National Steeplechasing’s hard-luck horse of the year, Wanganui, will seek to find the winner’s circle after three hard-fought second-place finishes when he meets a high-quality field in Saratoga Race Course’s $75,000 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Thursday, Aug. 16.
Also on the Thursday program will be a $65,000 optional allowance hurdle featuring a field of ten entries.
Among Wanganui’s opponents in the Walsh will be History Boy, who edged him by a neck in a Penn National Race Course optional allowance hurdle on June 30, and reigning novice champion Lake Placid. Novices are horses in their first seasons of competition over fences.
Owned by The Fields Stable and trained by Tom Voss, Wanganui will be ridden by Paddy Young, the three-time champion jockey who is coming back from an early-season broken arm. In his most recent start, the National Steeplechase Association’s 2011 three-year-old champion finished second in Saratoga’s $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 26.
Before his narrow loss at Penn National, Wanganui had been second by a head in a Parx Racing optional allowance on June 12. Voss also will saddle Armata Stable’s Cornhusker, who finished third in Radnor Hunt Races’ $50,000 National Hunt Cup in Malvern, Pa., on May 19. Kieren Norris has the mount of British-bred Cornhusker.
Timber Bay Farm’s History Boy went off as the 2.30-1 favorite in the Penn National race and wore down Wanganui through the stretch to secure the narrow victory. Trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, the Grand Slam gelding earlier had finished fourth in the Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase near Charlotte on April 28. Brian Crowley will ride.
Leading owner Irvin S. Naylor will send out the pairing of Lake Placid and Black Quartz, both trained by Joseph W. Delozier III. Both competed in the Jonathan Kiser, with Lake Placid finishing sixth and Black Quartz pulled up. Their jockeys will trade mounts for the Walsh, with Ross Geraghty taking over Lake Placid and Carl Rafter riding Black Quartz.
Also entering the Walsh Novice from the Kiser is Beverly Steinman’s Call You in Ten, who finished fifth. Prospective starters for the Michael G. Walsh Novice, which is named for the late Racing Hall of Fame trainer, are:
Trippo. 2007 ch. g., Trippi–Reely Risky, by Reel On Reel. Owner: Dogwood Stable. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2012 NSA record: 3-1-0-1, $14,000. 2011 NSA record: No starts. Finished ninth in a Saratoga optional allowance on Aug. 2 after third-place finish in Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase on April 28. Two-length winner of his steeplechase debut in $15,000 maiden race at Atlanta Steeplechase on April 14. Had a moderately successful career on the flat, winning two races and earning $76,004.
Primero Peru. 2005 dk. b. or br. h., Weekend Cruise—Eva’s Baby, by Theatre Critic (Ire). Owner-trainer: Rafael Hernandez. Jockey: Mark Watts. 2012 NSA record: 4-0-1-1, $3,750. Finished 8th in Saratoga Open House maiden race on July 15. Finished third in Queen’s Cup maiden hurdle near Charlotte on April 28 after second in a maiden claiming hurdle at Tryon, N.C., a week earlier.
Wanganui. 2008 ch. g., Love of Money–Distant Drumroll, by Eastern Echo. Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Tom Voss. Jockey: Paddy Young. 2012 record: 4-0-3-0, $10,800. 2011 NSA record: 2-2-0-0, $30,000. Champion three-year-old of 2011. Hard-luck year continued with second to Demonstrative in $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice on July 28. Also had close second-place finishes in optional allowances at Penn National Race Course on June 30 and Parx Racing on June 12. Lost his rider in Radnor’s National Hunt Cup on May 19. Won his debut over hurdles, the Gladstone Stakes at Far Hills, by 24 3/4 lengths on Oct. 22 and sealed his championship with a 1 1/4-length win in the Raymond G. Woolfe Memorial at the Colonial Cup on Nov. 19.
Black Quartz (Fr). 2007 b. g., Danehill Dancer—Mirina, by Pursuit of Love. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Joseph Delozier III. Jockey: Carl Rafter. 2012 record: 4-2-0-0, $27,000. Pulled up in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice on July 26. Won Radnor Hunt Cup’s Vita C. Thompson allowance hurdle on May 19 after maiden score at Foxfield Spring in Virginia on April 28.
Call You in Ten. 2006 b. g., Ten Most Wanted–Georgiana Lake, by Regal Classic. Owner: Beverly R. Steinman. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Jeff Murphy. 2012 record: 1-0-0-0, $3,000. 2011 record: 3-0-0-0, $7,000. Finished fifth in Jonathan Kiser Novice on July 26 in only 2012 start. Also fifth in the William Entenmann Novice Stakes at Belmont Park on July 3, 2011. Finished a well-beaten fourth in 2011 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at Middleburg Spring Races.
Lake Placid. 2005 b. g., Giant’s Causeway–Saranac Lake, by Smart Strike. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Joseph Delozier III. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2012 record: 4-2-0-0, $5,250. 2011 record: 12-6-0-1, $114,750. Novice champion of 2011. Finished sixth in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice on July 26 after two wins in starter allowances at Iroquois in Nashville and Virginia Gold Cup. Finished fourth in Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase near Charlotte on April 28. Secured the 2011 novice championship with a front-running 2 1/4-length victory in the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle on Oct. 22. Claimed by current owner for $10,000 at Colonial Downs on Sept. 18.
Cornhusker (GB). 2007 b. g., Dynaformer–Nebraska Tornado, by Storm Cat. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Tom Voss. Jockey: Kieren Norris. 2012 record: 2-1-0-1, $20,000. 2011 record: 6-1-1-0, $18,200. Finished third in National Hunt Cup at Radnor Hunt Races in Malvern, Pa., on May 19. Finished second in Foxfield’s Daniel Van Clief Memorial allowance hurdle but was advanced to the win when first finisher Class Indian was disqualified.
History Boy. 2006 b. g., Grand Slam–Rare Blend, by Bates Motel. Owner: Timber Bay Farm. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Brian Crowley. 2012 record: 1-0-1-0, $24,100. 2011 record: 2-0-1-0, $15,750. Won hard-fought neck victory over Wanganui as 2.30-1 favorite in Penn National optional allowance on June 30. Began 2012 season with second by a half-length in the $20,000 Sandhills Cup optional allowance at the Stoneybrook Steeplechase in Raeford, N.C., on April 7, then was fourth in the $50,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase on April 28. Second in Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 22.
Saint Dynaformer. 2007 b. g., Dynaformer—Saintly Action, by Saint Ballado. Owner: Kinross Corp. Trainer: Neil R. Morris. Jockey: Jacob Roberts. 2012 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,000. 2011 NSA record: 3-1-0-0, $9,000. In only 2012 start, finished fifth in a Colonial Downs allowance hurdle on June 2. Won maiden over fences at Montpelier in Virginia last November after being claimed for $35,000 from breeder Live Oak Plantation.