Bruton Street-US’s Snap Decision, fresh off an impressive open stakes win, returns to novice competition Wednesday in the $55,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes as Saratoga Race Course begins its steeplechase racing program.
The 2 1/16-mile Kiser, named for the champion jockey who died in a 2000 non-racing accident, will be the first race on the program with a 12:50 p.m. post time.
Trained by Jack Fisher, Snap Decision is the reigning novice champion after two notable stakes victories to conclude his 2019 season, in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes and Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle.
Formerly trained in New York by Claude R. “Shug” McGaughey, the Hard Spun six-year-old is no stranger to Saratoga. He waltzed away to a commanding 38½-length victory in a Saratoga allowance hurdle last August.
He kicked off his 2020 season with a facile 4½-length score in the Virginia Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial on June 27. He carries a National Steeplechase Association rating of 150, well above his six opponents. Sean McDermott, who rode him in the Semmes, has a return call.
Fisher also will saddle Riverdee Stable’s City Dreamer, who is making his first start of the year. Winner of the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices in May 2019, City Dreamer concluded the season with a second in the Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens’ Aflac Supreme Hurdle in November.
Michael Mitchell, currently atop the jockey standings, has the mount aboard the Irish-bred six-year-old, who is rated at 132.
Belisarius opened his 2020 season with a closing second in Middleburg Spring’s Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3) on June 13. Owned by Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable, and Brous Stable, Belisarius is trained by Kate Dalton and will be ridden by Bernie Dalton.
Entering the Kiser from a Middleburg Spring allowance victory is Hudson River Farms’ Galway Kid, who is trained by Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard. Darren Nagle will ride.
Armata Stables’ Zanzi Win, well beaten by Snap Decision in the Saratoga allowance hurdle last summer, pulled a 13.50-to-1 surprise in winning Far Hills’ Harry Harris Stakes for trainer Ricky Hendriks. He opened the current season with a fourth-place finish in a Virginia Gold Cup ratings handicap. Gerard Galligan will be in the saddle.
Second in that Gold Cup handicap was Silverton Hill’s Bodes Well, who is trained by Leslie Young, currently third in the standings behind Fisher and Sheppard. Irish-bred Bodes Well closed out the 2019 season with a ratings handicap win at the Steeplechase of Charleston. Thomas Garner has the mount.
Sixth in the Virginia Gold Cup handicap was early pacesetter Family Tree, a Galileo five-year-old who won his first two starts over fences last fall for owner Irv Naylor and trainer Neil Morris. Barry Foley will ride the Irish-bred.
Here is the field for the $55,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes in post-position order. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Family Tree (GB). 2015 ch. g., Galileo (Ire)—Sant Elena, by Efsio. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Neil Morris. Jockey: Barry Foley. Breeder: Car Colston Hall Stud (GB). 2020 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2019 NSA record: 2-2-0-0, $36,000. Opened 2020 campaign with sixth in Virginia Gold Cup ratings handicap. Won his first two starts over fences in 2019, a maiden hurdle at Aiken Fall and an allowance hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway. Had two flat wins in Maryland before switch to jump racing. (123)
Snap Decision. 2014 b. g., Hard Spun—Salute, by Unbridled. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Phipps Stable (Ky.) 2020 record: 1-1-0-0, $21,000. 2019 record: 6-4-2-0, $176,400. Novice champion, 2019. Scored facile victory in Virginia Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial. Won Belmont Park’s 2019 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes as odds-on favorite, then won Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle impressively. Drew away impressively to win Saratoga allowance hurdle by 38½ lengths. Secured maiden win at Monmouth Park in July 2019 after second-place finishes at Queen’s Cup and Iroquois. Previously trained by Shug McGaughey and had two wins on the flat. (150)
City Dreamer (Ire). 2014 ch. g., Casamento—Cadesia, by Cadeaux Genereux (GB). Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Redpender Stud (Ire). 2019 record: 5-1-1-0, $86,250. 2018 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $9,250. Finished second in 2019 Aflac Supreme Hurdle at Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens after fifth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Won Iroquois Steeplechase’s 2019 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle after fourth in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase, then was fourth in Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. Finished fifth in 2018 Entenmann, his U.S. debut, then was fourth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division. Won two English juvenile hurdles in September 2017 and had been competitive in modest handicap company. (132)
Galway Kid (Ire). 2015 ch. g., Sholokov (Ire)—She’s My Aunt, by Beneficial (Ire). Owner: Hudson River Farms. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Breeder: Oliver Loughlin (Ire). 2020 record: 1-1-0-0, $15,000. 2019 record: 2-1-0-0, $21,000. Won Middleburg Spring allowance hurdle to start 2020 season. Began sanctioned career with fifth in Far Hills’ 2019 Harry Harris and then won maiden hurdle at Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens. (119)
Zanzi Win (Fr). 2015 b. g., Zanzibari—Go to Win, by Coroner. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: EARL Haras de Grandcamp (Fr). 2020 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,750. 2019 NSA record: 4-1-1-0, $59,950. Finished fourth in 2020 Virginia Gold Cup ratings handicap. Won Far Hills’ 2019 Harry Harris before losing jockey in Callaway allowance hurdle. Distant second in 2019 Saratoga allowance hurdle after fourth in U.S. debut in similar Saratoga race. Won maiden hurdle at Plumpton in April 2019 in his fifth start over fences. Formerly trained by Harry Whittington and departed England with a second in a Plumpton allowance hurdle. (123)
Belisarius (Ire). 2011 b. g., Montjeu—Lasting Chance, by American Chance. Owner: Gary Barber, Brous Stable, and Wachtel Racing Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeders: Lynch Bages Ltd. And Camas Park Stud (Ire). 2020 record: 1-0-1-0, $9,000. 2019 NSA record: 5-0-1-1, $28,500. 2018 NSA record: 6-2-1-2, $106,200. Finished closing second in 2020 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3). Finished third in Saratoga’s 2019 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) after 10th in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), then was seventh in Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). In 2019 debut, finished second in Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2), then was ninth in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices. Won 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle by 6¼ lengths. (129)
Bodes Well (Ire). 2015 b. g., Rock of Gibraltar (Ire)—Gypsie Queen (Ire), by Xaar (GB). Owner: Silverton Hill. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Thomas Garner. Breeder: Delores Jones (Ire). 2019 NSA record: 4-2-0-0, $25,650. Opened 2020 with second in Virginia Gold Cup ratings handicap. Won 2019 Colonial Downs ratings handicap in first U.S. start, then fourth in Far Hills’ Harry Harris and sixth in Callaway allowance before winning Charleston ratings handicap. (118)