Dumbarton Farm’s homebred Easy Red, given a skillfully timed ride by champion jockey Paddy Young, soared to the lead over the last fence at Saratoga Race Course and easily held off Bill Pape’s Lead Us Now to win a $53,000 allowance-optional claiming race by 2 3/4 lengths on Thursday, Sept. 2. Trained by Tom Voss, 18.50-to-1 longshot Easy Red turned back owner Pape’s bid to win all of Saratoga’s 2010 steeplechase races.
Mrs. George L. Ohrstrom Jr.’s Four Schools set the pace for much of the 2 3/8-mile race over National Fences, with Mrs. George M. Sensor’s Riddle closest behind him for much of the trip. On the final circuit, Straight to It supplanted Riddle in second position and gained the lead approaching the final fence on the Mellon Turf Course.
Both Young aboard Easy Red and Brian Crowley on Lead Us Not raced early in midpack in a field of nine experienced steeplechase horses, with Crowley keeping his mount in the clear and shifting to the outside to attack the final fence.
Young moved Easy Red slightly to the outside approaching the final fence, and they jumped to the lead past Andre Brewster’s and Sheila Williams’ Straight to It. Lead Us Not, who appeared to be distracted by the crowd noise approaching the fence, also jumped the fence well, but he lacked the kick to overtake Easy Red, who had been pulled up at the last in an Aug. 12 allowance-optional claimer a 2 1/16 miles that Lead Us Not had won.
Chadds Ford Stable’s Saluda Sam closed well to take third, a nose behind Lead Us Not and 2 1/4 lengths ahead of fourth-place finisher Straight to It. Easy Red ran the 2 3/8 miles in 4:39.68 on firm turf.
The victory was Easy Red’s second over fences, after a maiden score at Monmouth Park last Sept. 26. But the eight-year-old Charismatic gelding possesses plenty of back class on the flat; he won the 2006 Jennings Handicap at Laurel Park and placed third in the Jennings two years later.
Easy Red denied Pape and trainer Jonathan Sheppard an unprecedented sweep of Saratoga’s jump races. They had won the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes and New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) with Sermon of Love, and Divine Fortune won the A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 2).