Tuesday, August 26, 2008
FOUT HOPES 1-2 PUNCH CONNECTS AGAIN IN TURF WRITERS CUP
Trainer Doug Fout went 1-2 in the Grade 2 A.P. Smithwick Memorial at Saratoga Race Course on August 7 and will try to duplicate the feat in Thursday’s Grade 1, $150,000-added New York Turf Writers Cup. The only Saratoga jump race run as the feature, the 2 3/8-mile stakes hosts its 67th renewal and attracted a field of nine including Fout’s dynamic duo of High Action and Dark Equation.
Though trained by the same man, the two horses couldn’t be more different.
“Country boy” High Action likes the farm, and ships in from Virginia to race, while “City slicker” Dark Equation likes the racetrack, and spends the summer at Saratoga with Fout’s small string of steeplechase and flat horses at the Oklahoma Annex.
The two horses charged from off the pace to sweep the Smithwick exacta with High Action getting through on the rail to win by a length and a half over the late-arriving Dark Equation.
Owned by Carl Barnes, High Action is unbeaten in two American jump starts.
In England, the 8-year-old won eight races and more than $200,000 on the flat including a fourth behind Yeats in the 2006 Ascot Gold Cup. The Kentucky-bred also won once over jumps in England before joining Fout’s barn late in 2006.
The Virginia-based trainer gave the horse an extended break to recover from an injury, and he returned this spring to win an allowance hurdle at Colonial Downs. The Smithwick came next and the small chestnut rallied stoutly through the stretch to catch pacesetter Salford City at the last fence.
“He’s built like a little pony, but he’s very athletic,” said Fout. “He’s very consistent, economical about the way he does everything. The biggest thing is you’ve got to keep him out of trouble so he can make a run and that’s what happened that day. He’ll come running, but you can’t go wide on the turn and lose ground.”
Paddy Young takes the riding assignment again today at 150 pounds, eight more than the horse carried in the Smithwick.
Owned by Peggy Steinman, Dark Equation was in front of High Action early in the Smithwick, but wound up coming from farther off the pace when he got spun wide. More of a grinder than his stablemate, the 7-year-old owns three lifetime jump wins after scoring twice on the flat while with trainer Christophe Clement. The distance of the New York Turf Writers Cup might help the Pennsylvania-bred, who was rallying late in the 2 1/16-mile Smithwick.
“He was closing, no doubt about that, but I don’t think it’s going to hurt either horse,” said Fout. “It will be all about the trips they get. High Action came off the turn and exploded with his run in the Smithwick. Dark Equation kept coming at him through the stretch, though.”
Regular jockey Matt McCarron rides Dark Equation, who carries second high weight of 152 pounds (two more than his Smithwick impost).
The highweight at 154 pounds is Salford City, who makes his second American start after arriving from Ireland days before the Smithwick.
Owned by Fergus Galvin and Adam Lord, the 7-year-old won twice this year in Ireland. Like High Action, Salford City brings high-level flat experience. In 2004, the son of Desert Sun won a Group III in England and finished fifth in the Group I Epsom Derby. Later sent to America, he won an allowance at Belmont in 2005 and made starts against Shakespeare, English Channel and Artie Schiller while part of Patrick Biancone’s stable.
Salford City returned to Ireland, was sold to Galvin and embarked on a jump-racing career. He¹s trained by Gordon Elliot, but spent the last three weeks with Saratoga trainer Roger Horgan.
Top Irish jockey Paul Carberry returns to ride Salford City.
Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, whose Turf Writers’ record includes
12 victories in the last 29 runnings, shows up this year with three starters. Bill Pape’s coupled entry of 2008 Saratoga winner Look At Him and veteran Free Admission were each assigned 142 pounds including Robbie Walsh and Danielle Hodsdon respectively. Lucy Lindsay’s Luongo, the lightweight at 136 pounds, also starts for Sheppard with jockey Willie Dowling named.
Alnoff Stable’s Be Certain represents the Tom Voss stable and gets in at 139 pounds. The 4-year-old finished third behind The Price Of Love in a restricted stakes here July 31 and should appreciate the added distance in his first start vs. open company. Padge Whelan rides. Virginia shipper Four Schools) tries to duplicate his stakes score at Colonial Downs for owner Jacqueline Ohrstrom and trainer Richard Valentine. Veteran Duke Of Earl completes the field for Ann Stern and trainer Jack Fisher.
HISTORY LESSON: Thirty years ago, Mrs. Ogden Phipps’ Happy Intellectual completed a three-peat in the New York Turf Writers Cup. Trained by Hall of Famer Mikey Smithwick, the son of Wolfram is the only horse to take the race three times winning in 1976, 1977 and 1978.
The field for Thursday’s Grade 1 NY Turf Writers Cup:
PP. HORSE TRAINER JOCKEY WGT.
1. Dark Equation Doug Fout Matt McCarrron 152
2. Duke of Earl (IRE) Jack Fisher Xavier Aizpuru 136
3. Four Schools Richard Valentine Carl Rafter 146
4. Luongo Jonathan Sheppard William Dowling 135
5. High Action Doug Fout Paddy Young 150
6a. Free Admission Jonathan Sheppard Danielle Hodsdon 142
7a. Look at Him Jonathan Sheppard Robert Walsh 142
8. Salford City Gordon Elliott Paul Carberry 154
9. Be Certain Thomas Voss Padge Whelan 139
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