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Fisher jumpers shine through on a rainy day in Saratoga
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MR. HOT STUFF FLIES the final fence en route to winning last Thursdays $100,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial Chase with Xavier Aizpuru aboard the the ride in a race run at rain-soaked Saratoga. - photo by Photo courtesy of NYRA
Jack Fisher, American steeplechasing’s reigning champion trainer, captured both ends of Saratoga Race Course’s jump doubleheader last Thursday, Aug. 1, taking a $65,000 optional allowance claimer with veteran All Together and then winning the $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) with Gil Johnston’s rising star, Mr. Hot Stuff.Always well placed in the 2 1/16-mile Smithwick, Mr. Hot Stuff tracked the pace of Fisher-trained Brave Prospect for the first 1 1/2 miles and spurted to the lead when Woodslane Farm’s pacesetter began to tire at the next-to-last fence on Saratoga’s inner turf course.With three-time champion jockey Paddy Young in the saddle, Mr. Hot Stuff jumped the last fence with a 2 1/2-length lead and easily maintained that margin to the finish, holding off the 4-5 favored entry of trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s Italian Wedding and Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune.Italian Wedding, making his first start in 16 months, finished second under Camden’s Bernie Dalton, while two-time Smithwick winner Divine Fortune and Darren Nagle was a neck farther back in third. Randleston Farm’s Spy in the Sky, last year’s Smithwick winner, finished fourth in a field of seven.Sent to the start at 5-1 odds, Mr. Hot Stuff ran the Smithwick distance in 3:50.92 through a steady rain on a firm turf course.Mr. Hot Stuff, a 7-year-old Tiznow gelding, had a brief but eventful career on the Triple Crown trail in 2009.