Lead Us Not, winner of an allowance-optional claiming race on Aug. 12, will attempt to give owner Bill Pape and trainer Jonathan Sheppard an unprecedented sweep of Saratoga Race Course’s steeplechase races when he starts in a $53,000 allowance-optional claimer on Thursday, Sept. 2. The 2 3/8-mile race over National Fences will conclude the 2010 schedule of jump racing at the historic upstate New York track
Brian Crowley, who rode Lead Us Not to a three-quarter-length victory in the earlier allowance-optional claimer at 2 1/16 miles, will again be in the saddle. The eight-year-old Royal Anthem gelding, bred by Pape and Sheppard, was entered for a $30,000 claiming price and most likely will be favored when he lines up against nine opponents.
Also entered for a $30,000 tag was Irvin Naylor’s Dr. Bloomer, who finished second in the $50,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) at Colonial Downs on July 11 and then was seventh behind Pape’s Divine Fortune in Saratoga’s $75,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 2) on Aug. 5. Darren Nagle will ride the nine-year-old Fantastic Fellow gelding for trainer Desmond Fogarty.
Also entering the field from stakes competition is Mark Dodson’s Moon Dolly, who finished fifth to Pape’s Sermon of Love in the $70,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 29. Trained by Tom Voss, the nine-year-old Kris S. mare is looking for her first victory since the 2009 Valentine Memorial at Fair Hill, Md. Jody Petty has the mount.
Voss also will saddle Dumbarton Farm’s homebred Easy Red, who picks up the services of champion jockey Paddy Young. The eight-year-old Charismatic gelding pulled up and left the course at the final fence of the Aug. 12 race.
Three other starters in that allowance-optional claimer are returning to try Lead Us Not again. Mrs. George M. Sensor’s Riddle set the pace to the final fence before tiring to finish fourth. Trained by Will Phipps, the nine-year-old Wagon Limit gelding won a $20,000 claiming race at Colonial on June 13 and was fifth in the Ferguson. Danielle Hodsdon picks up the mount.
Chadds Ford Stable’s Saluda Sam finished fifth after being rank on the inside for much of the race. Trained by Kathy McKenna, the five-year-old Adcat gelding will be ridden by Carl Rafter.
All Together, owned by Sheila Williams and Andre Brewster, left the course at the final fence. Trainer Jack Fisher named Xavier Aizpuru to ride All Together, who won a maiden special weight race at Penn National Race Course on June 18.
Pape and Racing Hall of Fame trainer Sheppard began their unprecedented run with a score by Sermon of Love in the Kiser, and Divine Fortune took the A. P. Smithwick the following week. Lead Us Not did his part in the allowance-optional claimer, and Sermon of Love came back to win the $100,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) on Aug. 26.
Pape and Sheppard have been an owner-trainer team since the 1970s, and they have campaigned four champions: Athenian Idol, Martie’s Anger, Flatterer, and Mixed Up, who was last year’s Eclipse Award winner. Flatterer, a four-time champion owned by Pape, Sheppard, and George Harris, was inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame in 1994, four years after Sheppard’s plaque went up on the wall at the National Museum of Racing in Saratoga Springs.
With support from their Saratoga blitz, Pape and Sheppard lead their respective divisions in the 2010 National Steeplechase Association standings. Pape’s Saratoga earnings total $186,050, and Sheppard’s purses were $237,590 from the four races to date.
–Written by Don Clippinger