Randleston Farm’s Spy in the Sky, who has notched two big Saratoga Race Course upsets but has not won for more than two years, will drop out of stakes company when he starts in Wednesday’s $65,000 optional allowance claiming hurdle at Saratoga. First post time is 12:25 p.m., and TVG will provide live coverage.
Spy in the Sky will carry a $30,000 claiming tag when trainer Jimmy Day lifts apprentice jockey Gus Dahl into the saddle for the 2 3/8-mile race. In his previous start, Spy in the Sky faded to finish seventh in Saratoga’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on July 31.
Spy in the Sky’s most recent triumph came in the 2012 Smithwick at odds of 25-to-1. The 10-year-old Thunder Gulch gelding also won Saratoga’s 2009 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1).
He will not have an easy task in Wednesday’s contest. Leading trainer Jack Fisher will saddle Sheila J. Williams’ and Andre Brewster’s Virsito, winner of Saratoga’s optional allowance claiming hurdle on July 30. Reigning champion jockey Paddy Young again has the mount.
Virginia-based trainer Richard Valentine will saddle The Elkstone Group’s Bodie Island and Clarke Ohrstrom’s jumps maiden Umbraggio. Bodie Island finished third in the July 30 race, 1 1/2 lengths behind Virsito. Kiaren Norris rides Bodie Island, and Robbie Walsh has the mount on Umbraggio.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard also has a double entry in Bill Pape’s Total Command and Lewis Schaffel’s maiden Sal the Barber. Total Command won his maiden victory over hurdles in 2012 and had only one start last year, when he was pulled up in a Saratoga optional allowance hurdle. Regally bred, Total Command was group stakes-placed at Ascot in 2010.
Leading Australian jockey Steve Pateman takes over the mount on Total Command, and current leading jockey Willie McCarthy will ride Sal the Barber.
Current leading owner Irv Naylor will be represented by You’re the Top and Meganisi. Trained by Cyril Murphy, You’re the Top had two stakes victories in Scandinavia in 2012 but has had only two starts since then. Meganisi, trained by William Dowling, finished seventh in Saratoga’s optional allowance hurdle on July 30. Ross Geraghty rides You’re the Top, and Bernie Dalton will be aboard Meganisi.
The entrants for Wednesday’s $65,000 optional allowance claiming hurdle, in post-position order, are:
Sal the Barber. 2006 dk. b. or br. g., Alphabet Soup—Alya, by Deputy Minister. Owner: Lewis Schaffel. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2014 record: 2-0-0-1, $2,500. Finished third in Parx Racing maiden hurdle on July 1. On flat, won 2011 overnight stakes at Aqueduct for trainer Christophe Clement and finished close second in Mountaineer Park’s Independence Day Stakes last year for trainer Thomas Drury Jr.
Umbraggio. 2008 b. g., Aldebaran—Leoia, by Engrillado. Owner: Clarke Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. 2014 record: 4-0-1-0, $6,550. Finished fourth in a maiden hurdle at Parx Racing on July 1 after second in maiden hurdle at the Radnor Hunt Races on May 17. Had three wins on the flat last year after missing 2012 racing season.
Meganisi (Ire). 2007 b. g., Galileo (Ire)—Clandi di San Jore (Ire), by Lando (Ger). 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2013 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $0. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: William Dowling. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Finished seventh in Saratoga optional allowance hurdle on July 30. In only other U.S. start, finished seventh in Saratoga’s 2013 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1). Veteran British hurdler finished second in John Smiths Handicap at Aintree in April 2013.
Virsito. 2006 b. g., Dynaformer–Turkish Gipsy, by Turkoman. Owner: Sheila J. Williams and Andre Brewster. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Paddy Young. 2014 record: 2-1-0-0, $39,000. 2013 record: No starts. Won Saratoga optional allowance hurdle by a neck on July 30. In first start in 20 months, pulled up in $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) at Nashville on May 10. Won maiden victory at 2012 Iroquois Steeplechase meet and then won a Saratoga Race Course optional allowance that summer.
You’re the Top (Fr). 2004 b. g., Poliglote—Lolly Lodge, by Grand Lodge. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2014 record: No starts. 2013 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. In his only 2013 start, pulled up in Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at Middleburg, Va. Finished a distant sixth in the 2012 Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., his U.S. debut. Won the 2012 Ovrevoll Champion Hurdle in Norway after victory in Sweden two weeks earlier.
Total Command (GB). 2007 b. g., Sadler’s Wells—Wince (GB), by Selkirk. Owner: Bill Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Steve Pateman. 2014 record: No starts. 2013 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. Pulled up in Saratoga optional allowance hurdle a year ago. In his jumps debut, won maiden hurdle at 2012 Virginia Gold Cup. Impeccably bred by Juddmonte Farms, by Northern Dancer’s top son Sadler’s Wells out of 1999 One Thousand Guineas (Eng-Gr. 1) winner Wince, by top sire Selkirk.
Spy in the Sky. (146) 2004 ch. g., Thunder Gulch—Monaassabaat, by Zilzal. Owner: Randleston Farm. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Gus Dahl. 2014 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $0. 2013 NSA record: 7-0-1-0, $25,100. 2012 record: 6-1-1-1, $111,250. 2011 record: 6-0-0-3, $12,000. Faded to seventh in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on July 31. Drought continued when pulled up in Temple Gwathmey on April 19. Also pulled up in the 2013 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). Won 2009 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) at 20-1.
Bodie Island. 2008 dk. b. or br. g., Kafwain—Sweet Carolina, by Deputy Minister. Owner: The Elkstone Group. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Kieran Norris. 2014 record: 3-1-0-2, $20,900. 2013 record: 7-1-0-2, $19,600. Finished third in Saratoga optional allowance hurdle on July 30 after sixth in Valentine Memorial starter stakes on May 24 at Fair Hill, Md. Won Carolina Cup starter handicap and then finished third in similar race at Queen’s Cup. Ended spring season with sixth in Fair Hill Races’ Valentine Memorial starter stakes on May 24.