. Won maiden hurdle at Atlanta, finished fourth in Iroquois Steeplechase’s Bright Hour Stakes, and fell early in a Monmouth Park optional allowance hurdle on June 13.
Complete Dyno. 2008 b. g., Dynaformer—Complete Number, by Polish Numbers. Owner: Check Mark Stables. Trainer: William B. Cocks. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2015 record: 1-1-0-0, $9,000. 2014 record: 4-1-1-2, $10,800. Opened 2015 season with easy victory in $10,000 claimer at Block House Races in Tryon, N.C., on May 2. Scored 25-length maiden win at 2014 Radnor Hunt Races.