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Monday, August 21, 2017

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NSA rule banning apprentice riders at Saratoga roils steeplechase world

A pair of controversial rules, both concerning the $75,000 Mrs. Ogden Phipps Filly and Mare Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 3, has created controversy in the steeplechase community.

Keri Brion on Orchestra LeaderKeri Brion winning on Orchestra Leader earlier this yearFirst, the Nation Steeplechase Association ruled that Forest Boyce, a flat jockey who had never ridden in a steeplechase race, could ride in that stakes race at Saratoga.

That ruling alone had trainers, riders and fans scratching their heads and worrying that it would turn out badly.

And it did turn out badly, both for Boyce and, unfortunately, for another female apprentice rider, Keri Brion, whose horse fell at the second fence, apparently through of fault of Brion's, as, although the results of the autopsy are not in yet, most felt the horse died of a heart attack..

Boyce was completely out of control throughout the race and did not finish, thus costing those who had bet on her.

Continuing steeplechase racing at Saratoga has always been a bit questionable, and NSA, with two non-finishers, almost immediately ruled that apprentice riders could not ride at either Saratoga or Belmont, a ruling many felt was a knee-jerk reaction and way too onerous.

As the race progressed, first Bruce Smart Jr.'s Fall Colors, trained by Jimmy Day and ridden by Brion, was neck and neck for the lead when she fell at the second fence.

After watching the rerun and interviewing a good number of people who had watched the race, and some who had even watched the rerun in slow motion, it seemed clear that Fall Colors never even attempted to take off over the fence.

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Swansea Mile wins G1 Smithwick Stakes, Show Court takes the Novice Stakes

Ricky Hendriks saddled Swansea Mile (Ire) to win the G1 $150,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial Stakes over a good field of 10 horses, while the day before Show Court (Ire) won the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 26, Saratoga's first day of jump races.

rickyhendricksandeveledyardRicky Hendricks and Eve LedyardBut it seems a slightly bizarre result, as Swansea Mile hadn't even won a race in the U.S., much less not winning a stakes race prior to the Smithwick, yet he won one of this nation's most prestigious stakes, while it was a horse who has not only won but also placed second in stakes races, Show Court, who won the ungraded Novice Stakes at Saratoga on the previous day.

This slightly odd result was due to the Novice Stakes conditions, which stated it was open to "four year olds and upward which have not won over hurdles prior to March 1, 2016."

Mark W. Buyck, Jr.'s Show Court, trained by Arch Kingsley, won the Carolina Cup Hurdle Stakes in Camden on April 1, 2017 and placed second in the Queen's Cup MPC Chase Hurdle Stakes in Charlotte on April 29, 2017, so his win was after the March 1, 2016 deadline.

Swansea Mile (Ire), owned by George Mahoney's Rosbrian Farm, trained by Ricky Hendriks and ridden by Michael Mitchell, dug in with determination to win the Smithwick over a field that included Portrade, who won Saratoga's other G! stakes, the New York Turf Writers, last year.

"It was very exciting," said Hendriks of the win for the 7-year-old bay gelding that was imported from England last September.

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Imply, trained by Bernie Houghton, won the Northern Fling Stakes to become a multiple stakes winning mare

Unhurried at the start of the mile long stakes race, Imply moved into contention around the far turn while running three wide and took over the lead at the sixteenth pole to win her second stakes and raise her earnings to $285,928.

Imply Photo by Coady PhotographyImply - Photo by Coady PhotographyImply, owned by Barlar, LLC, trained by Bernie Houghton and ridden by Julio Hernandez, won the $119,250 Northern Fling Stakes for Pa-bred fillies and mares 3 years old and up by 1 3/4 lengths in 1:37 04 on July 9 at Presque Isle race track.

Her time was slightly faster than that of Tom's Ready, who won the colt's equivalent of her race, the Leemat Stakes for Pa-bred 3 years old and up, in 1:37 16 at Presque Isle on the same day.

"She becomes a nicer filly the older she gets," said Houghton of the 4-year-old by E Dubai out of Allude, by Orientate.

"She's owned by Larry Karp of Plano, Tex.,"said Houghton. I met him about five years ago. The first horse I trained for him was Bound, and we had some nice wins with her."

"Larry now keeps all his broodmares with us," said Houghton, referring to his family's farm, Sylmar in Christiana, Pa., owned by his parents Ronnie and Betsy Houghton. "We have four of his broodmares now."

"Larry owns E Dubai and also owns a part of Jump Start," said Houghton.

"Imply is a very nice mare," said Houghton, "She won her first start for me (on July 11, 2015), a maiden race at Parx, and then in her next race won a stakes at Presque Isle."

Imply's first stakes win was in the Mrs. Henry D. Paxson Memorial Stakes on Sept. 20, 2015.

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Sheppard's Parx winner has him anticipating Saratoga

Jonathan Sheppard's winner in an allowance flat race for steeplechase horses at Parx gave him reason to look forward to the meet at Saratoga, which begins, for jumpers,  on July 26.

Steeplechasing will be featured at Saratoga on Wednesdays and Thursdays, opening with the Kiser Novice Stakes on July 26 and the first of two G1 stakes, the G1 $150,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial on July 27.

Parx had two days of racing featuring steeplechase horses, and Sheppard's win in a flat race there gave him good reason to be optimistic looking forward to Saratoga.

On Saturday, July 8 at Parx, there were two allowance flat races, both open to horses that had finished first, second or third in a sanctioned hurdle race, and Sheppard saddled Maram LLC's Alcazar de Maram to win one of the $25,000, 1 1/2 mile turf races.

Alcazar de Maram Photo by Barbara Weidl EQUI PHOTOAlcazar de Maram Photo by Barbara Weidl EQUI PHOTOAlcazar de Maram, ridden by Darren Nagle, won by a length over Diplomat, owned by Flying Elvis Stable, trained by Kate Dalton and ridden by Bernie Dalton, but the big reason for the optimism concerning the win is that Alcazar de Maram ran the 1 1/2 mile turf race in 2:34 11, over a two full seconds faster than the winner of the first of the two races, Show Court (Ire), who is a stakes winner over fences.

Mark W. Buyck's Show Court, trained by Arch Kingsley and ridden by Michael Mitchell, won the second $25,000 allowance by just a nose over Robert A. Kingsley's Unsinkable, trained by Elizabeth Voss and ridden by Jack Doyle, in 2:36 41.


ALCAZAR DE MARAM is a 5-year-old by Giant's Causeway out of Maram, by Sahm.

"I picked him up at Gulfstream towards the end of the 2016 meet," said Sheppard.

Alcazar de Maram was being trained by Bill Mott.

"Karen Woods is his owner, and she said that he's a well bred horse but that he's one-paced, and they're not running races long enough for him," said Sheppard. "I was familiar with his dam, who had been trained by Chad Brown.

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Successful June stakes day at Penn National overshadowed by Rojas drug trial

Three Pa-bred stakes races highlighted a day of seven stakes races at Penn National in Grantville, Pa., on June 3, but the success of that day was quickly overshadowed by a sensationalized trial of trainer Murray Rojas for the illegal use of therapeutic drugs on race days that resulted in her conviction on 14 felony counts and in Penn National permanently evicting both Rojas and her husband Eduardo and trainer Stephanie Beattie, who admitted to using illegal drugs.

During the trial, Beattie, who decided to cooperate with the FBI, which was running the investigation, in hopes of reducing her punishment, asserted that virtually all the trainers at Penn National used illegal medications, a fact denied by many.

In fact, the consensus is that most of the trainers at Penn National are good and law-abiding conditioners who have the best interests of the horses in mind.

In the first of the three Pa-bred stakes, Grand Prix, owned by HnRNothhaft Horse Racing LLC, trained by Gary Mandella and ridden by Javiar Castellano, won  the $101,000 New Start Stakes for 3-year-old Pa-bred fillies by a length over Buttonwood Farm's Rose Tree, trained by Jonathan Sheppard and ridden by Andrew Wolfsont.

The card of seven stakes drew a large, enthusiastic crowd that made Firsthand Report the favorite in the $103,000 Lyphard Stakes for Pa-bred fillies and mares 3 and up, and the Todd Pletcher 4-year-old by Blame didn't disappoint.

Owned by StarLadies Racing, and bred by Lindsay C.F. Scott and Jane MacElree, Firsthand Report, ridden by Castellano, beat  Baxter LLC's Impy, trained by T. Houghton, by a neck.

Ruis Racing LLC's The Critical Way, trained by Mick Ruis and again ridden by Castellano, won by a neck over Uptowncharlybrown, trained by Edward Coletti, in the $100,000 Danzig Stakes for Pa-bred 3 year olds.

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More Articles ...

  1. Miss Inclusive and Eighth Wonder named co-winners of 2016 Parx Oaks
  2. N.J-bred Irish War Cry second in the Belmont, Mor Spirit wins $1.2 million Metropolitan
  3. Amy Rowe’s For Goodness Sake and Buttonwood Farm’s All The Way Jose won featured races at Fair Hill Spring meet
  4. 2 Pa-breds win on undercards of Black-Eyed Susan and Preakness
  5. Hendriks-trained Mystic Strike wins Radnor Hunt Cup
  6. Orchestra Leader and Winter House win at High Hope
  7. Fenwick’s Doc Cebu wins Willowdale Steeplechase Stakes
  8. Jack Fisher wins three, including $200,000 Stakes, at Iroquois
  9. Ebanour wins Gold Cup for second consecutive year
  10. Neilson sisters and Cyril Murphy saddle winners at Winterthur
  11. Union Rags' get on Oaks and Derby days
  12. Sheppard wins three of four races at Atlanta, Hendriks wins two more for his Mother, Wendy, Lord Shanakill’s son sets course record
  13. Air Maggy, McLane Hendriks win Va. p-to-p championships
  14. Derwins Prospector wins Maryland Hunt Cup in two-horse duel
  15. Pa-bred winners include Page McKinney, Discreet Senorita and Rose Tree
  16. Photo Gallery from Maryland Hunt Cup, 2017
  17. Hendriks saddled three winners at Aiken, Sheppard had winners at Charleston and Carolina Cup
  18. Lemony Bay wins My Lady’s Manor, giving Jack Fisher two wins for the day.
  19. Fair Hill point-to-Point crowned Joshua G Overall champion in the Delaware Valley Point-to-Point series
  20. Md. Hunt Cup winner Senior Senator wins at Elkridge-Harford In prep for this year’s Hunt Cup
  21. Eventing star wins first time out in timber race at Brandywine Hills
  22. Sheppard, Brion, Neilson and Valentine successful in Maryland and Virginia Point-to-Points
  23. Kathy Neilson to defend her Leading Trainer title at DelVal Point-to-Points
  24. 2 turns may be next for hot Union Rags filly Tequilita
  25. Sheppard still breaking records after 50 years

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