Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard is looking to keep alive his streak of winning at least one Saratoga Race Course race each season since 1969, and he will have a hot prospect in Lune de Caro for Wednesday’s $65,000 optional allowance hurdle.
The 2 3/8-mile race over National Fences will close out this week’s schedule of jump racing. The $75,000 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes scheduled for Thursday did not attract sufficient entries and will again be offered on Monday, Aug. 24.
Tamara McSorley’s Lune de Caro is undefeated over fences and most recently scored a 2 3/4-length victory in a $35,000 Ratings Handicap at Parx Racing on July 14. The six-year-old Cozzene gelding again will be ridden by Willie McCarthy.
Owner Bruce Smart Jr. and trainer Jimmy Day have been playing a hot hand lately, most recently with Bonded’s victory in a Saratoga allowance hurdle last week, and they will be represented by Orchestra Leader in Wednesday’s contest.
Most recently fifth in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on Aug. 3, Orchestra Leader finished second to Lune de Caro in the Parx Racings Handicap and won Foxfield Spring’s Daniel Van Clief optional allowance hurdle on April 25. Sean McDermott has the mount.
Robbie Walsh will be aboard current top owner Gil Johnston’s Fantastic Song, winner of an optional hurdle at the High Hope Steeplechase in Lexington, Ky., on May 17. Fanneka Bentley trains the Lemon Drop Kid gelding.
Irv Naylor, the reigning champion owner and a close second in the current standings, will be represented by Nearby, who finished fourth behind Lune de Caro in the Parx Ratings Handicap. Jack Doyle will ride for trainer Cyril Murphy.
Here is the field for the $65,000 optional allowance hurdle:
Forgotten Man. 2008 ch. g., Bowman’s Band—Hark the Sound (GB), by Robellino. Owner: Betsy Mead. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Brendan Crowley. Breeder: Betsy B. Mead (Ky.) 2015 record: 3-1-0-1, $17,500. 2014 record: 5-0-1-1, $10,450. Won Stoneybrook’s Sandhills Cup optional allowance hurdle to kick off 2015 season, then was third in Foxfield Spring’s Daniel Van Clief Memorial optional allowance hurdle. Pulled up in High Hope optional allowance hurdle on May 17.
Nearby (GB). 2004 b. g., King’s Best—Contiguous, by Danzig. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Juddmonte Stables (GB). 2015 record: 2-0-1-0, $5,750. 2014 record: 4-0-0-0, $5,400. Finished fourth in Parx Ratings Handicap on July 14 after fifth in Fair Hill Ratings Handicap. Fourth in High Hope and Atlanta Cup optional allowance hurdles.
Fantastic Song. 2009 b. g., Lemon Drop Kid—Fantastic Shirl, by Fantastic Light. Owner: Mrs. S. K. Johnston. Trainer: Fanneka Bentley. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. Breeder: Dell Ridge Farm (Ky.). 2015 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $16,750. 2014 record: No starts. Won High Hope optional allowance hurdle on May 17. In first start in more than a year and a half, finished fourth in Middleburg Spring optional allowance hurdle.
Orchestra Leader. 2009 b. g., Van Nistelrooy—Magic of Life, by Seattle Slew. Owner: S. Bruce Smart Jr. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Strategy Bloodstock (Ky.) 2015 record: 4-1-2-0, $28,800. 2014 record: 6-1-0-2, $12,500. Finished fifth in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes after second in Ratings Handicap at Parx on July 14. Opened 2015 season with win in Foxfield Spring’s Daniel Van Clief Memorial optional allowance race on April 25.
So Outspoken. 2010 b. g., Bernardini—Green Door, by Danzig. Owner: B More Hopeful Racing. Trainer: Jazz Napravnik. Jockey: Mark Watts. Breeders: Austin Paul and Brenda Paul (Ont.) 2015 record: 7-2-0-0, $31,700. Has had a busy spring and summer, most recently with a sixth-place finish in Saratoga allowance hurdle on Aug. 5. Finished fourth in an Aiken Spring maiden hurdle in his debut over fences, followed by a maiden win at Stoneybrook and a Ratings Handicap victory at the Atlanta Steeplechase.
Lune de Caro. 2009 gr. or ro. g., Cozzene—Widow’s Mite (Ire), by Sadler’s Wells. Owner: Tamara McSorley. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: La Bahia Stud (Tex.) 2015 NSA record: 2-2-0-0, $33,000. Moves into Jonathan Sheppard’s barn after winning first two starts over fences, most recently a Ratings Hurdle at Parx on July 14. Won hurdle maiden at High Hope shortly after winning flat maiden at Cincinnati’s Belterra Park on May 3.