Graded stakes winner Flying Elvis Stable’s Diplomat heads a highly competitive field for Saturday’s $35,000 Georgia Cup, the featured optional allowance hurdle at the 52nd annual Atlanta Steeplechase.
First post time at the Kingston, Ga., course is 1:30 p.m.
Diplomat has proved to be a successful claim for Adam and Richard Newman, who took him for $40,000 out of a Saratoga optional allowance hurdle in August 2015. That fall, he won the International Gold Cup’s $50,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) for the brothers, who race over fences as Flying Elvis.
Last fall, Diplomat finished fifth in the Ferguson. Trained by Kate Dalton, Diplomat will be ridden by Bernie Dalton, the trainer’s husband.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard will saddle Bill Pape’s Martini Brother, who finished third in the 2016 Noel Laing Handicap at the Montpelier Hunt Races in Virginia. He will be ridden by Darren Nagle.
Matthew T. Groff’s Selection Sunday is coming back after sitting out the 2016 season. One of 2015’s top novices—horses in their first seasons of competition over fences—Selection Sunday won the Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase and finished second in the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Champion trainer Jack Fisher named Willie McCarthy to ride.
Gregory D. Hawkins’ Alajmal, a Grade 1 winner in 2013, also is on the comeback trail for Racing Hall of Fame trainer Janet Elliot. He missed the 2016 season and was winless while racing in the sport’s top division in 2015. Shane Crimin will ride.
Here is the field for the $35,000 Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle.
Martini Brother. 2008 dk. b. or br. g., A.P. Indy—Island Sand, by Tabasco Cat. Owner: Bill Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Darren Nagle. Breeder: Meadowview Farms (Ky). 2016 record: 3-0-0-1, $3,500. 2015 record: 2-0-1-0, $23,250. Made comeback after more than a year on the sidelines with third in 2016 Noel Laing Handicap, then finished eighth in the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). Finished second in the 2015 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Was one of 2013’s top novices. Grade 1-winning dam sold for $4.2-million at 2007 Keeneland November Breeding Stock Sale while carrying Martini Brother. (126)
Diplomat. 2009 b. g., Kitten’s Joy—Waki Affair, by Miswaki. Owner: Flying Elvis Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeders: Ken and Sarah Ramsey (Ky.) 2016 record: 2-0-0-0, $3,000. 2015 record: 7-3-0-0, $126,750. In 2016 debut, finished fifth in International Gold Cup’s David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2), then fell in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). Won 2015 International Gold Cup’s Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) before sixth in Colonial Cup. Bred by champion owners-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey and is a full brother to stakes-placed Kitten Love. (128)
Alajmal. 2008 b. g., First Samurai—Alattrah, by Shadeed. Owner: Gregory D. Hawkins. Trainer: Janet Elliot. Jockey: Shane Crimin. Breeder: Shadwell Farm (Ky.) 2016 NSA record: No starts. 2015 record: 4-0-0-0, $6,000. 2014 NSA record: No starts. Finished seventh in 2015 Grand National (Gr. 1) and was 10th in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). In first race in 14 months, finished fifth in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), then was eighth in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Bookended his 2013 season with victories in the Carolina Cup and Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). (121)
Selection Sunday. (125) 2009 b. g., Harlan’s Holiday—Ntombi, by Quiet American. Owner: Matthew T. Groff. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Dr. John A. Chandler (Ky.) 2016 record: No starts. 2015 record: 2-1-1-0, $58,500. Coming back after missing the 2016 season. Won the 2015 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase and then finished second in the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes at Saratoga Race Course.