Timber Bay Farm’s History Boy jumped to the lead at the final fence of Saratoga Race Course’s $75,000 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes and drew away to an overpowering 9 1/4-length victory in the featured steeplechase race on Thursday, August 16.
Kinross Corp.’s Saint Dynaformer ran strongly through the final quarter-mile to take second place from The Fields Stable’s Wanganui, who finished 2 1/4 lengths farther back in third. Trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard and ridden by Brian Crowley, History Boy went off as the 2.85-1 second betting choice and ran the Walsh’s 2 3/8 miles in 4:35.36
Armata Stable’s Cornhusker finished an amazing fourth after he stumbled a stride past the final fence, slid to his knees with jockey Kieren Norris grasping his neck, regained his footing, and resumed running to the finish line.
The Walsh, named for the popular Racing Hall of Fame trainer, was the second consecutive victory for History Boy, who runs in the stable silks of the Entenmann family. In a Penn National Race Course optional allowance hurdle on June 30, the six-year-old Grand Slam gelding wore down Wanganui to win by a neck.
As expected, Irvin S. Naylor’s reigning novice champion Lake Placid went to the lead at the start, with Cornhusker stalking his pace and History Boy in midpack with Wanganui, the 2.10-1 favorite after his second-place finish in the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 26. On the final circuit of the Saratoga inner turf course, Cornhusker took the lead at the next to last fence as History Boy and Wanganui moved into striking position.
Their challenges came at the final fence, where History Boy grabbed the advantage and quickly drew clear. Saint Dynaformer’s charge carried him past Wanganui inside the sixteenth pole.
The wide-open battle for this year’s novice championship—for horses in their first years of competition over fences—continues with the $50,000 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes at the inaugural Steeplechase Festival at Saratoga on Saturday, Sept. 15.
The Walsh was the second of two steeplechase races on the Thursday program. In the first, a $65,000 optional allowance hurdle, Sheila Williams’ and Andre Brewster’s Virsito set all the pace under Willie Dowling and drew clear to a 3 3/4-length victory over Bill Pape’s The Price of Love, the 2.40-1 favorite.
Trained by Jack Fisher, Virsito went off at 3.90-1 after winning a $25,000 maiden hurdle at the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville on May 19. The Dynaformer horse ran the 2 3/8-mile distance in 4:41.73 on firm turf.