A sure sign that fall and cooler weather is around the corner occurred last Friday with the mailing out of invitations to those on the mailing list for the 45th annual Marion duPont Scott International Colonial Cup Steeplechase Races.
Owner-trainer Jonathan Sheppard's Brilliant Match turned back a determined challenge by Cat Feathers to win Saratoga Race Course's $75,000 Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Stakes by 1 3/4 lengths last Thursday afternoon.
Always in contention, Rodman W. Moorhead III's All the Way Jose glided to the lead on the final run down Saratoga Race Course's homestretch, rocketed over the last fence, and drew away powerfully to a 14 1/4-length victory in Wednesday's $65,000 allowance hurdle.
Jacqueline Ohrstrom's Demonstrative, narrowly second in the A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), jumped into the thick of the 2014 championship battle with a highly professional half-length victory in Saratoga Race Course's $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup on Monday.
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.