Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard never can be underestimated. At age 77, he is leading the National Steeplechase Association’s trainer rankings going into the final weeks of the spring season, and he has a formidable, five-barreled team for the Iroquois Steeplechase’s $50,000 Margaret Currey Henley for fillies and mares on Saturday.
Topping his team is the trainer’s Pram, front-running winner of the Carolina Cup’s Life’s Illusion Stakes on March 31. Pram, who was bred by Bill Pape and Sheppard, finished a neck ahead of Stalled, also owned by Sheppard and bred by him and longtime owner Pape.
The Sheppard lineup also includes Riverdee Stable’s Wigwam Baby, who was sixth in the Life’s Illusion in Camden, S.C. Sheppard’s homebred Rare Mix graduated from the flat and won her maiden venture over fences at the 2017 Carolina Cup, and KMSN Stable’s Inverness is looking for her maiden score in a tough spot.
Sean McDermott has the mount on Wigwam Baby, while Gerard Galligan continues his partnership with Pram, Ross Geraghty will be aboard Stalled, 2017 champion jockey Darren Nagle will ride Rare Mix, and Michael Mitchell will be aboard Inverness. All five are Pennsylvania-breds.
Also coming out of the Life’s Illusion is last year’s impressive Margaret Currey Henley winner, The Fields Stable’s Sarah Joyce. Third in the Life’s Illusion, Sarah Joyce is trained by Elizabeth Voss and will be ridden by Jack Doyle, currently the sport’s leading jockey.
Owner-trainer F. Hill Parker’s Get Ready Set Goes won the female and novice titles in 2016, but two disappointing starts last year included a sixth in the Henley. Seventh in the Life’s Illusion, she will be ridden by Richard Boucher.
Five-time champion jockey Paddy Young, now an owner, will be represented by For Goodness Sake, who finished fifth in last year’s Henley. Trainer Leslie Young named Willie McCarthy to ride For Goodness Sake. The Irish-bred mare won the Iris Ann Coggins Stakes at the Fair Hill Races last May, a week after Paddy Young was seriously injured in a race accident.
Completing the field is Beverly R. Steinman’s Bullet Star, a maiden winner at the Georgia Steeplechase on April 7. Kieran Norris rides for trainer Doug Fout.
Here are the field for the $50,000 Margaret Currey Henley. Post positions will be drawn on Thursday. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
For Goodness Sake (Ire). 2012 b. m., Yeats (Ire) —Muschana, by Deploy. Owner: Paddy Young. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Aylesfield Farms Stud (Ire). 2017 NSA record: 5-1-1-0, $36,400. 2016 NSA record: No starts. Finished fifth in Saratoga’s 2017 Mrs. Odgen Phipps Stakes, then seventh in Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes and fifth in Montpelier’s Noel Laing Handicap. Won Fair Hill’s 2017 Iris Coggins Memorial with Paddy Young, seriously hurt a week earlier, as trainer. Ran fifth in Margaret Currey Henley at Iroquois Steeplechase, her U.S. debut. Maiden hurdle winner in England was competitive over fences and on flat while trained by Warren Greatrex. (115)
Wigwam Baby. 2011 b. m., Langfuhr—Tepee Tot, by Waquoit. Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeders: Bill Pape and Jonathan Sheppard (Pa.) 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,200. 2017 NSA record: 4-0-1-1, $22,250. 2016 record: 2-1-0-0, $16,500. Finished sixth in Life’s Illusion Stakes at 2018 Carolina Cup. In first start over fences since May 2016, finished second in Saratoga’s 2017 Mrs. Ogden Phipps for fillies and mares, then was third in Far Hills Races’ Peapack Stakes. (110)
Stalled. 2011 dk. b. or br. m., Jump Start—Push My Luck, by Press Card. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeders: Bill Pape and Jonathan Sheppard (Pa.). 2018 record: 1-0-1-0, $7,200. 2017 record: 1-10-0-0, $0. 2016 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $1,600. Finished second in Life’s Illusion Stakes at 2018 Carolina Cup. Made only one start in 2017 and was pulled up in Montpelier allowance hurdle. In only 2016 start over fences, finished fifth in Suffolk Downs ratings handicap. Broke through for an 18 3/4-length victory in a 2015 Carolina Cup maiden hurdle for fillies and mares, then finished third in a Queen’s Cup ratings hurdle. (105)
Bullet Star. 2014 dk. b. or br. f., Bullet Train (GB)—Ptarmigan, by Unbridled Jet. Owner: Beverly R. Steinman. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Magalen O. Bryant (Ky.). 2018 record: 1-1-0-0, $12,000. 2017 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,200. Began 2018 with maiden victory at Georgia Steeplechase. Finished fifth in career debut on flat at 2017 International Gold Cup. Her dam was champion steeplechase female in 2010. (107)
Get Ready Set Goes. 2012 ch. m., Run Away and Hide—Ready to Goes, by Lord Avie. Owner-trainer: F. Hill Parker. Jockey: Richard Boucher. Breeder: Frances Hill Myers (Ohio). Champion, novice and female, 2016. 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2017 record: 2-0-0-0, $4,500. 2016 record: 4-3-1-0, $94,500. Finished seventh in Carolina Cup’s 2018 Life’s Illusion Stakes. Began 2017 with fifth in Carolina Cup, then was sixth in Margaret Currey Henley at Iroquois Steeplechase. Reigned as 2016 female champion after winning Saratoga’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps Stakes and Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes, and also seized novice title by earnings. In first starts over fences, finished second in Atlanta allowance hurdle limited to females and then won High Hope open maiden hurdle. Won on flat in Ohio-bred filly race in 2015. (115)
Rare Mix. 2011 dk. b. or br. m., Partner’s Hero—Gemini’s Gem, by Gemini Dancer. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Jonathan Sheppard (Pa.). 2018 record: No starts. 2017 NSA record: 1-1-0-0, $12,000. In only start over fences, won a 2017 Carolina Cup maiden hurdle for fillies and mares. Half sister to One Giant Step. (107)
Sarah Joyce (Ire). 2012 b. m., The Carbon Unit—The Real Thing, by Traditionally. Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Thistle Bloodstock (Ire). 2018 record: 1-0-0-1, $4,000. 2017 record: 5-2-0-1, $57,250. 2016 NSA record: 3-0-1-0, $6,000. Finished third in Life’s Illusion Stakes at 2018 Carolina Cup. Impressive winner of 2017 Margaret Currey Henley at Iroquois Steeplechase, then fourth as even-money favorite in Fair Hill’s Irish Coggins Memorial. Finished third in Saratoga’s 2017 Mrs. Ogden Phipps and was sixth in Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes. Won 2017 debut in Queen’s Cup ratings handicap. (115)
Pram. 2011 dk. b. or br. m., Stroll—My Papoose, by Northern Baby. Owner: Bill Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeders: Jonathan Sheppard and Bill Pape (Pa.) 2018 record: 1-1-0-0, $24,000. 2017 record: No starts. 2016 NSA record: 1-1-0-0, $12,000. Came back after missing 2017 season to win Life’s Illusion Stakes at 2018 Carolina Cup. In first start over fences, won a 2016 Aiken Fall maiden hurdle by more than 11 lengths. (110)
Inverness. 2014 dk. b. or br. f., Giant’s Causeway—Fareena, by Point Given. Owner: KMSN Stable. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Spirit Lake Enterprises (Pa.). 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,000. In first career start over fences at 2018 Georgia Steeplechase, finished fourth in maiden hurdle for females. Maiden winner on flat at Penn National.