A year ago, Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative and Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune battled to the finish line in the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), and these two major stakes winners will clash again in this year’s Iroquois, the signature race of the 73rd annual Iroquois Steeplechase on Saturday, May 10.
The Calvin Houghland Iroquois concludes a seven-race program that includes four other stakes races at Percy Warner Park near Nashville. The Calvin Houghland Iroquois is the richest race of the National Steeplechase Association spring season, and it has attracted an all-star cast for its three miles over National Fences.
Demonstrative made his usual late run in last year’s Calvin Houghland Iroquois and prevailed by a neck over Divine Fortune. Demonstrative went winless through the rest of the year, and Divine Fortune won the year’s richest race, the $250,000 Grand National at Far Hills, N.J., to lock up the 2013 Eclipse Award.
Both would be making their first 2014 start over fences, although they competed in a training flat race at the Queen’s Cup Steeplechase on April 26, with Divine Fortune finishing third and Demonstrative taking fourth.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard tabbed current leading jockey Willie McCarthy to ride Divine Fortune, and trainer Richard Valentine will put Robbie Walsh aboard Demonstrative. Sheppard also entered his Italian Wedding, who will be ridden by Bernie Dalton, and Valentine entered Ann Pape’s Fog Island, to be ridden by Kieran Norris.
Blythe Miller Davies entered 2012 Eclipse Award winner Pierrot Lunaire and 2013 Iroquois third finisher Molotof. Both are owned by Mary Ann Houghland, who carries on the racing tradition of her late husband, longtime Iroquois Chairman Calvin Houghland. Jody Petty will be astride Pierrot Lunaire, winner of the 2009 Iroquois, and the mount aboard Molotof is open.
Magalen O. Bryant’s Gustavian will be attempting to regain his best 2013 form in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois. The Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) winner finished second in the Grand National and fell in the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) in November. He started the 2014 season with a second in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at the Middleburg Spring Races on April 19. Four-time champion jockey Paddy Young will ride for his wife, trainer Leslie Young.
Cyril Murphy will saddle Irv Naylor’s For Non Stop, a veteran of English steeplechase racing who burst away to an easy victory in the Sandhills Cup, an allowance hurdle at the Stoneybrook Steeplechase in North Carolina on April 5. Ross Geraghty, the 2012 champion jockey, will ride.
Who do you like in the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois?
Pierrot Lunaire. 2004 b. g., War Chant–Playact (Ire), by Hernando (Fr). Owner: Mary Ann Houghland. Trainer: Blythe Miller Davies. Jockey: Jody Petty. 2013 record: 2-0-0-0, $15,500. 2012 record: 5-2-0-1, $253,000. 2011 record: 3-0-0-1, $20,000. 10-1 odds. Finished fourth in the Grand National (Gr. 1) in his 2013 debut, then was sixth in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). Locked up 2012 Eclipse Award with victory in Grand National at Far Hills, N.J., after stunning 48.75-1 win by a nose in Belmont’s Lonesome Glory (Gr. 1). Won 2009 Iroquois.
Molotof (Fr). 2007 gr. g., Smadoun—Memorial, by Homme de Loi. Owner: Mary Ann Houghland. Trainer: Blythe Miller Davies. Jockey: Open. 2013 NSA record: 1-0-0-1, $15,000. 15-1 odds. Finished distant third in 2013 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) in his U.S. debut. Won 32red Casino Steeplechase Handicap at Warwick in February 2013.
Divine Fortune. 2003 ch. g., Royal Anthem–My Tombola, by Northern Fling. Owner: William Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2013 record: 7-2-1-1, $207,000. 2012 record: 7-1-3-0, $113,500. 2011 record: 4-1-1-0, $64,000. 3-1 odds. Eclipse Award and Lonesome Glory Champions Award winner in 2013 season that included Grand National (Gr. 1) victory and second in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Concluded season with fourth in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). Prepared for Iroquois with third in training flat race at Queen’s Cup near Charlotte on April 26.
Italian Wedding. 2005 b. g., Alphabet Soup–Effervescent, by Citidancer. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2013 record: 5-1-1-2, $133,000. 2012 record: 1-0-0-0, $2,500. 2011 record: 6-1-0-0, $55,200. 10-1 odds. Pulled up in his only 2014 start, the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at Middleburg Spring on April 19. Finished third in the 2013 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). Rallied for third in Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Sept. 19. Notched a one-length score in Saratoga Race Course’s $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) on Aug. 22. Finished a good second in Saratoga’s $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1).
Demonstrative. 2007 b. g., Elusive Quality–Loving Pride, by Quiet American. Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. 2013 record: 4-1-0-1, $127,000. 2012 record: 6-3-0-0, $209,000. 2011 record: 8-2-4-2, $96,300. 7-2 odds. 2013 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) winner ended season with third in the Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 19 and fifth in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) on Nov. 23. Won Colonial Cup in 2012 and was Eclipse Award runner-up. Was 2010 three-year-old champion. Prepared for 2014 Iroquois with fourth-place finish in a Queen’s Cup training flat race on April 24.
Fog Island. 2006 b. g., Rossini—Orchid Island, by Broad Brush. Owner: Anne Pape. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Kieran Norris. 2013 record: 3-0-1-0, $12,750. 2012 record: 5-1-0-0, $47,400. 2011 record: 8-1-1-0, $24,680. 15-1 odds. Abbreviated 2013 season began with second in Carolina Cup. Subsequently pulled up in Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase and ran fourth in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Stakes. Won the 2012 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills, N.J.
For Non Stop (Ire). 2005 b. g., Alderbrook–Lost Link, by Shernazar (Ire): Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2014 record: 1-1-0-0, $15,000. 2013 NSA record: No starts. 8-1 odds. In first U.S. start, ran away to a 27 1/2-length victory in the Sandhills Cup, an allowance hurdle at the Stoneybrook Steeplechase in North Carolina on April 5. Had extensive racing career in England, where he earned more than $230,000, including $52,826 last year. Finished second in the Ryanair Festival Trophy Steeplechase at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival.
Gustavian. 2006 b. g., Giant’s Causeway–Mossflower, by Affirmed. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Paddy Young. 2014 record: 1-0-1-0, $9,000. 2013 record: 5-1-2-1, $149,000. 2012 record: 5-1-4-0, $70,500. 8-1 odds. Started 2014 season with second, beaten 1 1/2 lengths, in Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at Middleburg Spring Races on April 19. Finished second to Divine Fortune in the 2013 Grand National (Gr. 1), beaten 5 1/2 lengths, then unseated his rider in the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). Scored biggest victory of his career in Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) at 3.85-1 on Sept. 19.
Virsito. 2006 b. g., Dynaformer–Turkish Gipsy, by Turkoman. Owner: Sheila J. Williams and Andre Brewster. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Jeff Murphy. 2014 record: No starts. 2013 record: No starts. 20-1 odds. Won maiden victory at 2012 Iroquois Steeplechase meet and then won a Saratoga Race Course optional allowance that summer.