Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative, narrowly second in the A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), jumped into the thick of the 2014 championship battle with a highly professional half-length victory in Saratoga Race Course’s $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) on Monday.
Rescheduled from last Thursday because of inclement weather conditions, the New York Turf Writers was run in memory of Tom Voss, a leading steeplechase horseman who died in January.
Trained by Richard Valentine and ridden by Robbie Walsh, Demonstrative collected his second win in the New York Turf Writers, after claiming Saratoga’s richest steeplechase race in 2012, and climbed to the top of this year’s earnings table with $112,500.
Owner-trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s entry of Barnstorming and 2013 New York Turf Writers winner Italian Wedding finished second and third, respectively. Sent off as the 2.30-to-1 favorite in a field of nine, Demonstrative ran the New York Turf Writers’ 2 3/8 miles in 4:34.78 on firm turf.
As expected, Pleasant Woodman went to the front at the start, and he was followed by the Irv Naylor entry of For Non Stop and Charminster. Walsh placed Demonstrative on the inside, approximately five lengths off the leader.
The first flight maintained their positions until the final run down Saratoga’s backstretch, where Charminster slipped back and For Non Stop began to weaken. Walsh found an opening on the inside and hustled Demonstrative past a tiring Pleasant Woodman as they approached the last fence, which Demonstrative jumped with a narrow lead.
Barnstorming moved into contention at the last, but he and jockey Willie McCarthy were unable to make a late impression on Demonstrative, who demonstrated that he has returned to his top form. He opened the year with a dull sixth in the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) on May 10 and ran a winning race in the A. P. Smithwick only to be beaten on the head bob.
“It was a pretty good trip,” Walsh said. “I was where I wanted to be early, down inside and covered up. Then it got tight down in there, and I was starting to get shuffled back, so I made a move to get a little closer again so I wouldn’t get in trouble.
“Then I got trapped inside again turning for home. Luckily, there was enough of a gap on the inside. I took it and I got to the front a bit sooner than I wanted, but I had no choice because otherwise I wasn’t going to get a run.”
Merriebelle Stable’s Makari, who had beaten Demonstrative a nose in the A. P. Smithwick on July 31, made his bid along the inside into the stretch, but he fell at the last fence and sustained a fatal neck injury.
Valentine collected his second straight Saratoga win and his third of the meet to take second place behind leader Jack Fisher. Last year’s co-champion trainer with Sheppard, Fisher maintained his lead by 2014 victories with 14 to Cyril Murphy’s 11 and eight for Valentine and Todd Wyatt.