A highly competitive and well-matched field will line up Wednesday for a $65,000 allowance hurdle as steeplechase racing winds up its 2018 stand at historic Saratoga Race Course.
The 2 3/8-mile race over National Fences will be the afternoon’s first race, with a 1 p.m. post time.
Serendipity Stables’ Dark Gemini, a closing second in a Saratoga allowance hurdle on Aug. 1, again will be ridden by Willie McCarthy. Jack Fisher will saddle the five-year-old Irish-bred.
Also coming out of the Aug. 1 allowance hurdle is Beverly R. Steinman’s First Friday, who battled for the early lead and finished third. Barry Foley gets a return call for trainer Doug Fout.
Ricky Hendriks, currently atop the trainer standings by both wins and earnings, will be aiming for his third straight Saratoga victory when he saddles Eve Ledyard’s Go Get the Basil, who is coming off a fifth-place finish in the Aug. 1 race.
Aboard Go Get the Basil will be Ross Geraghty, who rode both of Hendriks’ winners last week, Surprising Soul in the Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes and Optimus Prime in the New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1).
Virginia Lazenby’s homebred Dancin in the Rain is coming off a front-running victory in a Monmouth Park maiden hurdle on Aug. 9 for trainer Kate Dalton. Returning aboard the Louisiana-bred is Bernie Dalton.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard will send out Mary Ann Houghland’s Last Shani, the last foal of 2011 female jumps champion Sweet Shani. The four-year-old won his maiden victory at Tyron Block House in April and then was fourth in a tough Iroquois Steeplechase allowance hurdle in May. Jack Doyle, currently leading the jockey standings by wins, will ride Last Shani, who was bred by Sheppard in Pennsylvania.
Darren Nagle, the reigning champion jockey, will be aboard Irv Naylor’s Ocean Ready, a maiden winner at Middleburg Spring in April who subsequently finished fifth in the Iroquois allowance hurdle for trainer Cyril Murphy.
Michael Mitchell will be going for his third Saratoga victory this summer after picking up the mount on Sarah Sheila Stables’ Wild Dynaformer, who set the early pace in a Monmouth handicap hurdle on Aug. 9 and finished fourth. The Dynaformer gelding is trained by J. Kent Sweezey.
Here is the field for the $65,000 allowance hurdle. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Ocean Ready. 2013 b. g., More Than Ready—Tjinouska, by Cozzene. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Stratford Place Stud (Ky.) 2018 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $20,000. 2017 NSA record: 2-0-1-0, $$,500. Opened 2018 campaign with maiden hurdle win at Middleburg Spring and then was fifth in Iroquois allowance hurdle. (116)
Go Get the Basil. 2010 ch. g., Andromeda’s Hero—Images in Jade, by Jade Hunter. Owner: Eva Ledyard. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: John T. Esposito and Anthony J. Lo Grippo (N.Y.). 2018 NSA record: 3-1-1-0, $25,100. 2017 record: 2-0-1-0, $5,500. Finished fifth in 2018 Saratoga allowance hurdle. Finished second in 2018 Aiken Spring maiden hurdle and then won at Georgia Steeplechase. (115)
Dark Gemini (Ire). 2013 b. g., Dark Angel—Demini Diamond, by Desert King. Owner: Serendipity Stables. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Mary Coonan (Ire). 2018 NSA record: 2-0-2-0, $18,000. 2017 record: 2-1-1-0, $25,200. Finished second in 2018 Saratoga allowance hurdle with a late run. In first 2018 start, closed willingly on deep course to finish second in $35,000 allowance hurdle at Radnor Hunt Races. Won maiden hurdle victory at 2017 Fair Hill meet. (118)
Last Shani. 2014 b. g., Spring At Last—Sweet Shani (NZ), by Kashani. Owner: Mary Ann Houghland. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Jonathan Sheppard (Pa.) 2018 record: 2-1-0-0, $20,500. Last foal of National Steeplechase Association champion female in 2011. Won at first asking over fences at 2018 Tryon Block House meet and then was fourth in Iroquois allowance hurdle. (115)
Wild Dynaformer. 2012 dj. B. or br. g., Dynaformer—Wild Vision, by Wild Again. Owner: Sarah Sheila Stables. Trainer: J. Kent Sweezey. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Winchell Thoroughbreds (Ky.) 2018 NSA record: 4-0-0-1, $7,000. Was fourth in a 2018 Queen’s Cup ratings handicap before being pulled up in a similar race at the Iroquois Steeplechase. Had a good fourth in quality company in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial, then was third in Monmouth ratings handicap. (111)
Dancin in the Rain. 2014 gr. or ro. g., Get Stormy—Dance by Em, by Tapit. Owner: Virginia Lazenby Racing Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeder: Virginia Lazenby (La.) 2018 record: 4-1-0-0, $21,900. Won 2018 Monmouth Park maiden hurdle on front end in fourth start over fences. Maiden winner in his native Louisiana. (116)
First Friday. 2014 b. g., Artie Schiller—Vente, by Dynaformer. Owner: Beverly R. Steinman. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Barry Foley. Breeder: Beverly R. Steinman (N.Y.) 2018 NSA record: 1-0-0-1, $6,500. 2017 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $14,000. In 2018 jumps debut, finished third to upcoming novice in Saratoga allowance hurdle. Won Shawan Downs’ 2017 maiden hurdle for three-year-olds by 1 3/4 lengths, then finished fifth in Far Hills’ Gladstone Stakes. Unplaced in first two career starts on flat at Laurel Park. (111)