Three Eclipse Award champions—Demonstrative, Divine Fortune, and Pierrot Lunaire—have been entered to contest the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), the signature race of Saturday’s 74th annual Iroquois Steeplechase at Percy Warner Park.
Also on the star-studded seven-race program are the $75,000 Marcellus Frost for novices, the $50,000 Margret Currey Henley for fillies and mares, the $50,000 Mason Houghland Memorial over timber fences, and the $35,000 Bright Hour Ratings Handicap.
First post time is 1 p.m. for Nashville’s annual jump-racing extravaganza.
Demonstrative secured the 2014 Eclipse Award winner as North America’s leading steeplechase horse with three consecutive Grade 1 victories last summer and fall—in order, the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup at Saratoga Race Course, Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap and the $250,000 Grand National at Far Hills, N.J.
Winner of the 2013 Calvin Houghland Iroquois, Demonstrative had begun the 2014 season with a sixth-place finish in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois. Trainer Richard Valentine said Demonstrative was not fully fit for the race’s rigorous three miles over National Fences.
Regular jockey Robbie Walsh will again be in the saddle for the eight-year-old Elusive Quality gelding, who tuned up for the Calvin Houghland Iroquois with a victory in a training flat race at the Middleburg Spring Races in Virginia on April 18.
Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune, the 2013 Eclipse champion, is the defending Calvin Houghland Iroquois winner, and he wrapped up a strong 2014 season by winning the $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) in November.
Trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, Divine Fortune will be ridden by Darren Nagle, who missed last year’s race because of a broken leg sustained in a training accident. Divine Fortune prepared for Saturday’s race with a third-place finish in training flat race on April 25 at the Queen’s Cup Steeplechase near Charlotte, N.C.
Champion jockey Willie McCarthy rode Divine Fortune to last year’s win, and he will be aboard Barnstorming, a novice stakes winner who campaigns for Sheppard and the Round the Ben Stable partnership. Barnstorming finished sixth to Demonstrative in the Middleburg flat race.
Mary Ann Houghland’s Pierrot Lunaire won the 2009 Iroquois in the colors of her late husband, long-time Iroquois Steeplechase Chairman Calvin Houghland. The 2012 Eclipse champion after back-to-back wins in the Lonesome Glory and Grand National, Pierrot Lunaire finished fourth in last year’s Calvin Houghland Iroquois, his only 2014 start.
Trained by Bruce Miller, Pierrot Lunaire began his 2015 campaign with a seventh-place finish in Middleburg’s $50,000 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3). Kieran Norris will ride.
The Gwathmey winner, Gil Johnston’s Mr. Hot Stuff, figures to be a factor in this year’s Calvin Houghland Iroquois. A Grade 1 winner in 2013, he missed all of last season but has returned in top form. Four-time champion jockey Paddy Young will ride for champion trainer Jack Fisher.
Here is the field for the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) in alphabetical order. Post positions will be drawn on Thursday.
Barnstorming. 2006 b. g., Thunder Gulch—Soul of the Cat, by Stravinsky. Owners: Jonathan Sheppard and Around the Ben Stable. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: W. Bruce Lunsford (Ky.). 2014 record: 6-0-2-0, $63,500. Finished second in 2014 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) after fourth in $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J. Finished fifth in Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Closed for second in Saratoga’s $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) on Aug. 25. Won Saratoga’s 2013 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes.
Demonstrative. 2007 b. g., Elusive Quality–Loving Pride, by Quiet American. Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. Breeder: Gainsborough Farm (Ky.) 2014 record: 6-3-1-1, $362,500. Went to the lead as he wished and won 2014 Grand National (Gr. 1) by 3 3/4 lengths on Oct. 18. Scored a highly professional victory in Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Sept. 18. Won Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) on Aug. 25 after unlucky second in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on July 31. In first 2014 start, finished sixth in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), a race he had won in 2013. Also won 2012 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) and Colonial Cup (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. Breeders: Bill Pape and Jonathan Sheppard. 2014 record: 5-2-1-0, $195,000. Closed 2014 season with a brilliant victory in Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) in Camden, S.C. Ran a valiant race in Grand National (Gr. 1) to finish second on Oct. 18. Eclipse Award winner in 2013 fell at last fence of Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Sept. 18. Pulled up in Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) after blazing to 3 1/4-length score in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Secured Eclipse with brilliant victory in 2013 Grand National (Gr. 1).
Mr. Hot Stuff. 2006 dk. b. or br. g., Tiznow—Sweet Damsel, by Turkoman. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Paddy Young. Breeder: WinStar Farm (Ky.). 2015 record: 1-1-0-0, $30,000. 2014 record: No starts. Opened 2015 with win in Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) on April 18. Returned to races after winning Saratoga’s 2013 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and finishing fourth in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Won Iroquois Steeplechase’s 2013 Marcellus Frost for novices. 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).
Pierrot Lunaire. 2004 b. g., War Chant–Playact (Ire), by Hernando (Fr). Owner: Mary Ann Houghland. Trainer: Bruce Miller. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Skymarc Farm (Ky.). 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $7,500. Finished last of seven in Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) on April 18. In only 2014 start, finished fourth in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), a race he had won in 2009. 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).