Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune, the reigning Eclipse Award-winning steeplechase horse, heads a strong group of 13 nominees to Saratoga Race Course’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on Thursday, July 31. Also among the nominees to the 2 1/16-mile Smithwick are three past winners of Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1).
Divine Fortune has made only one start this year, a front-running tour de force in the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) in Nashville on May 10. That 3 1/4-length score mirrored his brilliant victory in last fall’s $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) in Far Hills, N.J.
Now 11, Divine Fortune is trained by his co-breeder, Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, who also nominated two other stakes winners, both of whom he owns and trains. Italian Wedding won last year’s New York Turf Writers after finishing second in the Smithwick, and Barnstorming won Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes last August. Both are winless this year.
Also looking for his first 2014 win is Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative, winner of the 2012 New York Turf Writers. In his only appearance this season for trainer Richard Valentine, Demonstrative finished sixth in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois, a race he won in 2013.
The third New York Turf Writers winner is Randleston Farm’s Spy in the Sky, the 2009 winner at 20-1 odds. The veteran’s most recent win for trainer Jimmy Day was a 25-1 upset of the 2012 A. P. Smithwick.
Gregory Hawkins’ Alajmal, a two-time stakes winner last year, was nominated by Racing Hall of Fame trainer Janet Elliot to make his first 2014 start over fences in the A. P. Smithwick. Alajmal was 2012’s novice champion and won the 2013 Carolina Cup and Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1), both at Camden, S.C.
Trainer Doug Fout nominated Pleasant Woodman, a front-running two-time stakes winner this year. Owned by Virginia Lazenby and Farm d’Allie Racing Stables, the six-year-old scored in Aiken Spring’s Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 1) and the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes.
Jack Fisher, last year’s co-champion trainer with Sheppard, nominated three contenders to the A. P. Smithwick. All Together, owned by Andre Brewster and Sheila Williams, revitalized his career at Saratoga last August by winning an optional allowance claiming hurdle for a $30,000 tag and then running a good second to Italian Wedding in the New York Turf Writers.
Also from the Fisher camp are Michael Moran’s Staying On, winner of the Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase near Charlotte on April 26, and Sheila Williams’ consistent homebred Easy Reach, winner of an Atlanta Steeplechase optional allowance hurdle on April 19.
Elizabeth Voss Murray, who began training the stable of her late father, Maryland horseman Tom Voss, this spring, nominated two recent imports, The Fields Stable’s Bob Le Beau and Merriebelle Stable’s Makari. Bob Le Beau was entered to start in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 24, and Makari has two wins at small tracks in England this spring.
Voss Murray also nominated The Fields Stable’s Wanganui, the 2011 three-year-old champion who is attempting a comeback after missing all of last season.
Here are the nominees for the $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1).
Alajmal. 2008 b. g., First Samurai—Alattrah, by Shadeed. Owner: Gregory D. Hawkins. Trainer: Janet Elliot. 2014 record: No NSA starts. 2013 record: 7-2-0-0, $93,750. 2012 NSA record: 6-2-1-1, $64,000. Book-ended busy 2013 season with stylish victories in the Carolina Cup and the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup, both in Camden, S.C. Novice champion closed 2012 season with a strong third in the Colonial Cup (Gr. 1).
All Together. (140) 2005 b. g., Danzig–Unify, by Farma Way. Owners: Andre W. Brewster and Sheila J. Williams. Trainer: Jack Fisher. 2014 record: 2-0-2-0, $9,000. 2013 NSA record: 7-1-3-0, $104,100. 2012 record: 6-0-0-3, $29,000. Performs well at Saratoga and is seeking a win after three straight second-place finishes in starter handicaps. Beaten mere nose in 2013 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) at Belmont Park, then was fifth in the Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J. Ran strong second in Saratoga Race Course’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) after win in Saratoga optional allowance claimer for a $30,000 tag. Novice champion in 2010.
Barnstorming. 2006 b. g., Thunder Gulch—Soul of the Cat, by Stravinsky. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2013 record: 7-1-2-0, $93,500. 2012 record: 2-0-0-1, $8,000. Tired and fell in Stoneybrook Steeplechase’s Sandhills Cup in North Carolina on April 5. Finished second in 2013 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) after fifth in the $250,000 Grand National at Far Hills, N.J. Rolled to a 6 1/4-length victory in Saratoga Race Course’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes after good second in Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. his 2013 debut.
Bob Le Beau (Ire). 2007 dk. b. or. br. g., Big Bad Bob—Shine Silently, by Bering (GB). Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss Murray. Jockey: Jack Doyle. 2014 record: No NSA starts. Formerly based in Ireland with trainer Jessica Harrington and was entered to make his U.S. debut in the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 24. Has not raced since last October; won an allowance hurdle last August.
Demonstrative. 2007 b. g., Elusive Quality–Loving Pride, by Quiet American. Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $4,500. 2013 record: 5-1-0-1, $131,000. In only 2014 start, finished sixth in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), a race he won in 2013. Ended 2013 season with third in the Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., and fifth in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) on Nov. 23. Won 2012 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) and Colonial Cup. Was 2010 three-year-old champion.
Divine Fortune. 2003 ch. g., Royal Anthem–My Tombola, by Northern Fling. Owner: William Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2014 record: 1-1-0-0, $90,000. 2013 record: 7-2-1-1, $207,000. 2012 record: 7-1-3-0, $113,500. 2011 record: 4-1-1-0, $64,000. Eclipse Award winner in 2013 blazed to 3 1/4-length score in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) in Nashville on May 10. Secured Eclipse with brilliant victory in Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., in October. Concluded season with fourth in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) after being harried on the lead.
Easy Reach. 2006 dk. b. or br. g, Arch–Brig, by Two Punch. Owner: Sheila J. Williams. Trainer: Jack Fisher. 2014 record: 4-1-3-0, $38,700. 2013 record: 6-2-1-0, $21,480. Finished second in Parx Racing allowance hurdle on July 1 after second in Bright Hour Stakes at Iroquois Steeplechase on May 10. Opened season with second in Carolina Cup at Camden, S.C., and then won an optional allowance hurdle at the Atlanta Steeplechase.
Italian Wedding. 2005 b. g., Alphabet Soup–Effervescent, by Citidancer. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2014 record: 2-0-0-0, $6,000. 2013 record: 5-1-1-2, $133,000. Finished fifth in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) on May 10 after being pulled up in 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) after one-length score in Saratoga Race Course’s $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1). Finished a good second in Saratoga’s $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1).
Makari (GB). 2007 b. g., Makbul—Seraphim, by Lashkari (GB). Owner: Merriebelle Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss Murray. 2014 record: No NSA starts. Recent import is coming off two big allowance hurdle victories at small English tracks. Finished a distant 17th (of 28) in Vincent O’Brien County Hurdle at this year’s Cheltenham Festival.
Pleasant Woodman. 2008 ch. g., Woodman—Pleasant Sands, by Sandpit (Brz). Owner: Virginia Lazenby and Farm d’Allie Racing Stables. Trainer: Doug Fout. 2014 record: 3-2-0-1, $80,000. 2013 record: 9-2-1-1, $36,550. Scored front-running victories in $75,000 Marcellus Frost Stakes at Iroquois Steeplechase on May 10 and Aiken Spring’s $50,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 3). Between the wins, finished third in $50,000 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) after leading over last.
Staying On (Ire). 2005 b. g., Invincible Spirit (Ire)—Lakatoi (GB), by Saddler’s Hall (Ire). Owner: Michael J. Moran. Trainer: Jack Fisher. 2014 record: 2-1-0-1, $35,000. 2013 record: 5-1-2-0, $65,400. Began 2014 season with win in the Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase near Charlotte on April 26 and then was third in National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) at Radnor Hunt Races in Malvern, Pa., on May 17. Scored game upset victory last year in Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, then was closing second by a nose in Foxbrook Champion Hurdle in Far Hills, N.J.
Spy in the Sky. (146) 2004 ch. g., Thunder Gulch—Monaassabaat, by Zilzal. Owner: Randleston Farm. Trainer: Jimmy Day. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2013 NSA record: 7-0-1-0, $25,100. 2012 record: 6-1-1-1, $111,250. 2011 record: 6-0-0-3, $12,000. Drought continued when pulled up in Temple Gwathmey on April 19. Also pulled up in the 2013 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). Second to Decoy Daddy in Noel Laing Handicap at Virginia’s Montpelier Hunt Races on Nov. 2. Upset 2012 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) at 25-1. Won 2009 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) at 20-1.
Wanganui. 2008 ch. g., Love of Money–Distant Drumroll, by Eastern Echo. Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss Murray. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $2,500. 2013 record: No starts. In only 2014 start, distanced fourth in National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) at Radnor Hunt Cup in Malvern, Pa., on May 17. Champion three-year-old in 2011 sidelined all of 2013 after winless 2012 season, although he accumulated three second-place finishes.