Virginia Lazenby’s Help From Heaven needed plenty of help—provided by jockey Kieran Norris—to overcome double trouble and score a hard-fought victory Wednesday in a $65,000 allowance hurdle at Saratoga Race Course.
Help From Heaven was poised to go to the lead approaching the final fence of the 2 1/16-mile jumps race when he stumbled over the fence and then had another horse cross in his path. Norris immediately went to work on the four-year-old Divine Park gelding, although Bill Pape’s Castle Hill grabbed the lead from early pacesetter Dyna’s Vow at the top of the final turn.
Norris steered Help From Heaven through an opening to the outside as the field of nine turned into the stretch. Duodecim Stable’s All for Us made a strong move beside Help From Heaven and grabbed the lead just before the furlong pole on Saratoga’s Mellon Turf Course.
Under strong left-handed urging from his jockey, Help From Heaven fought back and grabbed a narrow lead at the furlong marker. All for Us battled on gamely under Connor Hankin and closed slightly at the finish line to finish second, a neck behind Help From Heaven.
Gil Johnston’s Share Out closed ground to finish third, 3 1/2 lengths farther back, and Castle Hill took fourth. Dyna’s Vow, owned by Amy Taylor Rowe, finished fifth after setting the pace to the top of the final turn.
Trained by Doug Fout, Help From Heaven scored his second victory of the year, after a Monmouth Park maiden score in June. He ran the 2 1/16-mile distance over eight fences in 3:54.11 on firm turf. He went off as the 3.70-to-1 second betting choice and paid $9.40 to win.
Fout said he shared Norris’ apprehension when Help From Heaven appeared to jump too close to the last fence and stumbled slightly on landing. “I was impressed with how he won,” the Virginia-based trainer said. “He lost all his momentum when the other horse came in front of him. He had to come back through all those horses.”
North Star Boy, making his first jumps start in more than a year, went off as the 3.20-to-1 favorite in a highly competitive betting field. He was nervous in the paddock and never found his heading. Last early, he passed tiring horses to finish seventh.