The National Steeplechase Association’s summer racing season kicks off Sunday at Suffolk Downs with two divisions of a $40,000 flat race for hurdlers at 1 1/2 mile on turf. Both divisions contain top contenders pointing toward races at Saratoga Race Course later in July and in August.
They will be the sixth and 10th races at the East Boston track, with approximate post times of 3 p.m. and 4:40 p.m., respectively. The first division will have 11 starters, and the second has a full field of 12.
Flying Elvis Stable’s Diplomat, winner of the 2017 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) at Saratoga, will line up for the start in the first division. Trained by Kate Dalton, the nine-year-old will be ridden by Bernie Dalton. He most recently finished second by a nose in a seven-furlong training flat race at the Fair Hill Races on May 26.
Also in the first division is Mark W. Buyck Jr.’s Show Court, winner of the 2017 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes at Saratoga. Trainer Arch Kingsley Jr. named Jack Doyle to ride Show Court, who finished sixth in the Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1) on March 31.
Trainer Jack Fisher will saddle Woodslane Farm’s Overwhelming and Armata Stables’ New Member in the first division. Sean McDermott will ride Overwhelming, who finished second in the Virginia Gold Cup’s Secretariat Stakes on the flat on May 5 before a sixth-place finish in the Fair Hill Races’ Valentine Memorial ratings handicap three weeks later.
Willie McCarthy rides New Member, who most recently finished sixth in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle on May 12.
In the second division, Fisher will saddle Bruton Street US’s Lord Justice, who won an Iroquois allowance hurdle by seven lengths after a close second in the Block House, also an allowance hurdle, at the Tryon, N.C., meet on April 14. McDermott has the mount.
Fisher also will send out Whitman’s Poetry, who finished second in the Iroquois allowance for owner DASH Stable. McCarthy will ride the seven-year-old Tiznow gelding.
Neil Morris will send out Gillian Johnston’s Mutasaawy, winner of the Valentine Memorial. Michael Mitchell will be in the saddle. Also entered for the second division is Robert Kinsley’s No Wunder, who finished second in the Valentine, beaten a half-length. Doyle rides for trainer Elizabeth Voss.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard entered graded stakes winner Parker’s Project, who will be making his first sanctioned start since a fifth-place finish in the 2016 Colonial Cup. Now owned by the trainer, who also bred him, the 12-year-old veteran will be ridden by Keri Brion.
The entries are here.