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.
The New York Turf Writers will be run this year in memory of trainer Tom Voss, who died in January. Carrying on his stable is his daughter, Elizabeth Voss Murray, who collected her first graded stakes victory with Makari in the Smithwick. England-based jockey Jack Doyle again will ride the seven-year-old.
Post time for the 2 3/8-mile New York Turf Writers is 12:25 p.m. with both TVG and HRTV providing live coverage.
Standing in Makari’s way is an accomplished field headed by Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative, who finished a nose behind Makari in the Smithwick on July 31. Robbie Walsh again will ride the 2012 New York Turf Writers winner for trainer Richard Valentine.
Also returning from the $100,000 Smithwick Memorial is Virginia Lazenby’s and Farm d’Allie Racing Stables’ Pleasant Woodman, who set the pace to the final fence and held on for third, 7 1/4 lengths behind the top two. Gerard Galligan gets a return call from trainer Doug Fout.
Jack Fisher, currently the sport’s top trainer by wins and earnings, will saddle the duo of All Together, owned by Sheila J. Williams and Andre Brewster, and Michael Moran’s Staying On. Second in last year’s New York Turf Writers, All Together finished fourth in the Smithwick, and Staying On took fifth money. Sam Jones rides All Together, and Paddy Young takes over the mount on Staying On.
Italian Wedding and Barnstorming, both owned and trained by Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, will seek to better their performances after finishing sixth and ninth, respectively, in the Smithwick. Italian Wedding, winner of last year’s New York Turf Writers, will be ridden by Bernie Dalton, and leading jockey Willie McCarthy will handle Barnstorming.
Leading owner Irv Naylor and principal trainer Cyril Murphy will be represented by For Non Stop, who finished third in the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois at Nashville on May 10, and Charminster, second in a Saratoga optional allowance on July 30. Ross Geraghty rides For Non Stop, and Carol-Ann Sloan will be aboard Charminster.
Campanile was the last horse to achieve the Smithwick-New York Turf Writers double, in 1999. Others to win both races in the same year are Yaw (1991), Warm Spell (1993), and Racing Hall of Fame member Lonesome Glory (1995).
Syros goes flag to wire: Gil Johnston’s Syros took the lead early in Saratoga Race Course’s rescheduled $65,000 allowance hurdle and pulled away in the stretch to a 5 1/4-length victory on Monday.
Dr. David Richardson’s Harrods Creek ran a strong race to finish second, 1 1/2 lengths ahead of Umbraggio in a field of eight.
Harrods Creek is trained in Camden by Arch Kingsley.
Trained by Jack Fisher, Syros went off as the 4.20-to-1 second betting choice behind Andre Brewster’s 1.70-to-1 Selection Sunday, who finished fourth. Syros, third in Saratoga’s allowance hurdle on July 23, ran the 2 3/8 miles in 4:31.79 on firm turf.
Robbie Walsh sent Umbraggio to the front at the start, but Syros cruised up to him entering the backstretch the first time and soon took the lead. Jack Doyle, who regularly rides in England but is spending the summer season at Saratoga, allowed Syros to set a steady pace, with Umbraggio about a half-length behind him.
Harrods Creek, ridden by Australian champion jumps jockey Steve Pateman, moved into contention on the final turn, while Sunday Selection made a brief move. Syros spurted away from his competitors at the head of the stretch and opened five lengths at the final fence.
Harrods Creek, a Saratoga stakes winner on the flat in the 2012 John’s Call Stakes, continued willingly to maintain the place spot.
The allowance hurdle was the second victory of the Saratoga season for Johnston, a Chattanooga resident and a longtime steeplechase owner. It was Fisher’s fourth victory of the current meet and widened his advantage in the year’s National Steeplechase Association trainer standings.
Schoodic regroups to take Walsh Stakes: Overcoming early misadventures, Edith R. Dixon’s Schoodic jumped powerfully over the final fence of Saratoga Race Course’s $75,000 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes, took the lead within a few strides, and drew away impressively to a four-length victory last Thursday.
Trained by Jack Fisher and ridden by Paddy Young, Schoodic fulfilled the promise he had shown in winning last year’s three-year-old championship without a defeat and banished memories of his previous start at Saratoga, where he was pulled up after being jostled in the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes three weeks earlier.
Irv Naylor’s Address Unknown finished second after leading over the last fence, and Bill Pape’s Bluegrass Summer closed ground late to take third money, a neck ahead of Anne Pape’s Fog Island. Gil Johnston’s Awesome Pearl, winner of the Kiser at 35-to-1 odds, finished fifth.
Schoodic, a four-year-old Tiznow gelding, completed the Michael G. Walsh’s 2 3/8 miles in 4:40.77 on turf rated as good.
His victory was all the more impressive because he gave away several lengths at the start when he turned and tried to rear following a false start. Young quickly settled him and gradually regained contact with the field, led initially by Sheila J. Williams’ Easy Reach, also trained by Fisher.
On the final turn, Ross Geraghty put impressive Monmouth Park winner Address Unknown on the lead, and Schoodic moved into position to challenge. Address Unknown jumped the last fence with a 1 1/2-length lead, but Schoodic quickly erased that advantage and galloped clear under pressure from his jockey.
Schoodic’s victory gave Fisher a little breathing room atop the NSA rankings, moving him two wins ahead of Cyril Murphy, trainer of Address Unknown. Young, who notched his second victory for Fisher at the current Saratoga stand, has nine wins, four behind Willie McCarthy and two behind Geraghty.