Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative and Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune, who finished a neck apart in their most recent meeting, will clash again in Saratoga Race Course’s $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on Thursday, Aug. 1.
A top-shelf field of eight was entered for the 2 1/16-mile Smithwick, the featured jump contest on Saratoga’s first Steeplechase Thursday doubleheader. Kicking off the race program will be a $65,000 optional allowance hurdle that drew a full field of 12 with two also-eligibles.
Demonstrative and Divine Fortune met most recently in the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) in Nashville on May 11. With his characteristic late charge, Demonstrative edged ahead late in the three-mile race to best Divine Fortune, who battled gamely to the finish.
The undisputed current leaders the battle for this year’s steeplechase Eclipse Award, Demonstrative and Divine Fortune both have strong Saratoga credentials. Trained by Richard Valentine, Demonstrative won two Saratoga stakes last year, the Jonathan Kiser Novice and the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1).
The Elusive Quality gelding capped his 2012 season with a stunning drive past Divine Fortune to win the $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) at Camden, S.C., on Nov. 17. Regular jockey Robbie Walsh will be aboard Demonstrative for the Smithwick.
Divine Fortune, a member of Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard’s stable, won the Smithwick in 2010 and 2011 before a fifth-place finish last year.
Now ten, the Royal Anthem gelding bred by Pape and Sheppard started the 2013 season with an easy victory in the Sandhills Cup allowance hurdle in North Carolina on April 6. Darren Nagle, who became Divine Fortune’s regular jockey last fall, will be in the saddle.
Sheppard also entered his Italian Wedding, who is coming back from an extended layoff, and Atlantic Equine’s Hunt Ball, a recent import making his first U.S. start. The veteran Irish-bred steeplechaser won a handicap at England’s Taunton Race Course in April. Bernie Dalton rides Italian Wedding, and Ross Geraghty takes the reins of Hunt Ball.
Looking to strike Saratoga gold again will be Randleston Farm’s Spy in the Sky, nose winner of last year’s Smithwick at 25-1. The Thunder Gulch gelding also won the 2009 New York Turf Writers Cup at 20-1 odds.
Spy in the Sky finished seventh in his first 2013 start, Radnor Hunt Races’ National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3), on May 18. He warmed up for his Saratoga campaign with a run on the flat at Belmont Park on July 6. Trainer Jimmy Day named Danielle Hodsdon to ride Spy in the Sky in the Smithwick.
Jack Fisher, the reigning champion trainer by wins, entered Gil Johnston’s Mr. Hot Stuff and Woodslane Farm’s Brave Prospect.
Mr. Hot Stuff, who won Iroquois’ $75,000 Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes, is looking to bounce back from a puzzling fourth in Colonial Downs’ $50,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) in June. Fisher tapped three-time champion jockey Paddy Young to take over the mount on Mr. Hot Stuff, who finished fourth in the 2006 Belmont Stakes (Gr. 1).
English jockey Dave Crosse will ride Brave Prospect, who most recently finished second in the Valentine Memorial Stakes at Fair Hill, Md., on May 25.
Irv Naylor, the National Steeplechase Association’s three-time leading owner, will be represented by recent import Meganisi, second finisher in the John Smiths Hurdle at Aintree in April. Willie Dowling, in his debut season as a trainer, named Gus Dahl to handle Meganisi.
The A. P. Smithwick honors the Racing Hall of Fame jockey who died in 1973. The entries for Thursday’s edition of the A. P. Smithwick, in post-position order, are:
Hunt Ball (Ire). 2005 b. g., Winged Love (Ire)—La Fandango (Ire), by Taufan. Owner: Atlantic Equine. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2013 NSA record: No starts. Veteran British steeplechaser won Taunton handicap in April. Also won at the 2012 Cheltenham Festival.
Meganisi (Ire). 2007 b. g., Galileo (Ire)—Clandi di San Jore (Ire), by Lando (Ger). 2013 NSA record: No starts. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: William Dowling. Jockey: Gus Dahl. Veteran hurdler finished second in John Smiths Handicap at Aintree in April.
Demonstrative. 2007 b. g., Elusive Quality–Loving Pride, by Quiet American. Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. 2013 record: 1-1-0-0, $90,000. 2012 record: 6-3-0-0, $209,000. 2011 record: 8-2-4-2, $96,300. Surged to a neck victory in the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), his first 2013 start. Made an amazing late charge to win 2012 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) by a length. Drew clear to a one-length victory in the 2012 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) after two-length score in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice. Finished fourth in 2012 Grand National (Gr. 1). Was 2010 three-year-old champion.
Divine Fortune. 2003 ch. g., Royal Anthem–My Tombola, by Northern Fling. Owner: William Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. 2013 record: 2-1-1-0, $42,000. 2012 record: 7-1-3-0, $113,500. 2011 record: 4-1-1-0, $64,000. Finished solid second in $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) on May 11. Cruised to a convincing victory in the Sandhills Cup in North Carolina on April 6. Took lead at last fence of 2012 Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) and held on well for second, beaten a length. Set pace in Grand National (Gr. 1) and finished good second at Far Hills, N.J. on Oct. 20. Two-time winner of the A. P. Smithwick Memorial, in 2010 and 2011.
Spy in the Sky. 2004 ch. g., Thunder Gulch—Monaassabaat, by Zilzal. Owner: Randleston Farm. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Danielle Hodsdon. 2013 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2012 record: 6-1-1-1, $111,250. 2011 record: 6-0-0-3, $12,000. Finished seventh in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup in seasonal debut on May 18. Ended 2012 season with a sixth in the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). Missed by a nose in Lonesome Glory Stakes (Gr. 1) at Belmont Park on Sept. 27. Upset 2012 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) at 25-1 on Aug. 2 and then was a respectable third in the New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), a race he won in 2009.
Mr. Hot Stuff. 2006 dk. b. or br. g., Tiznow—Sweet Damsel, by Turkoman. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Paddy Young. 2013 record: 3-1-0-1, $52,500. 2012 record: No starts. 2011 record: 4-2-0-0, $35,000. Won Iroquois Steeplechase’s $75,000 Marcellus Frost for novices by 2 1/2 lengths on May 11 before fourth in Colonial Downs’ David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial. Began 2013 campaign with a third, beaten 3 3/4 lengths, in the Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase on April 27. Maiden flat winner finished third in 2009 Santa Anita Derby (Gr. 1), 15th in the Kentucky Derby (Gr. 1), and eighth in the Belmont Stakes (Gr. 1).
Italian Wedding. 2005 b. g., Alphabet Soup–Effervescent, by Citidancer. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2012 record: 1-0-0-0, $2,500. 2011 record: 6-1-0-0, $55,200. Would be making first start since fourth-place finish in the 2012 Carolina Cup. Won 2011 Michael G. Walsh Novice at Saratoga.
Brave Prospect. 2007 b. g., Purge—Issaqueena, by Mr. Prospector. Owner: Woodslane Farm. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Dave Crosse. 2013 record: 3-1-1-1, $27,700. 2012 record: 9-1-4-0, $53,200. Finished second in Valentine Memorial at Fair Hill Races on May 25. Won Virginia Gold Cup starter allowance on May 4 after third in featured allowance hurdle at Dogwood Classic at Colonial Downs on April 4. Finished second in the 2012 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle at Callaway Gardens in Georgia after fourth-place finish in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 27.