Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Slip Away, a nine-length winner of the Temple Gwathmey Steeplechase (Gr. 3) this spring, will attempt to carry his speed over the A. P. Smithwick Memorial’s 2 1/16 miles on Thursday, August 5.
The seven-year-old Skip Away gelding will meet a seasoned field with extensive experience on the Saratoga Race Course turf. His main challenge, however, may well come Gregg Ryan’s Dynantonia, who will be making his first career start at Saratoga.
Trained by Tom Voss, Slip Away ran away from his competition in the $50,000 Temple Gwathmey at the Middleburg Spring Races in Virginia on April 17. He returned to the races on May 8 in the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois Steeplechase (Gr. 1) in Nashville, where he set the early pace and continued on well to finish second, 4 3/4 lengths behind Tax Ruling.
Slip Away will be seeking to improve on a fourth-place finish behind eventual champion Mixed Up in last year’s Smithwick Memorial. Paddy Young, last year’s champion jockey and the current leader, has the mount.
Voss also will saddle Fox Ridge Farm’s homebred Planets Aligned, who finished third in the 2009 Smithwick. Xavier Aizpuru will ride.
Carl Rafter, who is challenging Young for the top spot in the jockey standings, will be astride Dynantonia, who won the $50,000 Marcellus Frost Stakes (Gr. 3) on the Iroquois program. Trained in Virginia by Julie Gomena, the eight-year-old Dynaformer gelding finished third to Slip Away in the Gwathmey.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, who opened the Saratoga steeplechase season with a score by Sermon of Love in the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 29, will saddle three starters in the eight-horse Smithwick. Coupled in the wagering will be Bill Pape’s The Price of Love and Divine Fortune, both of whom were bred by the longtime owner and Sheppard.
The Price of Love won last year’s Georgia Cup at the Atlanta Steeplechase and scored in both of Saratoga’s 2008 novice stakes, the Kiser and the Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Willie Dowling will ride the seven-year-old Prenup gelding in his 2010 debut.
Divine Fortune, who will be ridden by Danielle Hodsdon, finished second to Spy in the Sky in the $75,000 Carolina First Carolina Cup (Gr. 2) in Camden, S.C., on March 27 and then won the $25,000 Block House Steeplechase in Tryon, N.C. The Royal Anthem gelding subsequently finished third in the Marcellus Frost.
Sheppard also will saddle Hudson River Farms’ Arcadius, who was a good third in the Iroquois. Last year, the Giant’s Causeway gelding placed in two Saratoga steeplechase stakes races, the Ben Nevis and the Paul R. Fout Handicap. Brian Crowley will ride.
Beverly R. Steinman’s Dark Equation will be attempting to recapture his Saratoga glory after winning the 2008 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Trained by Doug Fout, the nine-year-old Polish Numbers gelding most recently closed ground to finish third in the David L. (Zeke) Ferguson Memorial at Colonial Downs on July 11. Jeff Murphy will ride.
Completing the field is Irvin S. Naylor’s Dr. Bloomer, who finished second in the Ferguson, his first 2010 start. Trainer Desmond Fogarty named Darren Nagle to ride the nine-year-old Fantastic Fellow gelding.