Under a carefully timed ride by Jack Doyle, Irv Naylor’s Gimme Five gave it everything in Saratoga Race Course’s stretch on Wednesday and surged to a length victory in a $65,000 optional allowance hurdle.
Rock Ford Stables’ Sporty ran a strong race under Darren Nagle to finish second, 1 1/2 lengths clear of Northern Bay in third. All Together, the 1.10-to-1 favorite in a field of seven, finished fourth and was claimed for $30,000 by top New York trainer David Jacobson.
Trained by Cyril Murphy, four-year-old Gimme Five won his first American start after a promising start in England last year. The gelding by Champs Elysees (GB) won a juvenile hurdle and a handicap stakes last fall before going off form in the spring. Sent off as the 2.75-to-1 second choice, Gimme Five ran the 2 1/16-mile distance in 3:53.54 on firm turf.
Anne Pape’s Fog Island made the early running under Robbie Walsh, with So Outspoken and Ann Jackson’s Northern Bay tracking his pace. Doyle, who leads the 2015 jockey standings by earnings, placed Gimme Five in fourth position, where he rated patiently behind Northern Bay.
Fog Island tired on the final turn, and Sporty seized the lead. The Julie Gomena-trained veteran jumped the last in front, with Gimme Five and Northern Bay right behind him. Northern Bay and Ross Geraghty surged after the obstacle and briefly grabbed the lead, but Sporty quickly regained the advantage.
Keeping Gimme Five on the outside, Doyle pressed he English-bred over the last hurdle and gradually gained ground on the front two until taking the lead inside the sixteenth pole and drawing clear in the final strides.
Murphy said that, if Gimme Five emerges from the race in good order, he and Naylor might consider a start late in the Saratoga meet.
Jacobson, who claimed All Together, is no stranger to jump racing. In 2011, he claimed Mabou early in the Saratoga meet and brought him back to win the New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1).