Wendy Hendriks’ Surprising Soul is a surprise no more after marching to three straight victories, and he will put his spotless 2017 record on the line Wednesday in Saratoga Race Course’s $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes, the jumps kickoff race at America’s premier summer race meet.
Trained by Ricky Hendriks, the owner’s son, Surprising Soul pulled a bit of a surprise on May 13 when he won the $100,000 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices, or horses in their first seasons of racing over fences.
Before that, the Ontario-bred gelding by Perfect Soul had easily won a maiden hurdle at the year’s first race meet, Aiken Spring, and three weeks later won a $35,000 allowance hurdle at the Tryon Block House Races on April 15.
Ross Geraghty, who has ridden Surprising Soul in all six of his career starts over fences, will again be in the saddle.
In the Frost, Surprising Soul capitalized on a subpar performance by Mark W. Buyck Jr.’s Show Court, winner of the Carolina Cup for novices on April 1 and second in the Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase four weeks later.
Irish-bred Show Court showed no ill effects from the Iroquois race and came back to win a Parx flat race for hurdlers at 14-to-1 odds on July 8. Trainer Arch Kingsley Jr. named Michael Mitchell to ride Show Court in the 2 1/16-mile Kiser.
Trainer Richard Valentine will send out Gil Johnston’s Miguel Grau, who was fourth in both the Queen’s Cup and the Frost. Shane Crimin has a return call.
Also coming out of the Frost is James S. Carter’s Macnicholson, who fell. Trained by Jimmy Day, Irish-bred Macnicholson was unplaced behind Show Court in the Parx flat race. Bernie Dalton takes over the riding duties.
Darren Nagle, currently leading the jockey standings with nine wins, has the mount on newcomer New Member, who races in the silks of Aurelia and Perry Bolton’s Armata Stables. Trained by 10-time champion trainer Jack Fisher, the Irish-bred was unplaced in Show Court’s division of the split Parx flat race.
Fisher, a runaway leader in this year’s standings, also will saddle Bruton Street-US’s Moscato, who is riding a two-race win streak: a maiden victory at the Queen’s Cup and an allowance win two weeks later at the Iroquois in Nashville. Sean McDermott will ride.
Completing the field is Robert A. Kinsley’s No Wunder, who won a maiden hurdle at the Fair Hill Races in Maryland on May 27. Jack Doyle will ride for trainer Elizabeth Voss.
Here is the field for the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes by post position. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Miguel Grau. 2010 b. g., City Zip—Zuri Ridge, by Cox’s Ridge. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Shane Crimin. Breeder: Sea Horse Breeders (Ky.) 2017 record: 3-0-0-0, $8,750. 2016 record: 6-1-1-2, $50,850. 2015 record: 6-1-1-1, $34,200. Opened 2017 with seventh in Carolina Cup, then was fourth in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase and Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle, all for novices. Finished second in Belmont’s 2016 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, then was third in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. (120)
No Wunder (GB). 2011 b. g., Rock of Gibraltar (Ire)—Iwunder, by King’s Best. Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Executors of the late J. Ellis (GB). 2017 NSA record: 3-1-0-1, $22,900. 2016 NSA record: No starts. Won his maiden victory at 2017 Fair Hill Races after third at Iroquois. Showed good late kick to finish third in Parx flat race for hurdlers. (116)
New Member (Ire). 2011 b. g., Alhaarth (Ire)—Sincere, by Buhhare. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Golden Garden Stud (Ire). 2017 NSA record: No starts. Newcomer to American racing had allowance and handicap wins in England last year for trainer Tom Lacey. Showed little in Parx flat race for hurdlers on July 8. (130)
Show Court (Ire). 2009 b. g., Vinnie Roe—Sparking Gem, by Revoque. Owner: Mark W. Buyck Jr. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Grange Stud (Ire). 2017 NSA record: 3-1-1-0, $58,500. 2016 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $0. Won 2017 Carolina Cup by seven lengths, then finished second in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Finished distant fifth in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. Showed respectable flat speed to win Parx race for hurdlers at 14-to-1. Won maiden over hurdles in Ireland in late 2015. (127)
Surprising Soul. 2012 b. g., Perfect Soul (Ire)—Elusive Srprise, by Elusive Quality. Owner: Wendy W. Hendriks. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Charles Fipke (Ont.) 2017 record: 3-3-0-0, $96,000. 2016 NSA record: 3-0-2-0, $13,200. Has made a quick move up through the ranks and won Iroquois’ $100,000 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. Won maiden hurdle at 2017 Aiken Spring easily and won allowance hurdle at Tryon Block House. (130)
Moscato (GB). 2011 gr. or ro. g., Hernando (Fr)—Alba Stella, by Nashwan. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Miss K. Rausing (GB). 2017 record: 3-2-1-0, $52,500. 2016 NSA record: No starts. After promising start to U.S. career with close second in 2017 Carolina Cup maiden hurdle, won Queen’s Cup maiden by 7 1/4 lengths and Iroquois allowance hurdle by 6 1/2 lengths. (124)
Macnicholson (Ire). 2009 b. g., Definite Article (GB)—Heroic Performer, by Royal Applause (GB). Owner: James S. Carter. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeder: D. Shine (Ire). 2017 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $0. 2016 NSA record: No starts. Lost riders in his first U.S. starts, 2017 Carolina Cup and Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle, both for novices. Finished third in a steeplechase allowance at Gowran Park in Ireland in January. Looking for first victory since August 2015. (130)