The last time Mr. Hot Stuff, Modem, and All the Way Jose met on the race course, they reached the finish line within a foot of each other. These seasoned rivals will clash again Saturday in the $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), the centerpiece of the 77th annual Iroquois Steeplechase.
The richest race on the National Steeplechase Association’s spring schedule, the Calvin Houghland Iroquois tests the nation’s top hurdlers over three miles on the undulating course at Nashville’s Percy Warner Park.
They last competed together at 2 5/8 miles in the Grand National (Gr. 1) at the Far Hills Races last October, and Gillian Johnston’s Mr. Hot Stuff finished a nose ahead of Robert Kinsley’s Modem, who in turn was a nose ahead of Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose.
Trained by Elizabeth Voss, Modem has had a maddening string of four second-place finishes in Grade 1 races since arriving in the U.S. Jack Doyle, currently leading the jockey standings, has the mount on British-bred Modem.
Mr. Hot Stuff and All the Way Jose opened their 2018 season in Middleburg Spring’s Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 2), with All the Way Jose checking in fourth and Mr. Hot Stuff fifth. All the Way Jose, trained by Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, will be ridden by reigning champion jockey Darren Nagle.
Mr. Hot Stuff’s trainer, Jack Fisher, tapped Ireland-based jockey Danny Mullins for a chance to reprise his Grand National victory.
Ross Geraghty will be ride Zanjabeel for owners Rosbrian Farm and Wendy and Ben Griswold. Trained by Ricky Hendriks, the English-bred import finished second in both the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) on March 31 and the Temple Gwathmey on April 21.
Leading owner Irv Naylor, who has won the Iroquois three times (Rawnaq in 2016 and Tax Ruling in 2010 and 2011), will have two representatives in the 2018 edition. Leslie Young trains Jamarjo, seventh in the Temple Gwathmey, and Cyril Murphy trains Sempre Medici, who was pulled up in that race. Kieran Norris rides Jamarjo, and Graham Watters will be aboard Sempre Medici.
Rather Be Racing’s Kremlin, also trained by Fisher, most likely will lay down the early pace after his front-running score in a Queen’s Cup ratings handicap on April 28. Willie McCarthy has the mount.
Here is the field for the $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois. Post positions will be drawn Thursday. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles. All Iroquois starters carry 158 pounds.
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: 2-0-4-0, $153,000. 27,000. Finished second in four 2017 Grade 1 races: Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial and New York Turf Writers Cup; Belmont’s Lonesome Glory Handicap; and Grand National (Gr. 1). Arrived in U.S. after allowance victory in provincial Irish track Ballinrobe. Durable gelding has seven wins in 47 career starts. (145)
Jamarjo (Ire). 2007 b. g., Marju—Athlumney Lady, by Lycius. Owner; Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Frank Dunne (Ire). 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2017 NSA record: 4-1-1-0, $56,400. 2016 record: 5-1-1-2, $55,500. Finished eighth in 2018 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Won Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) easily after second in Foxfield Spring’s 2017 Daniel Van Clief Memorial optional allowance hurdle. Finished fourth in Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J. (133)
Zanjabeel (GB). 2013 b. g., Aussie Rules—Grain Only, by Machiavellian. Owners: Rosbrian Farm and Ben and Wendy Griswold. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geragthy. Breeder: Kirsten Rausing (GB). 2018 record: 2-0-2-0, $27,000. 2017 NSA record: 2-2-0-0, $120,000. Finished second in 2018 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) and Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Drew away to a 4 3/4-length victory in Far Hills’ 2017 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, his U.S. debut for former owners and trainer Gordon Elliott. For new owners, won Steeplechase at Callaway’s Aflac Supreme Hurdle by 2 3/4 lengths. Made mixture of flat and hurdle starts in 2017, with handicap hurdle win in June and a flat win in July. (139)
Mr. Hot Stuff. 2006 dk. b. or br. g., Tiznow—Sweet Damsel, by Turkoman. Owner: Gillian Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Danny Mullins. Breeder: WinStar Farm (Ky.) 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $3,000. 2017 record: 5-1-0-1, $251,000. Finished fifth in 2018 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Claimed Lonesome Glory Award as 2017’s leading earner with gutsy win in Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J. Finished fifth in Belmont Park’s 2017 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Finished third in 2017 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3) after missing 2016 season, then was pulled up in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) and seventh in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Won 2015 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3). Won the 2013 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) at Saratoga. (146)
Sempre Medici (Fr). 2010 b. g., Medicean—Sambala, by Danehill Dancer. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Graham Watters. Breeders: Myriam Bollack, Noel Forgeard, and E.A.R.L. du Haras de Pierrepont (Fr). 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2017 NSA record: No starts. Tired and was pulled up in 2018 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2), his first U.S. start. Competed at top level in England and Ireland for trainer Willie Mullins before being imported. Easily won trials preceding the 2016 Champion Hurdle, in which he was pulled up after the next-to-last fence. Female-line descendant of foundation mare Best in Show, by Traffic Judge. (143)
Kremlin. 2012 ch. g., Eskendereya—Dock Leaf, by Woodman. Owner: Rather Be Racing stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Juddmonte Farm (Ky.) 2018 record: 1-1-0-0, $18,000. 2017 record: 6-1-2-1, $43,284. 2016 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $2,850. Won 2018 Queen’s Cup ratings handicap by 10 lengths after setting all the pace. Concluded 2017 season with second in Far Hills’ Appleton Stakes. Broke into the win column with a front-running score at 2017 Iroquois Steeplechase, then was unplaced in two Saratoga allowance hurdles. (125)
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.) 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $ 3,750. 2017 record: 7-2-1-3, $179,300. Began 2018 with third in Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2) at Middleburg Spring. Won 2017 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Finished third in Grand National (Gr. 1), beaten two noses. Won Fair Hill’s $40,000 Valentine Memorial ratings handicap by 15 1/4 lengths, then lost rider in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and was third in New York Turf Writers (Gr. 1). Novice champion in 2014. (146)