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.
Rescheduled from last Thursday because of inclement weather conditions, the New York Turf Writers was run in memory of Tom Voss, a leading steeplechase horseman who died in January.
Trained by Richard Valentine and ridden by Robbie Walsh, Demonstrative collected his second win in the New York Turf Writers, after claiming Saratoga’s richest steeplechase race in 2012, and climbed to the top of this year’s earnings table with $112,500.
Owner-trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s entry of Barnstorming, with part-time Camdenite Willie McCarthy up,and 2013 New York Turf Writers winner Italian Wedding, which had Camden’s Bernie Dalton in the irons, finished second and third, respectively. Sent off as the 2.30-to-1 favorite in a field of nine, Demonstrative ran the New York Turf Writers’ 2 3/8 miles in 4:34.78 on firm turf.
As expected, Pleasant Woodman went to the front at the start, and he was followed by the Irv Naylor entry of For Non Stop and Charminster. Walsh placed Demonstrative on the inside, approximately five lengths off the leader.
The first flight maintained their positions until the final run down Saratoga’s backstretch, where Charminster slipped back and For Non Stop began to weaken. Walsh found an opening on the inside and hustled Demonstrative past a tiring Pleasant Woodman as they approached the last fence, which Demonstrative jumped with a narrow lead.
Barnstorming moved into contention at the last, but he and jockey Willie McCarthy were unable to make a late impression on Demonstrative, who demonstrated that he has returned to his top form. He opened the year with a dull sixth in the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois on May 10 and ran a strong race in the A. P. Smithwick only to be beaten on the head bob.
“It was a pretty good trip,” Walsh said. “I was where I wanted to be early, down inside and covered up. Then it got tight down in there, and I was starting to get shuffled back, so I made a move to get a little closer again so I wouldn’t get in trouble.
“Then I got trapped inside again turning for home. Luckily, there was enough of a gap on the inside. I took it and I got to the front a bit sooner than I wanted, but I had no choice because otherwise I wasn’t going to get a run.”
Merriebelle Stable’s Makari, who had beaten Demonstrative a nose in the A. P. Smithwick on July 31, made his bid along the inside into the stretch, but he fell at the last fence and sustained a fatal neck injury.
Valentine collected his second straight Saratoga win and his third of the meet to take second place behind leader Jack Fisher. Last year’s co-champion trainer with Sheppard, Fisher maintained his lead by 2014 victories with 14 to Cyril Murphy’s 11 and eight for Valentine and Todd Wyatt.
Fall season opens in New York: The National Steeplechase Association’s fall championship season kicks off at Belmont Park on Thursday, Sept. 18, with the $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Also on the program will be the $75,000 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes.
Two other Grade 1 races grace the fall season: the $250,000 Grand National at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 18 and the $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup in Camden on Nov. 15. In all, the fall championship season offers more than $2-million in purses for National Steeplechase Association horsemen.
The Lonesome Glory, to be run at 2 1/2 miles, launched the championship surge of Mary Ann Houghland’s Pierrot Lunaire in 2012, and last year’s winner, Magalen O. Bryant’s Gustavian, was in the hunt for last year’s title to the season-ending Colonial Cup.
Bryant’s V.E. Day upsets Travers: It was victory in Saratoga Springs Day on Saturday for prominent steeplechase owner Magalen O. Bryant when her V.E. Day swept to a narrow win in the $1.25-million Travers Stakes at historic Saratoga Race Course.
With many of the year’s top three-year-olds in the Travers field, V.E. Day went off at 19.50-to-1 despite a win over the track in the $100,000 Curlin Stakes on July 25.
Ridden for the first time by Javier Castellano, V.E. Day was well back early and moved into contention at the furlong pole on a wet track rated as good. He made up three lengths to the finish line and arrived there a nose in front of Centennial Farms’ Wicked Strong, the Wood Memorial (Gr. 1) and Jim Dandy (Gr. 2) Stakes winner. Both are trained by Jimmy Jerkens, the son of legendary New York horseman H. Allen Jerkens.
The Travers was V.E. Day’s fourth straight victory. Purchased for $135,000 at the 2013 Ocala Breeders’ Sales Co.’s March sale of selected two-year-olds in training, V.E. Day was expected to shine on the turf.
Bryant is a Virginia owner-breeder who also has been a prominent environmentalist in Loudon and Fauquier counties west of Washington, D.C. Born Nov. 30, 1928, she is the daughter of G. L. Ohrstrom Sr., founder of a New York investment firm that bore his name. Her extensive stable of steeplechase horses is trained by Doug Fout, Richard Valentine, Neil Morris, Jimmy Day, Jonathan Sheppard and Leslie Young, She ended the 2013 racing season in third position on the owners table with six wins from 63 starts and earnings of $279,300. Her acquisition Gustavian won the 2013 Lonesome Glory Handicap at Belmont Park and finished second in the Grand National Far Hills, N.J.