SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — After sustaining a slight injury in the Grade 1 Carolina Cup at the end of March, the Irish-bred Show Court took his time recovering. According to his trainer, former steeplechase champion jockey Arch Kingsley, Jr., “He lost two months and has only been back in training for a month.”
That training included a flat race limited to steeplechase horses at Suffolk Downs in which the 9-year-old gelding finished third beaten only 4-1/2 lengths.
The combination of Kingsley's ministrations and the flat race got Show Court ready for a start-in the $175,000, Grade 1 A.P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase at Saratoga on July 30. The 2-1/16-mile Smithwick was originally carded for the previous Thursday but was postponed when the steeplechase course was thoroughly soaked by a week of rain.
Racing in the colors of South Carolina attorney Mark Buyck, Jr., Show Court and jockey Michael Mitchell sat in fourth place as Personal Start and Barry Foley and Iranistan and Darren Nagle did all the heavy work up front. Mitchell started to shift gears down the back side the final time over the final two jumps on the 'chase course.
The 14 to 1 long shot, Show Court and his Irish rider, cut the corner and entered the stretch in front and down against the rail. He won the home stretch battle with Ed Swyer and the Hudson River Farm's Iranistan by a length at the finish line. The defeat was the first over jumps for the Jonathan Sheppard trainee, who was even money in the Smithwick, after three wins over the jumps and one on the flat. Woodslane Farm's Overwhelming, an allowance winner at Tryon in April, took third.
Show Court stopped the timer in 3:49.00 to win his fourth race from 11 starts over the jumps. The winner's check for $105,000 boosted Show Court's steeplechase earnings to $229,416. A goodly portion of that sum came when Show Court and Mitchell teamed up to win Saratoga's Jonathan Kiser Memorial for novice horses last year.
After the race, Mitchell took note of the Kiser Memorial win last year and said, “I was pleased with my prospects going into the race. With his speed around the turns and over the jumps, he was full of run the whole way. He has speed. But, it's only a finite type of speed. So, you have to use it wisely.”
Kinsgsley, who was aboard Romantic for the win in the 1998 Smithwick, explained the use of the Suffolk race as part of Show Court's training regimen saying, “I needed something to fast track and get him here today. I was lighting a fire under him.”
'Chasing fans may get a chance to see how bright those flames are burning on Aug. 23 in the $175,000, Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup. According to Kingsley, (the Turf Writers Cup) “would be the next logical move, wouldn't it? We'll see.”
If Show Court shows up for the Turf Writers, Kingsley will be able to note that he is going to the post at odds a lot lower than his 14 to 1 in the Smithwick.
With Saratoga's Jonathan Kiser Memorial Novice Stakes in the books, here are the win place and show standings for the National Steeplechase Association's year-end awards.
Owners by Earnings:
- Irvin S. Naylor, $248,200
- Rosbrian Farm, $246,400
- Hudson River Farms, $157,950
Trainers by Wins:
- Jonathan Sheppard, 11
- Ricky Hendriks, 10
- Jack Fisher, 7
Jockeys by Wins:
- Jack Doyle, 13
- Darren Nagle, 9
- Ross Geraghty, 8
Horses by Earnings:
- Zanjabeel, $160,500
- Balance the Budget, $97,500
- Iranistan, $97,500
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