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, 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.
"Karen wants to keep him a stallion, and while he's well mannered, that's a bit of a problem at hunt meets, where we have to be careful with him," said Sheppard.
Alcazar finished second at Charlotte on April 30, 2016 in his first race over fences, and then finished second at Lexington on May 22 and fourth at Great Meadow on Oct. 11.
"Darren had a high opinion of him,but he suggested that we put blinkers on him," said Sheppard.
Alcazar de Maram won his next outing at Camden on Nov. 19 by a whopping 39 3/4 lengths.
"We put him away for the winter, but he didn't do that well over the winter," said Sheppard. "He had a bony lump on his jaw, but Bill Mott's assistant had said not to worry about it."
"But his jaw began to bother him over the winter, and Woods had it surgically removed.
"That's why he missed so much time and started so late this year," said Sheppard. "He's still eligible for non-winners of two. He was impressive at Parx. He broke sharply and rated well, so we're looking forward to Saratoga. And Wigwam Baby (one of Sheppard's own horses) made a nice run through the stretch to finish fifth."
ON JULY 8, there were three steeplechase races over fences at Parx.
Richard Valentine saddled Kinross Farm's Mutin (Fr), ridden by Ross Geraghty, to win the first $25,000 Maiden Hurdle by 2 1/4 lengths over Micheal Baum's Buck Benny, trained by Kate Dalton and ridden by Bernie Dalton, in a time of 3:37 4/5.
Neil Morris trained the next two winners, with the first being PathfinersRacing's Mutasaawy, ridden by Nagle.
Mutasaawy won the second $25,000 Maiden Hurdle by 7 1/4 lengths over Woodslane Farm's Other Cheek, ridden by Sean McDermott, in a time of 3:38 1/5.
Morris then saddled Donna T. Rogers' Dapper Dan, ridden by Nagle, to win the $30,000 Overnight Handicap Hurdle by 2 lengths over Kinsley''s Fantastic Son, trained by Voss and ridden by McDemott, in a time of 3:35 4/5.