A large, accomplished field containing two Grade 1 winners and several other graded victors will line up Thursday for the $150,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), the first top-rated steeplechase race on the Saratoga Race Course calendar. The Smithwick will be Thursday’s first race with a 1 p.m. post time.
The Fields Stable’s Portrade, a front-running winner of last August’s New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1), will attempt to improve upon his third-place finish in last year’s Smithwick Memorial, which will be run at 2 1/16 miles over National Fences.
Trained by Elizabeth Voss, Portrade again will be ridden by Gus Dahl, who partnered with the Irish-bred eight-year-old in all but one of his starts since arriving in the United States in 2015.
So far this year, Portrade has finished second in the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3) and most recently fourth in the National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) at the Radnor Hunt Races in suburban Philadelphia on May 20.
Voss, whose father Tom will be inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame on Aug. 4, also will saddle Robert A. Kinsley’s Modem, who will be making his first U.S. start after racing principally in Ireland. He won a novice steeplechase at Ballinrobe Race Course on May 30 and will be ridden in the Smithwick by Jack Doyle.
Jack Fisher, who is the runaway leader in the year’s trainer standings by wins and purses, will have a potent one-two punch in Gil Johnston’s Mr. Hot Stuff and Edith Dixon’s Schoodic.
Mr. Hot Stuff won the Smithwick in 2013 and is coming back after missing the 2016 season. He finished third in the Temple Gwathmey and then was pulled up in the spring season’s only Grade 1 race, the Calvin Houghland Iroquois. Shane Crimin has the mount.
Schoodic, a seven-year-old homebred by Tiznow, powered to a two-length victory in the David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) at the Virginia Gold Cup on May 6 but was no factor two weeks later in the National Hunt Cup, a race he won the previous year. Sean McDermott will ride.
Also coming out of the Semmes are Irv Naylor’s Charminster and Rosbrian Farm’s Simenon, the respective second- and third-place finishers. Darren Nagle, currently leading the rider standings, will be aboard veteran Grade 2 winner Charminster for trainer Cyril Murphy.
Simenon is trained by Ricky Hendriks, who had a strong spring season and ranks third behind Fisher and Jonathan Sheppard in the standings. Irish-bred Simenon is looking for his first U.S. win and will be ridden by Ross Geraghty. Hendriks also will saddle Rosbrian’s Swansea Mile, fourth in the Temple Gwathmey. Michael Mitchell will ride.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Sheppard will saddle Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose for the Smithwick Memorial. Under assistant trainer and apprentice jockey Keri Brion, All the Way Jose has found new success after two winless seasons. He won the Fair Hill Races’ Valentine Memorial Handicap by 15 lengths on May 27. Brion will be in the saddle.
Also coming out of the Valentine Memorial are Stonelea Stables’ Balance the Budget and Flying Elvis Stable’s Diplomat, who finished second and third, respectively. Mark Watts will ride Grade 3 winner Balance the Budget for trainer Julie Gomena, and Bernie Dalton will be aboard Grade 3 winner Diplomat for his wife, trainer Kate Dalton.
Completing the field is Ballybristol Farm’s Grade 1-placed Andi’amu. Trained by Leslie Young, French-bred Andi’amu finished a distant third in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois on May 13. England-based jumps jockey Tom Garner will ride.
Here is the field for the $150,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial in post-position order. The horses’ handicap weights are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Simenon (Ire). 2007 b. g., Marju (Ire)—Epistoliere, by Alzao. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Max Morris (Ire). 2017 NSA record: 2-0-0-1, $7,500. In first U.S. start, was eased in 2017 Tryon Block House, then was respectable third in David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) at Virginia Gold Cup. Had two wins last summer in England, one on the flat and the other over hurdles. Had world-class speed over a distance and posted a second and two fourth-place finishes in Ascot Gold Cup (Eng-Gr. 1) at 2 1/2 miles. (146)
All the Way Jose. 2010 b. g., Senor Swinger—Maternity Leave, by Northern Baby. Owner: Buttonwood Farm. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Keri Brion. Breeder: Jonathan Sheppard (Pa.) 2017 record: 3-1-1-1, $34,300. 2016 NSA record: 3-0-0-0, $7,500. 2015 record: 3-0-0-0, $3,750. Won Fair Hill’s $40,000 Valentine Memorial ratings handicap by 15 1/4 lengths. Finished third in 2017 Tryon Block House handicap, then was second in Iroquois ratings handicap. Was 2014 novice champion. (131)
Schoodic. 2010 b. g., Tiznow—Aunt Henny, by Hennessy. Owner: Edith R. Dixon. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Edith R. Dixon (Ky.) 2017 record: 3-1-0-0, $47,000. 2016 record: 7-1-2-0, $60,150. 2015 record: 4-0-2-2, $58,000. Won 2017 David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) at Virginia Gold Cup after fall in Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3), then was a dull fifth in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3), a race he won in 2016. Finished sixth in 2016 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and fourth in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). (146)
Andi’amu (Fr). 2010 b. g., Walk In The Park—Sainte Parfaite, by Septieme Ciel. Owner: Ballybristol Farm. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Tom Garner. Breeder: Therese Bouche (Fr). 2017 NSA record: 2-0-0-1, $21,600. 2016 record: 6-1-2-0, $77,300. 2015 NSA record: 4-1-3-0, $56,400. Opened 2017 with fifth in Tryon Block House Handicap, then was distant third in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Finished hard-driving second in 2016 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) and was fourth in Grand National (Gr. 1). (144)
Portrade (Ire). 2009 b. g., Trade Fair (GB)—Portorosa, by Irish River (Fr). Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Gus Dahl. Breeder: Keene Bloodstock (Ire). 2017 record: 2-0-1-0, $11,500. 2016 record: 4-1-0-2, $111,800. 2015 record: 2-0-0-0, $2,500. Opened 2017 with game second in Middleburg Spring’s Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3), then faded to fourth in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3). Wired the 2016 New York Turf Writers (Gr. 1) after finishing third in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). (148)
Diplomat. 2009 b. g., Kitten’s Joy—Waki Affair, by Miswaki. Owner: Flying Elvis Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeders: Ken and Sarah Ramsey (Ky.) 2017 NSA record: 3-0-0-1, $8,750. 2016 record: 2-0-0-0, $3,000. 2015 record: 7-3-0-0, $126,750. Began 2017 with fourth in Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle, then was fifth in Virginia Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) and third in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial ratings handicap. Won 2015 International Gold Cup’s Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3). Bred by champion owners-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey and is a full brother to stakes-placed Kitten Love. (138)
Balance the Budget. 2009 ch. g., Bellamy Road—Every Day Is Good, by El Corredor. Owner: Stonelea Stable. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Jockey: Mark Watts. Breeder: Liberation Farm & Oratis (Ky.). 2017 NSA record: 2-1-1-0, $31,200. 2016 record: 4-1-1-0, $51,600. 2015 record: 7-1-1-0, $37,250. Won 2017 Tryon Block House Handicap after setting most of the pace, then finished second in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial ratings handicap. Kicked off 2016 season with victory in $75,000 Carolina Cup, a novice stakes, then was seventh in Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) and sixth in Saratoga handicap. (142).
Swansea Mile (Ire). 2010 b. g., Dylan Thomas (Ire)—Hurry Up Helen, by In the Wings (GB). Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: W. Kane (Ire). 2017 record: 3-0-1-1, $10,900. 2016 NSA record: 3-0-0-0, $7,500. Opened 2017 with second in Steeplechase of Charleston’s featured optional allowance hurdle and then was fourth in Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3). Finished third in High Hope’s featured optional allowance hurdle. Finished fourth in Belmont Park’s 2016 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) in U.S. debut. (140)
Charminster (Ire). 2006 b. g., Broadway Flyer—Monteleena, by Montelimar. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Raymond Cahalane (Ire). 2017 record: 2-0-1-1, $18,500. 2016 record: 6-1-2-1, $93,000. 2015 record: 5-1-0-1, $63,500. 2014 record: 2-0-1-0, $11,700. Began 2017 with solid second in David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2), a race he won in 2016, and then was third in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3). Faded to fifth in 2016 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1), then was third in 2016 Lonesome Glory (Gr. 1). (146)
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: No starts. Arriving in U.S. after allowance victory in provincial Irish track Ballinrobe. Durable gelding has seven wins in 46 career starts. (154)
Mr. Hot Stuff. 2006 dk. b. or br. g., Tiznow—Sweet Damsel, by Turkoman. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Shane Crimin. Breeder: WinStar Farm (Ky.) 2017 record: 2-0-0-1, $5,000. 2016 record: No starts. Finished third in 2017 Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3) after missing 2016 season, then was pulled up in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). Won 2015 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) and then was second in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) Won the 2013 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) at Saratoga. (156)