Irvin S. Naylor, American Steeplechasing’s leading owner for the past three years, will field a betting entry composed of Black Quartz and Sacred Soul for Saratoga Race Course’s $75,000 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Thursday, Aug. 15.
The Walsh, for steeplechase horses in their first seasons of competition over fences, attracted a strong field that also includes 2012 champion novice Alajmal, 2012 filly and mare champion Cat Feathers, and other rising stars.
The 2 3/8-mile Walsh will be the second race of Saratoga’s Steeplechase Thursday doubleheader. A field of 11 was entered for the afternoon’s first race, a $65,000 optional allowance.
Now trained by William Dowling, Black Quartz won the $50,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase for novices in North Carolina on April 27 and then finished second in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s $75,000 Marcellus Frost for novices to recent A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) winner Mr. Hot Stuff. In his most recent start, the six-year-old Danehill Dancer (Ire) gelding finished a distant sixth in the $50,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) at Colonial Downs on June 8. Ross Geraghty, the reigning champion jockey, has the mount.
Sacred Soul secured his maiden victory over fences at the Middleburg Spring Races on April 20 and then drew away to a 9 3/4-length score in a Virginia Gold Cup optional allowance on May 4. Now trained by Leslie Young, Sacred Soul will be ridden by the trainer’s husband, top jockey Paddy Young.
Powerofone will be attempting to give longtime owner Bill Pape a sweep of Saratoga’s novice races after Martini Brother won the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 25. A four-year-old by A.P. Indy who sold for $300,000 as a yearling, Powerofone never performed well on the flat, but he showed promise after Pape acquired him last year.
In the hands of Pape’s longtime trainer, Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, Powerofone finished fourth in the Raymond G. Woolfe Memorial in his first start over fences at the Colonial Cup in Camden, S.C., last fall.
He began his 2013 season in Camden, at the Carolina Cup on March 30, and won a $25,000 maiden hurdle. At the Atlanta Steeplechase two weeks later, he powered away to an 8 1/4-length victory in an optional allowance hurdle. He looked to step up in the Marcellus Frost for novices on May 11 but was pulled up in the Nashville race. Darren Nagle has the mount for the Walsh.
Sheppard, who won at Saratoga for the 45th consecutive year with Martini Brother’s score, also will saddle his Barnstorming, who finished a good second in the Kiser. Sean McDermott will ride.
Gregory Hawkins’ Alajmal is attempting to regain his best form after a season-opening score in the $50,000 Carolina Cup for novices. The First Samurai gelding finished sixth in the Queen’s Cup and then was tenth in the Kiser. Hall of Fame trainer Janet Elliot named Richard Boucher to ride.
Cat Feathers, owned and trained by Kate Dalton, kicked off her jumps season with a third-place finish in the Ferguson. The five-year-old Catienus mare won Saratoga’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps Stakes last year and then was second in the Mrs. Walter Jeffords Stakes. The New York-bred mare will be ridden by the owner’s husband, prominent jockey Bernie Dalton.
Entering the Walsh from the Kiser are Clorevia Farm’s Extraextraordinary, who finished third, and Magalen O. Bryant’s Sulwaan, who was sixth. Trainer Doug Fout named Willie McCarthy to ride Extraextraordinary, and Xavier Aizpuru will ride Sulwaan for trainer Jimmy Day.
Making his first U.S. start will be Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Private Equity, who has been performing well in novice steeplechases at English race courses. Trainer Richard Valentine named Robbie Walsh to ride the five-year-old High Yield gelding.
Here are the nine entrants for the $75,000 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes, which honors the memory of the Racing Hall of Fame trainer.
Extraextraordinary. 2007 dk. b. or br. g., Giant’s Causeway—Scoop, by Gone West. Owner: Clorevia Farm. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2013 record: 4-0-0-2, $14,500. 2012 record: 5-2-0-0, $12,100. Closed ground to finish third in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 25. Fell in the Marcellus Frost Stakes for novices at the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville on May 11. Began 2013 season with a third in the Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 3) at Aiken Spring on March 23 and fifth in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at Middleburg Spring Races on April 20.
Cat Feathers. 2008 dk. b. or br. f., Catienus—Mistress Hemming, by Quiet American. Owner-trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2013 record: 2-0-0-1, $5,000. 2012 record: 4-1-1-0, $58,500. 2011 record: 2-1-0-0, $6,000. 2012 Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare Champion. Finished third in Colonial Downs’ $50,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) on June 8 after an unplaced finish in an Iroquois flat race. Upset Saratoga’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps Stakes at 23.30-1 over top field, then finished close second in Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Jr. Stakes last August.
Private Equity (Fr). 2008 b. g., High Yield—Annette Girl (Ire), by Mtoto (GB). Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. 2013 NSA record: No starts. Has been competing well in novice steeplechases at smaller English race courses and won by 17 lengths at Huntingdon in April.
Sacred Soul. 2007 b. g., Perfect Soul (Ire)—Scarab Bracelet, by Riverman. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Paddy Young. 2013 NSA record: 3-2-1-0, $34,500. Making first start since moving into trainer Leslie Young’s barn. Took to jump racing in 2013 and finished second to Powerofone in Carolina Cup maiden race before winning maiden hurdle at Middleburg Spring Races on April 20. Came back in two weeks to win a Virginia Gold Cup allowance hurdle by 9 3/4 lengths.
Powerofone. 2009 b. g., A.P. Indy—Byzantine, by Quiet American. Owner: William L. Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. 2013 record: 3-2-0-0, $33,000. 2012 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,250. Started 2013 with two wins, in Carolina Cup maiden race and optional allowance at the Atlanta Steeplechase, before being pulled up in Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at the Iroquois Steeplechase on May 11.
Alajmal. 2008 b. g., First Samurai—Alattrah, by Shadeed. Owner: Gregory D. Hawkins. Trainer: Janet Elliot. Jockey: Richard Boucher. 2013 record: 3-1-0-0, $33,075. 2012 NSA record: 6-2-1-1, $64,000. Won $50,000 Carolina Cup for novices in first 2013 start but was a distant sixth in the Queen’s Cup and then showed nothing in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 25. Shadwell-bred locked up 2012 novice championship with a victory in a Saratoga optional allowance.
Black Quartz (Fr). 2007 b. g., Danehill Dancer—Mirina, by Pursuit of Love. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: William Dowling. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2013 record: 3-1-1-0, $45,000. 2012 record: 5-2-0-0, $27,000. 2011 NSA record: 1-0-0-1, $2,500. Finished second in Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes on May 11 before weakening to finish sixth in the David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) at Colonial Downs on June 8. Won $50,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase by 2 3/4 lengths in first 2013 start. Making first start for trainer William Dowling.
Sulwaan (Ire). 2007 b. g., King’s Best—Iktidar (GB), by Green Desert. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Xavier Aizpuru. 2013 NSA record: 4-1-0-1, $24,750. Finished even sixth in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 25. Won the featured Daniel Van Clief Memorial allowance hurdle at Foxfield Spring on April 27 before third in Marcellus Frost at the Iroquois Steeplechase on May 11. Winner over hurdles in Ireland fell in his first U.S. start, Aiken Spring’s optional allowance.
Barnstorming. 2006 b. g., Thunder Gulch—Soul of the Cat, by Stravinsky. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Sean McDermott. 2013 record: 4-0-1-0, $20,500. 2012 record: 2-0-0-1, $8,000. Finished good second in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 25. Fourth in the National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) at the Radnor Hunt Races on May 18 and the Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase in North Carolina on April 27. Finished fifth in Carolina Cup in his 2013 debut.