The National Steeplechase Association enters the heart of its summer racing program on Sunday with a $65,000 Saratoga Race Course allowance hurdle that had been postponed because of weather conditions on Wednesday.
The race was added to Sunday’s card and will be the first race with a 12:20 p.m. post time. Most of the Sunday card will be races postponed from Saturday because of excessive heat in the Saratoga Springs, N.Y., area.
With more than $100,000 already in the books at Parx Racing and Monmouth Park in July, the NSA’s summer racing program will total nearly $1.2-million. Ahead on the schedule are nine races at Saratoga and 10 races Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va.
The recently announced fall condition book contains 14 racing dates totaling $2,630,000. Highlighting the fall lineup is the $450,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) on a Far Hills program offering $850,000 in purses on Oct. 19.
Taken together, the NSA’s summer-fall program totals a record $3,815,000.
“The National Steeplechase Association’s Board of Directors is committed to providing high-quality racing opportunities for our owners, trainers, and jockeys,” said NSA President Guy J. Torsilieri. “Director of Racing Bill Gallo has worked closely with racetrack officials to develop summer racing opportunities for our horsemen, and the strong summer program reflects his efforts to showcase jump racing at major East Coast tracks.”
Indeed, Sunday’s race is a prime example of how the relationship between the NSA and the New York Racing Association has benefited steeplechase racing. “We are extremely grateful to NYRA for bringing back the allowance hurdle on Sunday,” Gallo said.
“NYRA officials did not have to do that, and they had the additional complication of Saturday’s card being canceled. But they showed their commitment to Saratoga’s steeplechasing program by scheduling our race at the start of a 13-race program on Sunday.”
Gallo also praised the steeplechase horsemen for their understanding when Wednesday’s race was canceled. “The horses were tacked up and in the paddock when the announcement was made to cancel our race because of weather conditions.
“I didn’t hear one word of complaint from our horsemen, and that’s a tribute to their knowledge and experience. A well-maintained turf course is a safe turf course, and they understood that NYRA was acting in everyone’s best interest to cancel the race,” Gallo said.
The NSA also maintains a close working relationship with Dr. Scott E. Palmer, the New York State Gaming Commission’s equine medical director. “The NSA Board of Directors always has made the safety of horses and riders its first priority,” Torsilieri said. “In 2012, the Board formalized our commitment by forming the Safety Committee under Dr. Reynolds Cowles.
“Through the ensuing years, Dr. Cowles and Dr. Palmer have consulted frequently, and Dr. Palmer has made several valuable recommendations to enhance safety. For instance, he recommended the removal of the final fence in the homestretch at NYRA tracks. We are most grateful for his input and his support of the NSA’s safety initiatives,” Torsilieri said.
Sunday’s race was redrawn with the same lineup as Wednesday’s postponed race. The only change is that Ross Geraghty will ride Rosbrian Farm’s Markhan.
Here is the field for the $65,000, 2 1/16-mile allowance hurdle in post-position order. The horses’ NSA ratings at in parentheses at the end of the profiles.
Markhan. 2013 b. g., Birdstone—Royal Flush, by Smart Strike. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeders. Dr. Lawrence Opas, Dr. John Jain, and Dr. Frank Sinatra (Ky.) Repatriated for 2019 Iroquois maiden hurdle and drew clear to a 4 ½-length victory. Had six wins on the flat in Ireland for trainer Gordon Elliott. (116)
Zeppelin Ride. 2014 dk. b. or br. g., Tiznow—Gold Dust, by Forest Wildcat. Owner: Jonathan Sheppard and Vincent Bonnani. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Doug and Felicia Branham (Ky.) 2019 record: 2-0-0-0, $0. 2018 record: 8-1-1-0, $26,570. In first 2019 start, pulled up in Carolina Cup allowance hurdle, then fell at Foxfield Spring. Scored maiden victory at 2018 Montpelier Hunt Races. (113)
Repeat Repeat. 2014 dk. b. or br. g., Arch—Dattt Echo, by Stormy Atlantic. Owner: Bon Nouvel Chasers. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Dattt Farm (Ky.) Won his steeplechase debut by a neck at the 2019 Carolina Cup, and then was third in tough allowance hurdle at Iroquois after setting early pace. Had four consecutive first-place finishes on flat in 2018. (116)
Renown (GB). 2011 ch. g., Champs Elysees (GB)—Fame At Last, by Quest for Fame (GB). Owner: Merribelle Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Juddmonte Farms (GB). 2019 record: 2-0-1-0, $6,300. 2018 NSA record: 2-1-0-1, $27,000. Began 2019 with second in Middleburg Spring allowance hurdle before stumbling and losing jockey at Iroquois. Won maiden hurdle victory at 2019 International Gold Cup. Won Virginia Gold Cup’s 2018 Secretariat Stakes on the flat. (119)
Roller Rolls On. 2015 b. g., Lemon Drop Kid—Classofsixtythree, by Include. Owner: Lee Pokoik. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Lee Pokoik (Ky.) 2018 NSA record: 3-1-1-0, $21,000. Finished third in 2019 Radnor allowance hurdle. In first start over fences, won 2018 Shawan Downs maiden hurdle for three-year-olds. Finished second in Far Hills’ 2018 Gladstone Stakes. (110)
Gaye Breeze (Ire). 2013 b. g., Getaway (Ger)—Railway House, by Ashkalani. Owner: Petticoats Loose Farm. Trainer: Meriwether Morris. Jockey: Thomas Garner. Breeder: Ballyreddin Stud (Ire). 2019 record: 4-1-0-1, $21,000. Won Fair Hill maiden hurdle in his third career start, all in 2019. Finished third at Carolina Cup in his debut. (116)
Whitman’s Poetry. 2011 b. g., Tiznow—Tustarta, by Trempolino. Owner: DASH Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Edward A. Cox Jr. (Ky.). 2019 NSA record: 3-0-2-1, $17,900. 2018 NSA record: 3-0-2-0, $17,650. Finished third in 2019 Carolina Cup allowance hurdle before second-place finishes at Queen’s Cup and Iroquois. Second in 2018 Queen’s Cup ratings handicap and Iroquois allowance hurdle before fourth in at Saratoga. Won his maiden hurdle victory at 2017 Far Hills meet. Finished third in 2016 Laurel Turf Cup. (119)
Cite. 2013 b. g., Blame—Cross, by Mighty. Owner: Gillian Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeders: Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider (Ky.) 2019 record: 3-0-0-0, $3,500. 2018 record: 4-1-1-0, $29,400. Began 2019 with two fourth-place finishes at Carolina Cup and Middleburg Spring before fall at Iroquois Steeplechase. Won 2018 Iroquois maiden hurdle after second in his jump-racing debut in a maiden hurdle at the Queen’s Cup. (116)