Wendy Hendriks’ Any Given Royal, unbeaten in his two jumps starts this year, will put that mark on the line Wednesday in a well-matched field of eight in Saratoga Race Course’s $65,000 allowance hurdle.
Trained by the owner’s son, Ricky Hendriks, the eight-year-old Any Given Saturday gelding will be ridden by Michael Mitchell.
The Hendriks-Mitchell combination is also riding a hot streak. Mitchell, the English-born jockey who arrived on these shores by way of New Zealand, has shown no ill effects from a serious fall in April and won Saratoga’s first two steeplechase stakes races, the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes aboard Show Court on July 26 and the A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on Swansea Mile the following day.
Pennsylvania-based Hendriks trains Swansea Mile for Rosbrian Farm, and he currently ranks second by trainer earnings behind perennial leader Jack Fisher. Any Given Royal kicked off Hendriks’ big season with a maiden win at the Aiken Spring Steeplechase on March 25 and then won a Tryon Block House allowance hurdle three weeks later in North Carolina.
Any Given Royal will carry the allowance race’s 156-pound top weight under the allowance conditions for the 2 1/16 race over eight fences.
With his Smithwick win, Hendriks dislodged Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard from the second spot on the trainer earnings table. For Wednesday’s allowance hurdle, Sheppard will saddle Maram LLC’s Alcazar de Maram, whose only start this year was a victory in a Parx Racing flat race for hurdlers on July 8.
The Giant’s Causeway five-year-old showed what he could do over fences last November when he left a maiden field adrift by almost 40 lengths at the Colonial Cup in South Carolina. Darren Nagle returns to ride Alcazar de Maram, who has found his best stride on the front.
Fisher, who leads the current-year trainer standings by more than $350,000, will saddle Rather Be Racing’s Kremlin, a maiden winner at the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville on May 13. Apprentice jockey Keith Dalton has the mount on Kremlin, who carries 151 with the five-pound bug allowance.
Also coming into Wednesday’s race from a maiden hurdle score is Straylight Racing’s Invocation, a French-bred who won by 16 lengths at the Radnor Hunt Races on May 19. Sean McDermott has the mount for trainer Leslie Young.
Here is the field for Wednesday’s 1 p.m. first race at Saratoga. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Kremlin. 2012 ch. g., Eskendereya—Dock Leaf, by Woodman. Owner: Rather Be Racing stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Keith Dalton. Breeder: Juddmonte Farm (Ky.) 2017 record: 3-1-1-1, $31,900. 2016 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $2,850. Broke into the win column with a front-running score at Iroquois Steeplechase. Before that, had a third at Steeplechase at Charleston and a second at Queen’s Cup. (116)
Any Given Royal. 2009 b. g., Any Given Saturday—Really Royal, by Unreal Zeal. Owner: Wendy W. Hendriks. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Ben Lengacher (Ky.) 2017 record: 2-2-0-0, $30,000. 2016 record: 1-0-0-0, $900. Won 2017 Tryon Block House allowance hurdle after handy maiden victory at Aiken Spring. Debuted over fences with sixth at 2016 Colonial Cup. (116)
Unsinkable (Ire). 2010 gr. g., Verglas—Heart’s Desire, by Royal Applause (GB). Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Stephanie Hanly (Ire). 2017 record: 3-0-2-0, $14,350. 2016 NSA record: 4-1-0-1, $21,500. Finished second in 2017 Virginia Gold Cup allowance hurdle, then was fourth against good group at Radnor Hunt Races. Finished closed second in Parx flat race in July after winning the race a year earlier. Refused and finished eighth in 2016 Saratoga races. Won 2016 Middleburg Spring maiden hurdle. (117)
Reporter. 2012 b. g., Yes It’s True—Skirmish, by War Chant. Owner: Beverly R. Steinman. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Beverly R. Steinman (Ky.). 2017 record: 3-0-0-0, $2,90000. 2016 record: 4-1-1-0, $24,500. Finished fifth in 2017 Radnor allowance hurdle after being pulled up in Virginia Gold Cup allowance hurdle, then was fourth in Parx handicap hurdle. Won 2016 Suffolk Downs maiden hurdle by 9 3/4 lengths in third start over fences. Passed tiring horses to finish fifth in Saratoga allowance hurdle. (112)
Alcazar de Maram. 2012 dk. b. h., Giant’s Causeway—Maram, by Sahm. Owner: Maram LLC. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Hair ’Em Corp. (Ky.) 2017 NSA record: No starts. 2016 NSA record: 4-1-2-0, $29,900. Found the front end in his final 2016 start, a $30,000 maiden hurdle at the Colonial Cup, and galloped away to a nearly 40-length victory. Finished second in his first two starts over fences. Won a Parx flat race in July over competitor who came back to finish third in a Grade 1 race. (116)
Personal Start. 2011 dk. b. or br. g., Jump Start—Personal Doreen, by Personal Flag. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Shane Crimin. Breeder: Magalen O. Bryant (Ky.) 2017 record: 2-0-0-1, $6,000. 2016 record: 5-1-0-1, $23,800. Opened 2017 with third in Tryon Block House allowance hurdle, then stumbled at Iroquois Steeplechase and finished fourth. Won 2016 Atlanta Cup maiden hurdle and fell in Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at Iroquois Steeplechase. Set early pace and tired to finish sixth in Saratoga allowance hurdle. (113)
Zio Elio. 2013 ch. g., American Lion—Runaway Zia, by Runaway Groom. Owner: Edition Farm. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeders: Christopher Shelli, Patrick Morell, and Darby Dan Farm (N.Y.) 2017 record: 2-1-0-0, $15,900. In debut start over fences, won 2017 Queen’s Cup maiden hurdle, then tired to finish sixth in Parx handicap hurdle. Maiden on the flat at New York tracks. (114)
Invocation (Fr). 2013 dk. b. g., Intense Focus—Fabiola, by Medicean. Owner: Straylight Racing. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: E.A.R.L. Elevage Des Loges (Fr). 2017 record: 2-1-1-0, $19,500. 2016 NSA record: 2-1-0-1, $20,000. Drew away to a 16 1/2-length win in a 2017 Radnor ratings handicap after second in Queen’s Cup ratings handicap. Won a 2016 Colonial Cup allowance hurdle by 18 lengths after third in Far Hills’ Gladstone Stakes, his U.S. debut. Maiden on flat in England but frequently in the money. (120)