In another exciting Steeplechase Thursday finish, owner-trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s Cubist closed powerfully after the last fence of Saratoga Race Course’s $75,000 Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Filly & Mare Stakes to catch Cat Feathers and win by a neck on Aug. 30.
Owner-trainer Kate Dalton’s Cat Feathers, who had taken the lead approaching the final fence, ran on well to hold second easily, 5 3/4 lengths ahead of Magalen O. Bryant’s Well Fashioned. Leading owner Irv Naylor’s recent import Cordillera finished fourth, a length farther back, after bidding for the lead at the final fence.
Ridden by Brian Crowley, Cubist went off at 5.40-1 and collected the first stakes victory of her career. The five-year-old Sheppard homebred by Royal Academy ran the Mrs. Jeffords’ 2 1/16 miles in 3:53.74 on firm turf.
In a highly competitive field, Cat Feathers went off as the 2.15.-1 favorite after her impressive victory at 23.30-1 in the Mrs. Ogden Phipps Filly & Mare Stakes on Aug. 9. In her prior start over fences, Cubist had finished fifth in the Valentine Memorial Stakes for fillies and mares at the Fair Hill Races in Maryland on May 26.
Owner-trainer Jack Fisher’s Maya Charli had won the Valentine Memorial after setting all the pace, and the Cozzene mare again went to the front in the Mrs. Jeffords. Fifth in the Mrs. Phipps, Maya Charli set a steady pace in company with Well Fashioned, W. Russell Cline’s Better Than Even, and Cordillera.
Jockey Bernie Dalton tucked Cat Feathers behind the speed, and Cubist was near the back of a well-bunched field.
Maya Charli began to tire after the final fence, while Cat Feathers moved strongly on the last turn and led over the final fence. But Crowley had Cubist gaining ground on the outside, and the Sheppard mare swept to the front in the last sixteenth-mile past a game Cat Feathers. Cordillera, making her first U.S. start, tired late and was overtaken by Well Fashioned, who also had finished third in the Mrs. Phipps.
The Mrs. Jeffords was the final jump race of the Saratoga pari-mutuel meet and capped a steeplechase daily double. In the afternoon’s first race, jockey Paddy Young drove Riders Up Farm’s You the Man to a 2 3/4-length victory in a $65,000 optional allowance hurdle.
Trained by Todd Wyatt, You the Man went off at 14.50-1 and ran the 2 1/16-mile distance in 3:53.80. Woodslane Farm’s pacesetter Brave Prospect finished second, three lengths clear of Augustin Stables’ Rainiero.
Steeplechase racing returns to historic Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, Sept. 15, for the inaugural Steeplechase Festival at Saratoga, and the sport’s championship division will be in action at Belmont Park on Thursday, Sept. 27, in the $150,000 Lonesome Glory Stakes (Gr. 1).