Demonstrative and Divine Fortune, who finished within a length of each other in last year’s concluding Grade 1 race, have been nominated to face off again in the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), the featured race of the rich Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville’s Percy Warner Park on Saturday, May 11.
Offering $400,000 in purses, the gala Iroquois meet also will feature the $75,000 Marcellus Frost Sport of Kings Novice Stakes for steeplechasing’s rising stars, the $50,000 Margaret Currey Henley Sport of Kings Filly and Mare Hurdle Stakes, and the $50,000 Mason Houghland Memorial over timber. First post time for the star-studded program is 1 p.m.
Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative was a close runner-up to 2009 Iroquois winner Pierrot Lunaire in the Eclipse Award balloting, and he earned plenty of votes with his thrilling drive to victory in the $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) in Camden, S.C., last November.
He also won last summer’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) at Saratoga Race Course. Now six, Demonstrative tuned up for the Iroquois with a sharp flat victory at the Queen’s Cup Steeplechase near Charlotte, N.C., on April 27. Richard Valentine trains Demonstrative, who was the 2010 three-year-old champion.
Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune was third in the Eclipse Award balloting last year, and in addition to his strong second-place finish in the Colonial, he finished second in last year’s Calvin Houghland Iroquois and the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., in October. Trained by Racing Hall of Fame horseman Jonathan Sheppard, Divine Fortune prepared for the Calvin Houghland Iroquois’ testing three miles with a victory in the Sandhills Cup allowance hurdle at the Stoneybrook Steeplechase in North Carolina on April 6.
The two horses who finished immediately behind Divine Fortune in the Sandhills Cup also were nominated to the Calvin Houghland Iroquois. Sarah and Ken Ramsey’s Slip Away, the 2010 Eclipse Award winner, finished second, 2 3/4 lengths behind Divine Fortune. Slip Away has plenty of experience over the Percy Warner course, with second-place finishes behind Tax Ruling in the 2010 and 2011 Iroquois. Tom Voss, who trains Slip Away, also nominated Armata Stable’s Cornhusker, who most recently finished sixth in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at the Middleburg Spring Races in Virginia on April 20.
The Temple Gwathmey winner, Decoy Daddy, used a workmanlike third in the Sandhills Cup as a springboard to his 8 1/2-length runaway victory in Virginia. Irv Naylor’s veteran Irish-bred also has experience on Percy Warner’s lush turf. He won the 2011 Marcellus Frost and was sixth in last year’s Calvin Houghland Iroquois.
Naylor, who won back-to-back editions of the Calvin Houghland Iroquois with Tax Ruling, also nominated Lake Placid, Organisateur, and You’re the Top. Lake Placid, the 2011 novice champion, finished a distant seventh in the Gwathmey, and You’re the Top was pulled up in the Gwathmey. Organisateur finished fourth in the Block House optional allowance hurdle in Tryon, N.C., on April 20. Naylor’s four nominees are trained by Brianne Slater, who now ranks second behind Sheppard in the trainer standings.
Also nominated to the Iroquois from the Gwathmey was Hickory Tree Stables’ Gustavian, who finished third. Trained by Leslie Young, Gustavian won last fall’s William Entenmann Memorial Stakes for novices at Belmont Park.
Trainer Jimmy Day nominated two-time Grade 1 winner Spy in the Sky to the Calvin Houghland Iroquois. In his most recent start, Randleston Farm’s Spy in the Sky finished sixth in the Colonial Cup, six lengths behind Demonstrative.
Bruce Miller, who trained Pierrot Lunaire to the 2009 Iroquois victory, nominated Mary Ann Houghland’s Molotof, who will be making his first U.S. start. The French-bred gelding has been competing in England and has performed well at longer distances.
The nominees for the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois, in alphabetical order, are:
Cornhusker (GB). 2007 b. g., Dynaformer–Nebraska Tornado, by Storm Cat. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Tom Voss. 2013 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,500. 2012 record: 6-1-0-2, $28,750. 2011 record: 6-1-1-0, $18,200. Finished sixth in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) in his 2013 debut. Closed out 2012 with a third in Montpelier’s Noel Laing on Nov. 3. Finished sixth in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 27 after amazing recovery from stumble to finish fourth in Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 16. Placed first in Foxfield’s Daniel Van Clief Memorial and then finished third in Radnor Hunt’s National Hunt Cup on May 19.
Decoy Daddy (Ire). 2002 ch. g., Lord of Appeal–Young Bebe, by M. Double M. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Brianne Slater. 2013 record: 2-1-0-1, $32,500. 2012 record: 6-1-1-0, $34,300. 2011 record: 7-3-2-0, $124,100. Drew away to an 8 1/2-length win in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at Middleburg Spring Races on April 20. Chased early speed and finished third in Stoneybrook Steeplechase’s Sandhills Cup open allowance on April 6. Finished fourth in 2012 Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) after a second when bidding for third straight win in Montpelier’s Noel Laing Handicap. Finished fourth in both Grade 1 races at Saratoga Race Course, A. P. Smithwick Memorial Stakes and New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap. Finished sixth in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), his first 2012 start. Won International Fegentri World Cup flat race at International Gold Cup on Oct. 20.
Demonstrative. 2007 b. g., Elusive Quality–Loving Pride, by Quiet American. Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. 2013 record: No starts. 2012 record: 6-3-0-0, $209,000. 2011 record: 8-2-4-2, $96,300. Prepared for Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) start with win in a training flat race at Queen’s Cup in North Carolina on April 27. Made an amazing late charge to win 2012 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) by a length. Drew clear to a one-length victory in the 2012 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) after two-length score in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice. Finished fourth in 2012 Grand National (Gr. 1). Was 2010 three-year-old champion.
Divine Fortune. 2003 ch. g., Royal Anthem–My Tombola, by Northern Fling. Owner: William Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2013 record: 1-1-0-0, $15,000. 2012 record: 7-1-3-0, $113,500. 2011 record: 4-1-1-0, $64,000. Cruised to a convincing victory in the Sandhills Cup in North Carolina on April 6. Took lead at last fence of 2012 Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) and held on well for second, beaten a length. Set pace in Grand National (Gr. 1) and finished good second at Far Hills, N.J. on Oct. 20. Passed tiring horses to finish sixth in the Lonesome Glory Stakes (Gr. 1) on Sept. 27. Fell at last fence of New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) after finishing fifth, beaten 3 1/2 lengths, in A. P. Smithwick (Gr. 1) on Aug. 2. Finished good second in 2012 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1).
Gustavian. 2006 b. g., Giant’s Causeway–Mossflower, by Affirmed. Owner: Hickory Tree Stable. Trainer: Leslie Young. 2013 record: 1-0-0-1, $5,000. 2012 record: 5-1-4-0, $70,500. 2011 record: 5-2-2-0, $33,800. Began 2013 season with third in Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) on April 20. Won Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial as 1.35-1 favorite on Sept. 27. Never finished worse than second in 2012 and was second in Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills, N.J. on Oct. 20. Also finished second in the David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) at Colonial Downs on June 2 after close second in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup on May 19. Finished second in the Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase in North Carolina.
Lake Placid. 2005 b. g., Giant’s Causeway–Saranac Lake, by Smart Strike. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Brianne Slater. 2013 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2012 record: 5-2-0-0, $27,500. 2011 record: 12-6-0-1, $114,750. Tired to finish seventh in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) after setting the early pace on April 20. Scored two victories in 2012 starter allowance races but was unplaced in two Saratoga novice stakes, the Jonathan Kiser and Michael G. Walsh. Secured the 2011 novice championship with a front-running victory in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle a week after winning an optional allowance at International Gold Cup. Claimed twice in 2011.
Molotof (Fr). 2007 gr. g., Smadoun—Memorial, by Homme de Loi. Owner: Mary Ann Houghland. Trainer: Bruce Miller. 2013 NSA record: No starts. Newcomer won 32red Casino Steeplechase Handicap at Warwick in February. Most recently was third in an Ascot steeplechase allowance after setting the early pace.
Organisateur (Ire). 2005 b. g., Highest Honor–Willamina, by Sadler’s Wells. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Brianne Slater. 2013 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,000. 2012 record: No starts. 2011 NSA record: 4-0-1-0, $47,800. Tracked early pace and faded to finish fourth in the Block House optional allowance at Tryon, N.C., on April 20. Missed 2012 season. Second-place finisher in 2011 Grand National (Gr. 1) finished fifth in that year’s Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) Accomplished handicap hurdler in England.
Slip Away. 2003 gr. or ro. g., Slip Away–Aurora Slew, by Slew’s Royalty. Owner: Ken and Sarah Ramsey. Trainer: Tom Voss. 2013 record: 1-0-1-0, $4,500. 2012 record: 2-0-0-0, $1,750. 2011 record: 2-0-1-0, $31,500. Began 2013 season with second to Divine Fortune in the Sandhills Cup on April 6. Eclipse champion and Colonial Cup winner in 2010 recorded a fourth-place finish in the 2012 Noel Laing Handicap at Montpelier and a seventh in Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) after setting pace.
Spy in the Sky. 2004 ch. g., Thunder Gulch—Monaassabaat, by Zilzal. Owner: Randleston Farm. Trainer: Jimmy Day. 2013 record: No starts. 2012 record: 6-1-1-1, $111,250. 2011 record: 6-0-0-3, $12,000. Ended 2012 season with a sixth in the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup. Missed by a nose in Lonesome Glory Stakes (Gr. 1) at Belmont Park on Sept. 27. Upset A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) at 25-1 on Aug. 2 and then was a respectable third in the New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1). Previously has two fourth-place finishes, in the Marcellus Frost (Gr. 2) at Iroquois Steeplechase and David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) at Colonial Downs. Won the 2009 New York Turf Writers.
You’re the Top (Fr). 2004 b. g., Poliglote—Lolly Lodge, by Grand Lodge. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Brianne Slater. 2013 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2012 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $7,500. Pulled up in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) on April 20. Finished a distant sixth in the 2012 Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J., in his U.S. debut. Won the 2012 Ovrevoll Champion Hurdle in Norway.