SARATOGA, N.Y.--Long shot Show Court, ridden by Michael Mitchell, held off the favorite, Iranistan, to win the G1 $175,000 A.P. Smithwick by a length at Saratoga on July 30.
But despite the long odds, trainer Arch Kingsley said he never doubted that his horse could win.
"I loved him in this race," said Kingsley. "He and Michael Mitchell have a strong bond. They do well together."
Kingsley said that he had felt that everything leading up to the Smithwick indicated that Show Court, owned by Mark W. Buyck Jr., would do well.
"I felt that the Smithwick was going to be his race," said Kingsley, "He got in light. He's a little bit like Rodney Dangerfield. He never gets any respect. But he showed what kind of a horse he is in the Smithwick."
SHOW COURT has had an up and down racing career,
Imported from Ireland, where he raced 21 times, mainly in handicaps, and won three times while hitting the board another six times, Show Court won his third race in this country, the Carolina Cup Hurdle Stakes in Camden on April 1, 2017, then was second in the Queen's Cup, fifth in the Marcellus Frost at Iroquois and 10th in an allowance at Parx before winning the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes at Saratoga on July 26 and then finishing sixth in the New York Turf Writers, also at Saratoga.
"I had trouble with his feet after the Turf Writers," said Kingsley. "That finished him for the year."
This year, Show Court ran sixth in he Colonial Cup in March and third in an allowance at Suffolk Downs on July 8 before winning the Smithwick.
"I felt there was a fair explanation for him in all the races he didn't win," said Kingsley. "Things just didn't set up his way. But none of that caused me to lose faith in him. Just being around him gives you great confidence. All the planets lined up for him in the Smithwick."
The races at Saratoga set up more like a flat race since the officials decided to remove the last fence to prevent falls right in front of the grandstand.
With the final fence now the last fence on the backside, it's a sprint for home from there.
"I'd like to build a campaign for him to be Horse of the Year," said Kingsley. "But the greater distances don't play to his advantage. The longer Turf Writers would be a harder race for him. Far Hills would be a tough race for a horse like him. Maybe it would be better to go to some of the secondary races like Great Meadow."
"I'll let the horse tell me what to do, whether to go to the Turf Writers or Belmont for the Lonesome Glory," said Kingsley. "We'll just try to patch together a Horse of the Year campaign."
Show Court, who paid $30.20 to win, ran fourth throughout most of the 2 1/16 mile race, moved up impressively on the last turn and held off Hudson River Farms' Iranistan, trained by Jonathan Sheppard and ridden by Darren Nagle, to win by a length with Woodslane Farm's Overwhelming, trained by Jack fisher and ridden by Sean McDermott third, another six lengths back.
A further 12 3/4 lengths back in fourth was Personal Start, followed by All the Way Jose, an Eclipse Award finalist last year, Modem, who had run second in his previous five starts in this country, mostly in G1 races, and Oskar Denarius, who was eased.
"IRANISTAN ran a tremendous race," said Sheppard. "We, his owner and I, were thrilled with him. He's an inexperienced 4-year-old running against veterans, and he wasn't getting much of a break in the weights, as 4-year-olds are supposed to get seven pounds from older horses, but he only got one pound from Show Court."
"We'll run him back in the turf Writers," said Sheppard. "He's a very good stayer, and the longer distances might help him."
"Darren said he might have kicked on a little earlier," said Sheppard. "But Iranistan finished strongly and showed great potential."
"All the Way Jose hasn't run since last March, so he might have needed a race," said Sheppard.
IT WAS KINGSLEY'S week at Saratoga, as he also saddle Carrington Holding's Boss Man, again ridden by Mitchell, to win the $65,000 Allowance on Wednesday, Aug. 1.
Boss Man led most of the way and had no trouble holding off second placed Dark Gemini, owned by Serendipity Stable, trained by Jack Fisher and ridden by William McCarthy, while First Friday, owned by Beverly Steinman, trained by Paul Fout and ridden by Barry Foley, was third.
Fisher saddled the winner of the first steeplechase at Saratoga on July 25, the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes.
Armata Stables' New Member, ridden by McCarthy, went to the lead before the last fence and beat the favorite, Mrs. S.K. Johnston's Mutasaawy, ridden by Mitchell, by 1 1/2 lengths.
Bruton Street-US' Lord Justice, trained by Fisher and ridden by Sean McDermott, was third, another 12 3/4 lengths back.
This was New Member's first win in this country