A robust field of 12, including three newcomers making their first U.S. starts, will face the starter Thursday in the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1), Saratoga Race Course’s premier jump race.
The 2 3/8-mile New York Turf Writers will be the afternoon’s first race, with a 1 p.m. post time. Also in the talent-laden field are the 2016 New York Turf Writers winner and three winners of Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial, also a Grade 1 race.
Carrying the 156-pound highweight will be Robert A. Kinsley’s Modem, a seven-year-old Irish-bred who is himself a newcomer to American jump racing. In his Stateside debut, Modem finished a solid closing second to Rosbrian Farm’s Swansea Mile in the Smithwick Memorial on July 27.
Jack Doyle will ride Modem for Elizabeth Voss, who also trains The Fields Stable’s Portrade, last year’s front-running New York Turf Writers winner. Winless since that triumph, Irish-bred Portrade will carry 146 pounds and will be ridden by Gus Dahl.
Swansea Mile also was assigned 146 pounds in the handicap of Bill Gallo Jr., the National Steeplechase Association’s director of racing. Trainer Ricky Hendriks named Michael Mitchell to a return engagement on the Irish-bred Swansea Mile.
Gil Johnston’s Mr. Hot Stuff, the 2013 Smithwick Memorial winner, carries the second highweight at 154 pounds, and champion trainer Jack Fisher named Sean McDermott to ride. After missing the 2016 racing season, Mr. Hot Stuff finished third in the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3) and the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) this spring.
Fisher also will saddle Petticoats Loose Stable’s Choral Society, the 2015 Smithwick winner. Danny Mullins, a top young Irish jockey visiting for the week, will ride the Florida-bred Holy Bull gelding, winner of a Saratoga handicap on Aug. 9.
Third in the weights at 150 pounds is Mighty Acorn Stables’ Casino Markets, a new arrival who is trained in Wiltshire, England, by Emma Lavelle. The nine-year-old had three handicap wins in England last year and two third-place finishes at Cheltenham and Sandown in April. Leighton Aspell will ride.
Also representing overseas interests is owner-trainer David Dunne’s Colla Pier, an eight-year-old mare who has two wins from eight starts in Ireland this year. The owner is a former jockey who rode in the U.S., and his brother Robert will be aboard Colla Pier, who carries 137 pounds.
The third newcomer is Three Kingdoms, making his first U.S. start and his first for new owner Gregg Ryan, a former amateur steeplechase jockey. Now trained by New York-based George Weaver, the eight-year-old Street Cry (Ire) gelding has competed in top Irish hurdles and has good flat speed. Sean Flanagan will ride Three Kingdoms, who carries 144 pounds.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard will saddle Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose and Maram LLC’s Alcazar de Maram. All the Way Jose, the 2014 novice champion, lost his jockey in this year’s Smithwick Memorial, and will be ridden by leading jockey Darren Nagle at 144 pounds. Alcazar de Maram, the bottom weight at 136, most recently finished fifth in a Saratoga allowance hurdle and will be ridden by Gerard Galligan.
The current top novice is Mark W. Buyck Jr.’s Show Court, who scored his third win of the year in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 26. Ross Geraghty gets a return call for trainer Arch Kingsley Jr.
Completing the field is Flying Elvis Stable’s Diplomat, who finished a distant third in the Smithwick Memorial. Trainer Kate Dalton named husband Bernie to ride Diplomat, who carries 138 pounds.
Here is the field for the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) in post-position order. The handicap weights are in parentheses.
All the Way Jose. 2010 b. g., Senor Swinger—Maternity Leave, by Northern Baby. Owner: Buttonwood Farm. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Jonathan Sheppard (Pa.) 2017 record: 4-1-1-1, $34,300. 2016 NSA record: 3-0-0-0, $7,500. 2015 record: 3-0-0-0, $3,750. Won Fair Hill’s $40,000 Valentine Memorial ratings handicap by 15 1/4 lengths, then lost rider in Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Finished third in 2017 Tryon Block House handicap, then was second in Iroquois ratings handicap. Clinched 2014 novice championship with Foxbrook Champion Hurdle victory. (144)
Modem (GB). 2010 b. g., Motivator—Alashaan, (GB), by Darshaan (GB). Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeders: Mr. and Mrs. D. J. Deer (GB). 2017 NSA record: 1-0-1-0, $27,000. Finished closing second in Saratoga’s 2017 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), his American debut. Arrived in U.S. after allowance victory in provincial Irish track Ballinrobe. Durable gelding has seven wins in 47 career starts. (156)
Portrade (Ire). 2009 b. g., Trade Fair (GB)—Portorosa, by Irish River (Fr). Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Gus Dahl. Breeder: Keene Bloodstock (Ire). 2017 record: 3-0-1-0, $19,000. 2016 record: 4-1-0-2, $111,800. 2015 record: 2-0-0-0, $2,500. Opened 2017 with game second in Middleburg Spring’s Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3), then faded to fourth in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) and fourth in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Won the 2016 New York Turf Writers (Gr. 1) after setting all the pace. (146)
Show Court (Ire). 2009 b. g., Vinnie Roe—Sparking Gem, by Revoque. Owner: Mark W. Buyck Jr. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Grange Stud (Ire). 2017 NSA record: 4-2-1-0, $107,500. 2016 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $0. Won Saratoga’s 2017 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Won 2017 Carolina Cup by seven lengths, then finished second in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Finished distant fifth in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. Won maiden over hurdles in Ireland in late 2015. (146)
Alcazar de Maram. 2012 dk. b. h., Giant’s Causeway—Maram, by Sahm. Owner: Maram LLC. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Hair ’Em Corp. (Ky.) 2017 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $1,950. 2016 NSA record: 4-1-2-0, $29,900. Led to the last fence in a 2017 Saratoga allowance and faded to fifth. 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. (136)
Diplomat. 2009 b. g., Kitten’s Joy—Waki Affair, by Miswaki. Owner: Flying Elvis Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeders: Ken and Sarah Ramsey (Ky.) 2017 NSA record: 4-0-0-2, $23,750. 2016 record: 2-0-0-0, $3,000. 2015 record: 7-3-0-0, $126,750. Began 2017 with fourth in Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle, then was fifth in Virginia Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) and third in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial ratings handicap and Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Won 2015 International Gold Cup’s Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3). Bred by champion owners-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey and is a full brother to stakes-placed Kitten Love. (138)
Colla Pier (Ire). 2009 b. m., Hawk Wing—Medalha Milagrosa, by Miner’s Mark. Owner-trainer: David Dunne. Jockey: Robert Dunne. Breeder: Simba Holdings (Ire). 2017 NSA record: No starts. Has two wins in Irish handicaps in 2017. County Meath-based owner-trainer rode professionally and has experience in U.S. Jockey is his brother. (137)
Mr. Hot Stuff. 2006 dk. b. or br. g., Tiznow—Sweet Damsel, by Turkoman. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: WinStar Farm (Ky.) 2017 record: 2-0-0-1, $5,000. 2016 record: No starts. Finished third in 2017 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3) after missing 2016 season, then was pulled up in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Won 2015 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) and then was second in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) Won the 2013 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) at Saratoga. (154)
Casino Markets (Ire). 2008 br. g., Fruits of Love—Vals Dream, by Pierre. Owner: Mighty Acorn Stables. Trainer: Emma Lavelle. Jockey: Leighton Aspell. Breeder: Ms. V. Cronin (Ire). 2017 NSA record: No starts. From Wiltshire stable of innovative National Hunt trainer, had three wins in 2016 and two third-place finishes in the spring of 2017, at Cheltenham and Sandown in April. (150)
Swansea Mile (Ire). 2010 b. g., Dylan Thomas (Ire)—Hurry Up Helen, by In the Wings (GB). Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: W. Kane (Ire). 2017 record: 4-1-1-1, $100,900. 2016 NSA record: 3-0-0-0, $7,500. Won Saratoga’s 2017 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) at 28.50-to-1. Opened 2017 with second in Steeplechase of Charleston’s featured optional allowance hurdle and then was fourth in Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3). Finished third in High Hope’s featured optional allowance hurdle. Finished fourth in Belmont Park’s 2016 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) in U.S. debut. (146)
Three Kingdoms (Ire). 2009 ch. g., Street Cry (Ire)—Chan Tong, by Hampstead. Owner: Colvin G. Ryan. Trainer: George Weaver. Jockey: Sean Flanagan. Breeder: Darley (Ire). 2017 NSA record: No starts. Upset at 33-to-1 the 2017 Irish Stallion Farms EBF Handicap at the Curragh, going two miles on the flat, before unplaced finish in Galway Plate Steeplechase. Finished fourth in Guinness Kerry National Steeplechase in September 2016. (144)
Choral Society. 2009 gr. or ro. g., Holy Bull—Star Singer, by Awesome Again. Owner: Petticoats Loose Farm. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Danny Mullins. Breeder: Mayo West Farm and Liam Benson (Fla.) 2017 NSA record: 3-1-0-0, $43,500. 2016 record: No starts. 2015 record: 4-1-0-1, $82,500. Won 2017 Saratoga handicap. Pulled up in 2017 Tryon Block House handicap and then was sixth in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3). Scored a 16.20-to-1 upset in 2015 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), then was pulled up in the Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). (144)