A highly competitive field headed by National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) winner Surprising Soul and Valentine Memorial winner Mutasaawy will line up Wednesday for Saratoga Race Course’s $75,000 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes, which will be run in memory of retired National Steeplechase Association Executive Vice President Charles T. Colgan.
The 2 3/8-mile Walsh will be the first race on the Saratoga program with a 1 p.m. post time.
In his only start this year, Wendy Hendriks’ Surprising Soul dominated Radnor Hunt Races’ $50,000 National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) by 10 3/4 lengths on soft turf. Ross Geraghty, who has been aboard the six-year-old Perfect Soul gelding for all 11 of his jump starts, will again ride for trainer Ricky Hendriks.
Owned by Gillian Johnston and trained by Neil Morris, Mutasaawy overcame two subpar performances earlier in the spring to win the $40,000 Valentine Memorial, a ratings handicap at the Fair Hill Races on May 26.
Most recently, he finished second as the 1.45-to-1 favorite in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 25, 1 1/2 lengths behind New Member, who is nominated to Thursday’s $175,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1). Michael Mitchell again will ride Mutasaawy.
Virginia-based Morris also will saddle Thomas Hulfish’s Swellelegent, who held on for a nose victory in a Monmouth Park handicap hurdle as the 13-to-10 favorite on Aug. 9. Kieran Norris takes over the mount from Mitchell.
Jack Doyle, currently leading the jockey standings by both wins and earnings, will be aboard Robert A. Kinsley’s No Wunder for trainer Elizabeth Voss. A Saratoga allowance hurdle winner last August, the Rock of Gibraltar (Ire) seven-year-old finished second in the Valentine.
Coming off a Saratoga allowance victory is Carrington Holdings’ Boss Man, a 2 1/4-length winner on Aug. 1. Trained by Arch Kingsley Jr., the Florida-bred will be ridden by Sean McDermott.
Irv Naylor, always near the top of the owner rankings, will unveil two newcomers to American racing in the Walsh. Kathy Neilson trains Salix, a French-bred four-year-old who closed out his overseas career with two dominant handicap wins for trainer Ben Pauling. Gerard Galligan will ride.
Willie McCarthy will be aboard Naylor’s Indian Hawk for trainer Leslie Young. The six-year-old Irish-bred is coming off a dominant novice win at Wincanton for trainer Nicky Henderson.
Colgan, the long-serving NSA executive, died in January. Son-in-law of Mickey Walsh, a Racing Hall of Fame trainer, Colgan served the NSA from 1971 until his retirement at the end of 2000.
Here is the field for the $75,000 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes, run in memory of Charles T. Colgan. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Surprising Soul. 2012 b. g., Perfect Soul (Ire)—Elusive Srprise, by Elusive Quality. Owner: Wendy W. Hendriks. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Charles Fipke (Ont.) 2018 record: 1-1-0-0, $30,000. 2017 record: 7-3-0-1, $106,500. Opened 2018 with dominant victory in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3). Advanced to third in Saratoga’s 2017 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes after victory in Iroquois’ $100,000 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. Finished fifth in Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes after being pulled up in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes, then was 10th in Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. (128)
Salix (Fr). 2014 gr. or ro. g., Grey Risk—Yes Mate, by Lord of Men. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Remi Sabatier (Fr). 2018 NSA record: No starts. Graduate of Ben Pauling’s operation arrived in the U.S. from two dominant wins in lower-level hurdle handicaps. Maiden winner on flat in France in November 2017 before converting to jumping.
Mutasaawy. 2010 b. g., Tapit—Pretty Proud, by Mr. Greeley. Owner: Gillian Johnston. Trainer: Neil Morris. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Pretty Proud Syndicate (Ky.). 2018 NSA record: 4-1-1-0, $37,500. 2017 NSA record: 6-2-1-1, $66,900. Won Fair Hill’s 2018 Valentine Memorial ratings handicap before second in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes as favorite. Finished seventh in 2018 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase and fell in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. Impressed in winning 2017 Saratoga allowance hurdle, then finished third in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Novice Stakes. Stumbled and lost his jockey early in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, then was sixth in Aflac Supreme Hurdle. (129)
No Wunder (GB). 2011 b. g., Rock of Gibraltar (Ire)—Iwunder, by King’s Best. Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Executors of the late J. Ellis (GB). 2018 NSA record: 3-0-1-0, $13,500. 2017 NSA record: 8-2-1-1, $67,150. Finished close second in Fair Hill’s 2018 Valentine Memorial ratings handicap. Opened 2018 campaign with second in Carolina Cup for novices, then was fifth in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Drew away impressively to win 2017 Saratoga handicap after good second in similar race. Lost his rider in a freak incident in Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, then was seventh in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. (125)
Swellelegent. 2012 ch. g., Pure Prize—Latania, by Polish Numbers. Owner: Thomas Hulfish III. Trainer: Neil Morris. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Mrs. Arturo Peralta Ramos (Ky.) 2018 NSA record: 2-1-0-0. $21,000. 2017 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $15,000. Held on for a nose victory in 2018 handicap hurdle at Monmouth Park. In only other 2018 start, tired and was pulled up in Tryon Block House allowance hurdle. Won 2017 Montpelier maiden hurdle by 4 1/2 lengths after being pulled up in a Virginia Fall maiden hurdle, his first career start over fences. (115)
Boss Man. 2010 ch. g., English Channel—Jenny Joy, by Acceptable. Owner: Carrington Holdings. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Kinsman Farm (Fla.) 2018 NSA record: 3-2-0-0, $57,000. Won 2018 Saratoga allowance hurdle by front-running 2 1/4 lengths. Graduate of Jason Servis’ flat training operation scored his maiden victory over fences at the 2018 Queen’s Cup. Pulled up in initial start over fences at the Tryon Block House meet. (122)
Indian Hawk (Ire). 2012 b. g., Westerner—Yorkshire Girl, by Anshan. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Leslie F. Young. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Patrick Fennessy (Ire). 2018 NSA record: No starts. Making his U.S. debut in a tough spot. Concluded his career in England with 10-length victory in a steeplechase allowance at Wincanton in May. In previous start, was second as odds-on favorite in a steeplechase allowance at Towcester.