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Barnstorming takes Walsh Stakes for Sheppard

Posted: August 16, 2013 2:27 p.m.
Updated: August 19, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Owner-trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s Barnstorming surged to the lead on Saratoga Race Course’s final turn, jumped the final fence with a big lead, and powered home for an easy 6 1/4-length victory in the $75,000 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Thursday, Aug. 15.
Sacred Soul, half of leading owner Irv Naylor’s favored 1.30-1 entry, held second, 4 1/2 lengths clear of Clorevia Farm’s Extraextraordinary, who overtook owner-trainer Kate Dalton’s Cat Feathers for the show spot. Black Quartz, the other half of Naylor’s entry, finished fifth in a field of nine, and Alajmal was sixth in a field of nine.
Ridden by Irish jockey Sean McDermott, Barnstorming went off at 5.90-1 and completed the Walsh’s 2 3/8 miles in 4:38.54 on turf rated as good.
With the Walsh score, Racing Hall of Fame trainer and part-time Camden resident Sheppard swept both of Saratoga’s steeplechase races for novices, or horses in their first seasons of competition over fences. He sent out Bill Pape’s Martini Brother and Barnstorming for a one-two finish in the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 25.
Barnstorming was toward the back of the pack early in the Walsh after Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Private Equity jumped out to an early lead, with 2012 novice champion and 2013 Carolina Cup winner Alajmal applying pressure for the first mile and a half. As Private Equity faded, Alajmal took over the advantage on the run through Saratoga’s clubhouse turn the second time.
After jumping the next-to-last fence, Barnstorming drove effortlessly to a daylight lead and drew away on the final turn. McDermott kept Barnstorming’s mind on business through the early stretch, and the Thunder Gulch gelding cleared the final fence with a six-length lead. McDermott kept Barnstorming in stride to the finish line to wrap up an impressive victory.
In the afternoon’s first race, a $65,000 optional allowance, Riverdee Stable’s Apse wore down The Fields Stable’s Kingdom to win by three-quarters of a length. Trained by Richard Valentine and ridden by Robbie Walsh, Apse went off at 6.30-1 and ran the 2 3/8-mile distance in 4:34.54.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Network News went out to a big early lead under Gus Dahl, and past the finish line the second time he was succeeded by Woodslane Farm’s Sharp Numbers. Approaching the final turn, Kingdom and jockey Paddy Young took over, with Apse in pursuit. Kingdom led over the final fence, but Apse gradually reduced the margin and edged to the front in the final sixteenth.
Forgotten Man was 20 lengths farther back in third in a field of ten. Pape’s Total Command, the 5-2 favorite, lost rider Nagle at the second fence.
Converted to steeplechase racing last fall, Apse won his maiden victory for a $25,000 claiming tag at the Atlanta Steeplechase on April 13 and then finished second in a $30,000 allowance hurdle at the Virginia Gold Cup on May 4.
New York Turf Writers Cup goes on Thursday: The crown jewel of the Saratoga steeplechase season, the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup, will be run on Thursday, Aug. 22 at the Spa.
The chase is the second of four Grade I steeplechase races for open division horse with the $250,000 Grand National in Far Hills, N.J. (Oct. 19) and the $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup in Camden (Nov. 23) remaining on the docket.
A field of 11 jumpers has been nominated into the Saratoga feature including Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative, defending Colonial Cup champion, and Gil Johnston’s Mr. Hot Stuff, winners of the year’s two Grade 1 races to date.
Trained by Richard Valentine, Demonstrative would be defending his 2012 victory in the New York Turf Writers, the richest steeplechase race of the Saratoga Race Course meet. In his only start over fences this year, he won the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) by a neck over archrival Divine Fortune on May 11.
In the care of reigning champion trainer Jack Fisher, Mr. Hot Stuff previously had won the Iroquois Steeplechase’s $75,000 Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes. Mr. Hot Stuff competed on the 2009 Triple Crown trail, finishing third in the Santa Anita Derby (Gr. 1) before a 15th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby (Gr. 1) and an eighth in the Belmont Stakes (Gr. 1).
Fisher also nominated Sheila Williams’ and Andre Brewster’s All Together and Woodslane Farm’s Brave Prospect. All Together, the 2010 novice champion, collected his first victory in two years when he won a $65,000 optional allowance claimer on the Smithwick card. Brave Prospect finished fifth in the Smithwick.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard nominated the Smithwick’s respective second- and third-place finishers, his Italian Wedding and Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune. Italian Wedding ran strongly in his first start in 16 months.
Sheppard also nominated Pape’s Martini Brother, winner of Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 25, and Atlantic Equine’s Hunt Ball, who finished sixth in the Smithwick in his U.S. debut.
Randleston Farm’s Spy in the Sky, the 2009 New York Turf Writers winner, was nominated by trainer Jimmy Day after a fourth-place finish in the Smithwick. The nine-year-old Thunder Gulch gelding won last year’s Smithwick and then finished third in the New York Turf Writers.
Meritage Racing’s Inti, upset winner of Colonial Downs’ David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) on June 8, was nominated by trainer Cyril Murphy. The Uruguay-bred gelding previously had finished sixth to Mr. Hot Stuff in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost.
Leading owner Irv Naylor nominated his Irish-bred Meganisi for a second shot at American competition. In his U.S. debut for new trainer William Dowling, Meganisi finished seventh in the Smithwick.

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