Mabou, a $30,000 claim in his most recent start, surged powerfully through Saratoga Race Course’s stretch, passed Irish invader Dirar, and drew away to a 5 3/4-length victory in the $100,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) on Thursday, Aug. 25. Dynaski finished third in the richest jump race on the Saratoga schedule.
Taken from an optional allowance three weeks earlier at the Upstate New York meet by Drawing Away Stable and trainer David Jacobson, Mabou went off at 16.60-1 and paid $35.20 for a $2 win ticket. The eight-year-old Dynaformer gelding carried the 138-pound low weight in the handicap and benefited from a savvy ride by Robbie Walsh, who was aboard for the first time. Mabou ran the New York Turf Writers’ 2 3/16 miles over ten National Fences in 4:40.72 on firm turf.
Irv Naylor’s Decoy Daddy took the lead at the start but was succeeded by Straight to It as the field of nine passed the finish line for the first time. Straight to It, owned by Sheila Williams and Andre Brewster, led for the first two miles, while Dirar and jockey Barry Geraghty were tucked in on the inside and Mabou hugged the hedge at the back of the field.
Nearing the ninth fence, Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune, ridden by Brian Crowley, moved up on the inside, and the two-time A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 2) winner appeared ready to challenge for the lead. He and Decoy Daddy bumped repeatedly on the final turn, and Decoy Daddy fell near the three-eighths pole. Pape’s Sermon of Love, last year’s New York Turf Writers winner and half of the 1.70-to-1 favored entry with Divine Fortune, was unable to avoid Decoy Daddy and unseated jockey Darren Nagle. Both horses were uninjured.
Dirar and Mabou launched their attacks on the final turn, with Walsh tipping Mabou to the outside at the top of the stretch. Dirar held a one-length lead at the last fence, but Mabou outsprinted him to the finish line. “He had a great inside trip,” Walsh said. “Turning for home, he was like a slingshot and took off. It was pretty impressive.”
Jacobson, son of the late New York trainer Buddy Jacobson, said the New York Turf Writers was his first graded stakes victory. “I trained him like I train and take care of all my horses, and he responded to it, obviously,” he said.
One change, however, was strategic. “He’s been running on the pace, I told the jockey, ‘Let’s try taking him back.’ I didn’t want him as far back as he was, but I left it up to Robbie, and Robbie did an amazing job judging the horse. He said he was relaxed and did whatever he asked him to.”
Dirar, trained in Ireland by Gordon Elliott, easily held second, two lengths clear of Armata Stable’s Dynaski. Divine Fortune finished fourth but was disqualified to last for interference on the final turn.