Saratoga Race Course’s schedule of 12 steeplechase races kicks off Wednesday with a full, well-matched field for a $65,000 allowance hurdle. Steeplechase races will be run every Wednesday and Thursday of the Saratoga meet with a 12:25 p.m. post time.
Jack Fisher, who shared last year’s National Steeplechase Association trainer title and currently is tied for the lead in the standings, will saddle two contenders for the 2 1/16-mile race on Saratoga’s inner turf course.
Andre Brewster’s Selection Sunday will attempt to pick up his second victory of the year, following a daylight win in a maiden hurdle at the Radnor Hunt Races in suburban Philadelphia on May 17. Most recently second in a Monmouth Park optional allowance hurdle on June 13, Selection Sunday will be ridden by Willie McCarthy, who leads the current season’s jockey standings.
Also from Fisher’s stable is Gil Johnston’s Syros, who bolted away to an overwhelming maiden victory at the Virginia Gold Cup on May 3 and then took second money in the Jay Trump, a starter allowance at the High Hope Steeplechase in Lexington on May 18. Jeff Murphy has the mount.
Ross Geraghty, the 2012 champion jockey who has cut into McCarthy’s lead with six recent victories, will ride Armata Stable’s Rudyard K, who will be making his first start for Maryland trainer Todd Wyatt. The Kipling gelding has two second-place finishes this year, in the Dogwood Classic allowance hurdle on April 5 and the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes on May 10.
The reigning champion jockey, Paddy Young, will be aboard Rosbrian Farm’s Wantan, who won easily a Virginia Gold Cup starter allowance on May 3 after being claimed by trainer Ricky Hendriks at the Atlanta Steeplechase. The Argentine-bred finished a good second in the Valentine Memorial starter stakes at the Fair Hill Races in Maryland on May 24.
Richard Valentine, a top Virginia-based trainer, will saddle The Elkstone Group’s Albany Road and Magalen O. Bryant’s Leather Gloves. Albany Road most recently finished third in a Parx Racing optional allowance hurdle on July 1, and Leather Gloves won a Fair Hill maiden hurdle. Robbie Walsh will be aboard Albany Road, and 2013 champion apprentice Kieran Norris has a return ride on Leather Gloves.
Here is the field for the $65,000 allowance hurdle in post position order:
Orchestra Leader. 2009 b. g., Van Nistelrooy—Magic of Life, by Seattle Slew. Owner: Bruce Smart. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Gus Dahl. 2014: 3-1-0-1, $9,500. 2013 NSA record: 7-0-0-1, $3,100. Opened 2014 campaign with victory in Block House claiming hurdle on May 3, then was third in Jay Trump starter hurdle at the High Hope Steeplechase in Lexington on May 18. Most recently finished fourth in Monmouth Park optional allowance hurdle on June 13. Won on the flat for a $25,000 claiming tag at Delaware Park last year.
Syros. 2008 b. g., Dynaformer—Meridiana (Ger), by Lomitas (GB). Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Jeff Murphy. 2014 NSA record: 4-1-1-1, $15,100. 2013 record: 3-0-0-1, $3,250. Won Virginia Gold Cup maiden claimer by more than 30 lengths on May 3 after third in Atlanta maiden claimer, then was second in Jay Trump starter allowance hurdle at the High Hope Steeplechase on May 18. Most recently won a Belmont Park $35,000 claimer on June 15.
Cocodimama. 2009 dk. b. or br. g., Johar—Kschessinka, by Nureyev. Owner: Bon Nouvel Chasers. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Xavier Aizpuru. 2014 record: 4-1-1-0, $21,300. Finished distant fourth in Thompson Memorial allowance hurdle at the Radnor Hunt Races on May 17, then finished fifth in Parx Racing allowance hurdle on July 1. Won Sport of Kings maiden hurdle at Middleburg Spring Races on April 19 after second at Stoneybrook Steeplechase on April 5.
Rudyard K. 2009 b. g., Kipling—Two Bridges, by Major Impact. Owner: Frances Hill Myers. Trainer: Todd Wyatt. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2014 record: 2-0-2-0, $18,000. 2013 record: 5-2-0-2, $27,000. Just missed in $75,000 Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at Nashville’s Iroquois Steeplechase on May 10 after respectable second in Dogwood Classic allowance hurdle at Colonial Downs on April 5. Has new trainer for Saratoga debut and picks up hot jockey.
Wantan (Arg). 2005 dk. b. or br. g., Pure Prize–Water Proof, by Turkoman. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Paddy Young. 2014 NSA record: 3-1-1-1, $26,400. 2013 record: 2-0-1-0, 6,500. Claimed from Atlanta Steeplechase race in which he finished third, then won Virginia Gold Cup starter handicap on May 3. Finished good second in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial starter handicap and prepped with even effort on the flat at Delaware Park.
Run to Class. 2010 b. g., Read the Footnotes–Runaway Zia, by Runaway Groom. Owner: Edition Farm. Trainer: Janet Elliot. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2014 record: 3-0-0-0, $6,250. 2013 record: 3-1-0-0, $8,000. Owner-breeder Vivien G. Malloy’s New York-bred started 2014 season with fourth-place finishes in Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase on April 26 and the Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at Iroquois Steeplechase on May 19, then lost rider in Monmouth Park optional allowance hurdle on June 13. Made a promising start over fences with a victory at Virginia Fall and is seeking second win over fences.
Selection Sunday. 2009 b. g., Harlan’s Holiday—Ntombi, by Quiet American. Owner: Andre Brewster. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2014 record: 2-1-1-0, $20,400. 2013 NSA record: No starts. In first career start over fences, drew away to a six-length victory in a $25,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle at the Radnor Hunt Races on May 17, then was well-beaten second in Monmouth Park optional allowance hurdle. Had two wins on the flat in New York.
Searubyrun. 2008 gr. or ro. g., Rubiyat—Dress Fancy, by Allen’s Prospect. Owner: Rebecca Shepherd. Trainer: David M. Bourke. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,250. 2013 record: 8-0-0-0, $2,100. Finished third in allowance hurdle at Virginia Gold Cup on May 3. Scratched from Monmouth Park optional allowance hurdle on June 13. Failed to hit the board in eight starts over fences in 2013. Won maiden victory at Montpelier in 2012.
Leather Gloves. 2008 dk. b. or br. g., Not For Love—Mittens, by Storm Boot. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Kieran Norris. 2014 record: 2-1-0-1, $20,500. No NSA starts. Won Fair Hill maiden hurdle after third in Queen’s Cup maiden hurdle on April 26. Always close but winless in three starts on the flat last year.
Albany Road. 2007 ch. g., Mr. Greeley—Jane’s the Name, by Trempolino. Owner: The Elkstone Group. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. 2014 record: 3-0-0-1, $6,200. 2013 NSA record: 6-1-1-1, $31,618. Finished third in Parx Racing allowance hurdle on July 1. Started 2014 with two fifth-place finishes, in the Carolina Cup for novices on March 29 and the Thompson Memorial allowance hurdle at the Radnor Hunt Races on May 17. Won maiden hurdle at Fair Hill Races in May 2013 before good second in Saratoga optional allowance.