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Kingsley-trained Show Court takes $75k Jonathan Kiser Stakes

Posted: August 3, 2017 2:08 p.m.
Updated: August 4, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Chris Rahayel/NYRA photo

MICHAEL MITCHELL IS TUCKED behind Swansea Mile en route to victory in the $150,000 A.P. Smithwick Stakes.

Straylight Racing’s Invocation battled to the front in the final strides and finished a neck in front of Zio Elio to win Wednesday’s $65,000 allowance hurdle at Saratoga Race Course.

It was the third jump race of the summer at the Spa. The action started last Wednesday with 2017 Carolina Cup winner Show Court, trained in Camden by Arch Kingsley Jr., winning for the second time over fences on American soil. One day later, Show Court’s rider, Michael Mitchell, rode longshot Swansea Mile to victory in the $150,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial.

Winner of a Radnor Hunt Races ratings handicap on May 20, Invocation had Sean McDermott in the saddle for the first time. While the French-bred had often shown speed in his jump races, McDermott placed him in the second flight of a field heavy with speed.

Maram LLC’s Alcazar de Maram, the race’s 2.35-to-1 second favorite off a runaway maiden hurdle win at the Carolina Cup on April 1 and a Parx flat win on July 8, blazed on the lead through the first seven fences in company with Rather Be Racing’s Kremlin, another front-running maiden winner.

Ridden by Keith Dalton, Kremlin took over the lead before the last of eight fences and held the advantage going into the final turn for the three-furlong run to the finish line. The solid early pace took its toll on a warm, sunny Upstate New York afternoon, and the second flight began to overtake the early leaders on the turn.

Edition Farm’s Zio Elio made the first move and seized lead in the stretch under Bernie Dalton. Invocation was close behind at the furlong pole, and McDermott kept him under strong pressure on the outside for the final 50 yards.

Zio Elio responded gamely to the challenge and led until five strides from the finish. But Invocation had enough left to seize the advantage in the shadow of the wire.

Trained by Leslie Young, Invocation ran the allowance hurdle’s 2 1/16 miles in 3:44.13 on firm turf. Late money piled on Invocation, and he went off as the 2.05-to-1 favorite.

In the winner’s circle, McDermott donned a blue baseball cap with “198” on it, in honor of five-time champion jockey Paddy Young and his 198 career victories in National Steeplechase Association races. The trainer’s husband continues his recovery from a serious head injury sustained at Radnor. Saddling Invocation in the trainer’s stead was owner-assistant Amy Taylor Rowe.

Mitchell stays hot at the Spa: Rosbrian Farm’s Swansea Mile chose the perfect time to figure out American jump racing and collected his first U.S. victory when he pulled away in Saratoga Race Course’s stretch to score a 28.50-1 upset win in last Thursday’s $150,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1).

Robert Kinsley’s Modem, an unknown factor in his first American start, ran big to finish second, two lengths behind the winner. Flying Elvis Stable’s Diplomat, who took the lead after the last of eight fences, finished third, 14 3/4 lengths farther back. Camden jockey Bernie Dalton was in the irons for his wife and trainer Kate Dalton.

Portrade, the 2016 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) winner, finished fourth in a field of 10 after setting the early fractions.

Swansea Mile, who was deservedly the longest price on the board based on his past performances, ran the Smithwick Memorial’s 2 1/16 miles in 3:48.37 on turf rated as good under rainy skies and paid $59 to win.

The Smithwick provided a Saratoga double for Mitchell.

Despite his odds, Swansea Mile filled the eye as he warmed up for the Smithwick. Trainer Ricky Hendriks, endowed with his strongest team in many years, has made the most of his opportunities and now is in second place by trainer purse winnings behind Jack Fisher.

Acquired by George Mahoney Jr.’s Rosbrian Farm last year, Irish-bred Swansea Mile showed promise in his first U.S. start, Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1), but regressed when seventh against novices in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and was pulled up in Montpelier’s Noel Laing Handicap.

He showed some improvement in his first 2017 start, a good second in the Steeplechase of Charleston’s featured optional allowance hurdle on April 8, but took another step back when a well-beaten fourth in the Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) behind division leader Scorpiancer.

Against horses he should have dominated, he weakened in the stretch to finish third in High Hope’s featured optional allowance hurdle in May. He did nothing to bolster confidence when seventh in his tightener, a Parx Racing flat race for hurdlers, on July 8.

But looks can tell the tale, and Swansea Mile had the look of a winner when he went to the starter for the Smithwick. Mitchell broke him sharply and took up a position at the back of the stalking cadre through the first 1 1/2 miles.

The Fields Stable’s Portrade was in his accustomed spot on the lead early with jockey Gus Dahl, while Stonelea Stables’ Balance the Budget and Camden jockey Mark Watts kept them company. Portrade backed off slightly and ceded the lead to Balance the Budget after the sixth fence in front of the Saratoga clubhouse. At that fence, Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose stumbled over the obstacle and dumped apprentice jockey Keri Brion.

As the field approached the last, Bernie Dalton kicked Flying Elvis Stable’s Diplomat into gear, and they jumped to the lead over that fence. Mitchell applied moderate pressure to Swansea Mile, and they ranged up to seize the lead early in the stretch. Modem and jockey Jack Doyle joined them but were unable to make any progress on the leader.

Mahoney, a member of the National Steeplechase Association’s Board of Directors, led Swansea Mile into a Saratoga winner’s circle well populated with relatives and friends of Hendriks, the well-liked Pennsylvania-based trainer.

“We took a shot and got in with a light weight [140 pounds, at the bottom of the handicap], and he ran a great race,” Hendriks said. “Mikey (Mitchell) gave him a wonderful ride. He’s a great horse and we’re lucky to have him.

“We ran him at Parx just to get a good flat race for him and have Mikey get a feel for him. He’s an excellent rider. He gallops him (Swansea Mile) every day. He knew what he was doing today. He did a great job.

“We’ll have to come back for the Turf Writers (on August 24),” the trainer said. “It’s very hard to win a Grade 1 over jumps; we only have about five or six races. Hopefully we’ll keep him in one piece, and we’ll be back in about a month.”

Kingsley sends out Saratoga’s first jump winner: Show Court won the summer meet’s steeplechase opener, capturing the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice in the first race of Wednesday’s card at Saratoga Race Course.

The Irish-bred 8-year-old stayed off Surprising Soul’s early pacesetting run through the first 1 ¾ miles. Jockey Michael Mitchell lightly coaxed Show Court in the seventh and penultimate jump. With the final three furlongs on flat ground, Mitchell edged him away near the quarter-pole, allowing Show Court to outkick Moscato to win by 1 ¾ lengths.

Show Court completed the 2 1/16-mile course in 3:48.72 for his second straight win and second career stakes win, adding to his victory the Carolina Cup Hurdle on April 1. Mitchell registered first his career stakes win at the Spa.

“He settled nicely and got a bit of cover and his jumping was brilliant,” Mitchell said. There was a little bit of trouble coming around that last corner and we just had to go a bit wide, but it didn’t matter by then. I committed and made my move and he got away nicely.”

Show Court, owned by Florence resident Mark Buyck, Jr., has won three of his last five races for Kingsley, going 3-1-0 in that span.

“He was a little sharper today coming off his last, which was a flat race,” Kingsley said. “We do that with some of these steeplechase horses sometimes to get them more on their toes and to get ready to make a nice finishing kick. It certainly didn’t hurt us any. The horse came over to us in March of 2016 and it took him a little while to get acclimated as you can see from his form but once he really got his American legs, he really hasn’t done anything wrong.”

Off at 6-1, Show Court paid $14.20 on a $2 win wager.

“He has that turn-of-foot where you can switch him off early and save him for that bit of speed at the end, so that helps when you’re going on flat (ground) to the finish line,” Mitchell said. “It’s nice that it was a small field where he’s not being overcrowded and has plenty of room to make adjustments into his fences. He’s progressing well and going up in company, so that’s good.”

Kingsley credited Show Court’s win to his jockey, the Englishman who won the 2015 Grand National Steeplechase.

“Michael Mitchell is very underrated in this country but he’s been a champion in New Zealand and he’s got world class skill,” Kingsley said. “He handled the horse as well as any man alive could have, so I was very happy with his performance today.”

Surprising Soul, Miguel Grau, Macnicholson and No Wunder completed the order of finish. New Member briefly left the course and was disqualified and unplaced.

 

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