Always in close contention, The Elkstone Group's Bodie Island took the lead with one circuit of Saratoga Race Course's inner turf course remaining, jumped the last fence with a sizable lead, and held off a late challenge by Virsito to win last Wednesday's $65,000 optional allowance claiming hurdle by a head.
Merriebelle Stable's Makari, who won Saratoga Race Course's $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial in his first U.S. start, has been entered for a shot at winning Thursday's $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup, a back-to-back Saratoga double that has not been achieved in 15 years.
Merribelle Stable's Makari, making his first U.S. start after a successful career in English jump racing, battled through Saratoga Race Course's stretch with Demonstrative and won the head bob to take last Thursday's $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) by a nose.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer and part-time Camden resident Jonathan Sheppard already has extended his streak of winning at least one Saratoga Race Course race every season beginning in 1969, and on Thursday he will seek to maintain his dominance of the historic track's steeplechase races in the $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1).
Gil Johnston's Awesome Pearl, overlooked at 35-to-1 in the betting, surged through Saratoga Race Course's stretch and won a down-to-the-wire battle with Kingdom in last Thursday's $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes.
Top Striker, winner of the $50,000 Carolina Cup steeplechase in Camden last March, is part of an 11-horse field which is expected to meet the starter's flag in Thursday's $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes at the Saratoga Race Course.
Petticoats Loose Farm's Choral Society completed his successful transition to steeplechase racing on Tuesday, July 1, when he made a strong run through Parx Racing's stretch and won a $30,000 allowance hurdle by two lengths over Easy Reach. Ross Geraghty rode Choral Society, who had won his maiden victory over fences at Monmouth Park on June 13.
A large and well-matched field will line up Tuesday for a $30,000 allowance hurdle at Parx Racing in suburban Philadelphia. Also on the program are two divisions of a Sport of Kings maiden hurdle, with $25,000 purses in each heat.
Irv Naylor's Address Unknown marked himself as a leading contender in this year's novice division when he overwhelmed his competitors in a $30,000 optional allowance hurdle at Monmouth Park on Friday, June 13.
Thanks in large part to Commanding Curve's second-place finish in the $2 million Kentucky Derby and his ninth in the $1.5 million Belmont Stakes, Kip Elser's Kirkwood Stables of Camden is enjoying a stellar spring.