OCEANPORT, N.J. — Racing over the jumps returned to the Jersey Shore Thursday when Monmouth Park carded three races sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association — two for maidens and one for handicap horses. The husband and wife team of trainer Kate and jockey Bernie Dalton scored a training and riding double with wins in both maiden contests.
The Dalton's scored first when Virginia Lazanby's Dancin in the Rain took the lead after the first of eight National Fences and never looked back in the first $30,000 maiden special weight race run at 2-3/8-th miles on the outer portion of the Monmouth Turf Course.
After a flat racing career at Louisiana Downs, Evangeline Downs and Fair Grounds that resulted in one win from ten starts, the Dalton's took over the the training of the nearly white son of Get Stormy with the aim of making him into a steeplechase horse.
They succeeded on their fourth try.
After three races in which he managed to finish fourth, fifth and sixth against maidens, the Dalton's put Dancin in the Rain on a Monmouth Park-bound van to take on seven rivals with 4-year-olds getting in at 145 pounds and older horses carrying 154.
With Bernie Dalton keeping him to his task, the gelding set all the pace and completed his trip in 4 minutes, 27.66 seconds, to score a 5-3/4-length win over long shot Foxhall Drive and Gerard Galligan. Storm Team and Jack Doyle, the NSA's leading rider, were third as the 19 to 10 favorites.
Dancin in the Rain retruned $18.20 for a $2 win bet. The Dancin in the Rain – Foxhall Drive exacta was worth $183.80 for $2.
Two races later, the Dalton dynamo struck again when Gary Barber, the Brous Stable and Wachtel Stable's Irish-bred Belisarius took the lead over the last fence and galloped home to win the second maiden race over eight rivals.
After a West Coast racing career for trainers Steve Miyadi and Peter Miller at Santa Anita, Del Mar and Gold Gate Fields that saw Belisarius post four wins in 35 tries, the Dalton's started Belisaurius' conversion to a steeplechase horse.
After third place finishes at Camden, S.C. (the Daltons' hometown) and Charlotte, they returned their newly acquired charge to the flat track by entering him in an allowance race at Suffolk Downs in East Boston, Mass. in early July. That race, which Belisarius won by neck, was limited to steeplechase horses and was designed to be a prep for the forthcoming season at Saratoga.
The New York Racing Association does not card races for maiden steeplechasers. The next logical stop for the Kate and Bernie caravan was Monmouth Park.
When the entry box closed at Monmouth, they found Belisarius (who is named for a Byzantine general and military genius) in against eight rivals. Because of their success in the first race, the Jersey Shore race goers made Bernie and Belisarius the 7 to 5 favorites.
Their backers had to wait until late in the race to see Belisarius stumble slightly, recover and then work his way up through the ranks to take the lead down the back stretch the second time. He battled with Riverdee's Motivational and jockey Sean McDermott around the far turn the final time before seizing the lead going into the home stretch (with what would have been the final jump before the wire removed for safety reasons).
At the line, it was Belisarius the winner by two lengths over the Irish-bred Alshibaa and Kieran Norris. Motivational was another neck back in third.
Belisarius' backers collected $4.80 for a $2 win bet. The Belisarius - Alshibaa exacta paid $17.
Bernie Dalton did his best to score a riding triple in the $35,000 Ratings Handicap for horses rated at 115 or lower when took the lead at the drop of the flag with the Sarah Shelia Stable's Wild Dynaformer. Setting all the pace for nearly two miles took its toll on the 6-year-old gelding who eventually gave way to a pair of fast closing chargers, Swellelegent with Mike Mitchell aboard and Cheers to Us ridden by Ross Geraghty.
When those two passed the wire, the 'Photo Finish' sign immediately flashed on the infield tote board. It stayed up for several minutes before the placing judges put up Thomas A. Hullfish's Swellelegent as the winner by 'a nostril' over Rosbrian's Cheers to Us. Wild Dyanformer settled for third.
Swellelegent's trainer Neil Morris was on the same wavelength as Kate Dalton when he used a Suffolk Downs allowance prep as a training tool for his horse. The 6-year-old gelding came from off the pace there to win by a length and half on his way to Monmouth.
After clocking in at 4:31.30 at 2-3/8 miles, Swellelegent now sports a record of two wins from four starts over the jumps. The racing office will prepare a Monmouth Park check for $21,000 for deposit in the Hullfish racing account.
Aug. 22 — Saratoga, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Aug. 23 — Saratoga, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Aug. 29 — Saratoga, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
Sept. 20 — Belmont Park, Elmont, N.Y. $75,000 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Hurdle Stakes; $175,000, Grade 1 Lonesome Glory Stakes.
Sept. 23 — High Hope Steeplechase, Lexington, Ky. $95,000 Total Purses.
Sept. 29 — Races at Shawan Downs, Hunt Valley, Md., $135,000 Total Purses.
Oct. 7 — Foxfield Fall Races, Charlottesville, Va., $65,000 Total Purses.
Oct. 13 — Genesee Valley Hunt Races, Geneseo, N.Y., Total Purses, $45,000.
Oct. 13 — Virginia Fall Races, Middleburg, Va., $140,000. $40,000 National Sporting Library and Museum Cup Timber Stakes.
Oct. 20 — Far Hills Race Meeting, Far Hills, N.J., $850,000 Total Purses. $125,000 Foxbrook Champion Novice Hurdle Stakes, $450,000, Grade 1 Grand National, $75,000 Peapack Filly and Mare Hurdle Stakes, $50,000 New Jersey Hunt Cup Timber Stakes.
Oct. 27 — Aiken Fall Steeplechase, Aiken, S.C., $85,000 Total Purses.
Oct. 27 — International Gold Cup, The Plains, Va., $395,000 Total Purses. $40,000 Steeplethon Timber Stakes, $75,000, Grade 2 David “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial Hurdle Stakes, $75,000 International Gold Cup Timber Stakes.
Nov. 3 — Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, Ga. $170,000 Total Purses. $75,000 AFLAC Supreme Novice Hurdle Stakes.
Nov. 3 — Montpelier Hunt Races, Montpelier Station, Va., $145,000 Total Purses.
Nov. 4 — Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, Unionville, Pa., $75,000 Total Purses. $40,000 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup Timber Stakes.
Nov. 11 — Steeplechase of Charleston at Stono Ferry, Hollywood, S.C. $100,000 Total Purses.
See more Equestrian news at www.TAPintoHorses.net
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