Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative, the reigning Eclipse Award winner, will shoot for his third victory in Saratoga Race Course’s $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) against a high-quality field on Thursday.
The 2 3/8-mile New York Turf Writers attracted a capacity field of 10 entrants and will be the first race with a 1 p.m. post time. The race will be televised on TVG.
Demonstrative will carry the 156-pound highweight, conceding from six to 18 pounds to his opponents. Trained by Richard Valentine, the striking eight-year-old Elusive Quality gelding will again be ridden by Robbie Walsh.
Demonstrative will have something to prove in the New York Turf Writers after finishing a lackluster third in Saratoga’s $125,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on Aug. 6.
Earlier in the year, he won the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) in Nashville. Last season’s New York Turf Writers kicked off Demonstrative’s dash to the Eclipse Award. He subsequently won Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) and the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J. He also won the New York Turf Writers in 2012.
Also entered was Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune, the 2013 Eclipse winner who won two Grade 1 races last year, the Iroquois and the $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup (Gr. 1). The 12-year-old laid down the Smithwick pace but tired to finish fifth. Trainer Jonathan Sheppard named Darren Nagle to ride Divine Fortune, who is second in the weights at 150.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Sheppard also will saddle Rod Moorhead’s All the Way Jose, last year’s novice champion who will be ridden by reigning champion jockey and Camden resident Willie McCarthy.
Jack Fisher, who has a substantial lead as he seeks his fourth straight National Steeplechase Association training title, will saddle three contenders for the New York Turf Writers. Gil Johnston, currently jump racing’s leading owner, will be represented by Syros, who won the Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at the Iroquois meet but weakened to finish fourth in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on Aug. 3.
Danny Mullins, a star Irish jockey who spent two weekends in the U.S. in April and had four wins from only seven mounts, will ride Syros.
Fisher also will saddle Sonny Via’s Hinterland, who is making his first U.S. start, and Edith Dixon’s Schoodic, the 2014 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes winner who finished second in his only start this year in the Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase, a novice stakes in Charlotte on April 25. Sean McDermott, who has two Saratoga wins this season, rides Hinterland, and current leading jockey Paddy Young will be aboard Schoodic.
Also entered is the veteran All Together, who was claimed from Fisher’s stable on Aug. 5 by leading New York trainer David Jacobson for his own account. Four years ago, Jacobson claimed Mabou at Saratoga and wheeled him back to win the New York Turf Writers. Ross Geraghty will ride.
Gregory Hawkins’ Alajmal has not raced over fences in 21 months, and he will be returning in a tough spot for Racing Hall of Fame trainer Janet Elliot. Camden’s Bernie Dalton, who has two Saratoga wins this meet, will be in the saddle.
Irv Naylor, who is in a tight race with Gil Johnston for the top spot in the owner rankings, will be represented by Charminster, winner of a Ratings Handicap at Iroquois. Carol-Ann Sloan will ride for trainer Cyril Murphy.
Completing the field is The Fields Stable’s Bob Le Beau, winner of the National Hunt Cup (Gr. 3) in Pennsylvania in May before finishing fourth in the Smithwick Memorial. Jack Doyle, currently the top jockey by purse earnings, will ride for trainer Elizabeth Voss.