Bill Pape’s El Season and Irv Naylor’s Lake Placid head a well-matched field for the $20,000 Jay Trump starter handicap at the High Hope Races at the Kentucky Horse Park on Sunday, May 18. First post time is 1 p.m. for the 46th edition of the High Hope meet in Lexington.
El Season, a seven-year-old El Prado gelding trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, has been feasting on starter handicaps this year. He began the spring with a 9 1/2-length score at the Aiken Spring Steeplechase on March 22 and then won a similar starter handicap by four lengths at the Queen’s Cup near Charlotte on April 26.
Current leading jockey Willie McCarthy, who has ridden El Season in both of his 2014 victories, will be in the saddle for the 2 1/8-mile race over National Fences.
Trained by Cyril Murphy, Lake Placid is the most accomplished member of the field, which is limited to horses who have raced got a $20,000 or less claiming price over the last two seasons. The nine-year-old Giant’s Causeway gelding began the current season with a 2 1/2-length score in the Block House at Tryon, N.C., on May 3, when he ran for a $20,000 tag.
Racing exclusively in stakes races last year, he was unplaced in three starts. Altogether, the free-running gelding has won nine races over fences and was the 2011 novice champion. Harry Haynes, riding his first season in the United States, has a return call aboard Lake Placid.
El Season and Lake Placid will have plenty of competition from a field of winners. Bruce Smart’s Orchestra Leader won a Block House claiming hurdle for trainer Jimmy Day, who named Thomas Bennett to ride in the Jay Trump. Also entered was Athene Noctura Stables’ Odi et Amo, who finished second in the Block House race for trainer Allison Fullmer. Kieran Norris will ride Odi et Amo.
Also in the field are several horses who have won maiden claimers this year. Gil Johnston’s Syros devastated a field at the Virginia Gold Cup by more than 30 lengths on May 3, and Sam Jones has a return call for leading trainer Jack Fisher.
Bernie Dalton will be aboard Dr. John K. Griggs’ Blue Blade, who won a Block House maiden hurdle, for trainer Desmond Fogarty. Leading Virginia trainer Richard Valentine will saddle Magalen O. Bryant’s Annual Update, winner of a Dogwood Classic maiden claimer at Colonial Downs on April 5. Robbie Walsh will ride.
Who do you like in the Jay Trump?
Odi et Amo. 2208 b. g., Inamorato—Marisha, by Arts and Letters. Owner: Athene Noctura Stables. Trainer: Allison B. Fullmer. Jockey: Open. 2014 record: 2-1-1-0, $7,800. 2013 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 10-1 odds. Won maiden claimer at Stoneybrook Steeplechase in North Carolina on April 5 and then finished second to Orchestra Leader in a Tryon claimer. Name translates: I hate and I love, from the first line of a poem by the Latin poet Catullus.
El Season. 2007 b. g., El Prado (Ire) Owner: Bill Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2014 record: 2-2-0-0, $24,000. 2013 NSA record: 6-1-1-1, $9,100. 5-2 odds. Has been feasting on starter handicaps this year, winning at Aiken Spring by 9 1/2 lengths and at the Queen’s Cup by four. Won in Charleston Cup claimer last November to qualify for starter races.
Annual Update. 2008 b. g., Dynaformer—Yearly Report, by General Meeting. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. 2014 record: 1-1-0-0, $6,000. 2013 record: 4-0-1-1, $5,200. 10-1 odds. Won as 11-10 favorite in Dogwood Classic maiden claimer at Colonial Downs on April 5. Finished second in Montpelier Hunt Races maiden claimer last fall.
Orchestra Leader. 2009 b. g., Van Nistelrooy—Magic of Life, by Seattle Slew. Owner: Bruce Smart. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Thomas Bennett. 2014: 1-1-0-0, $6,000. 2013 NSA record: 7-0-0-1, $3,100. 6-1 odds. Opened 2014 campaign with victory in Block House claiming hurdle on May 3. Won on the flat for a $25,000 claiming tag at Delaware Park last year but his only placing over fences was a third in Foxfield Spring optional allowance hurdle.
Blue Blade. 2010 b. g., Bluegrass Cat—Well Revered by Red Ransom. Owner: John K. Griggs. Trainer: Desmond Fogarty. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2014 record: 2-1-0-1, $14,500. 2013 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $500. 10-1 odds. Scored maiden victory at Block House Steeplechase in North Carolina on May 3 after third at Atlanta Steeplechase. Began career over fences last year with a fourth at Virginia Fall before being pulled up in Aiken Fall maiden claimer.
Johann Star. 2004 dk. b. or br. g., Johannesburg—Surina Star, by Pleasant Colony. Owner: Richard A. Chantry. Trainer: Michael Berryman. Jockey: Mark Watts. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2013 record: 3-0-0-0, $1,500. 15-1 odds. Pulled up in conditioned claiming hurdle at the Willowdale Steeplechase on May 11. Finished fourth to El Season in Charleston Cup claimer last November.
Syros. 2008 b. g., Dynaformer—Meridiana (Ger), by Lomitas (GB). Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sam Jones. 2014 record: 3-1-0-1, $11,500. 2013 record: 3-0-0-1, $3,250. 8-1 odds. Won Virginia Gold Cup maiden claimer by more than 30 lengths on May 3 after third in Atlanta maiden claimer.
Lake Placid. 2005 b. g., Giant’s Causeway–Saranac Lake, by Smart Strike. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Harry Haynes. 2014 record: 1-1-0-0, $12,000. 2013 record: 3-0-0-0, $7,800. 7-2 odds. Returned to top form with victory in the Block House optional allowance hurdle at Tryon, N.C., on May 3. Ended 2013 season with distant fifth-place finish in Noel Laing Handicap at Montpelier Hunt Races. Also fifth in 2013 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) after seventh in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3). Was 2011’s novice champion.