NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The 3-mile, $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois turned into a three horse race with a quarter mile to run before Zanjabeel came from fourth place to win the storied Grade 1 race by five lengths with the sun-baked crowd of 25,000 roaring its approval.
The win was the third from six starts in North America since the five-year-old gelding was acquired from the British string of Sir Gordon Richards.
Zanjabeel was sold by his British owners to George Mahoney's Rosbrian Farm at Glyndon, Md. and his partners, Ben and Wendy Griswold of Cockeysville, Md. after he won the Fox Brook at Far Hills in October 2017.
Since then, under the tutelage of trainer Ricky Hendicks of Coatesville, Pa. and with the riding services of Ross Geraghty, who has made his home in Fallston., Md. since arriving from his native Ireland, the bay gelding has taken the trophy in Piedmont's AFLAC Supreme and now the Iroquois, the first Grade 1 for the Griswold interests.
In between, with Hendriks keeping his races well spaced, he shows second place finishes in this year's Grade 1 Colonial Cup and the Grade 3 Temple Gwathmey at Middleburg, Va.
After the trophy presentation, Hendricks, a retired steeplechase rider, said his charge would skip the summer races and await the $150,000, Grade 1 Lonesome Glory at Belmont Park on Sept. 21.
“He will not race in the summer. We'll go to Belmont and Far Hills (Oct. 20) —just keeping it simple.”
Geraghty expressed the same theme when he described his ride in the 77th Iroquois. “I just went out there and sat and waited to see what he wanted to do. He's been quite unlucky twice this season.” When asked about his instructions, the rider said, “There were no instructions, I just rode him with confidence.”
That confidence paid off when Zanjabeel finshed five lengths ahead of Modem from the Maryland stable of trainer Elziabeth Voss. The British-bred gelding's second place in the Iroquois was his sixth straight in the runner-up spot, all in Grade 1 stakes.
Jamarjo, racing in the colors of retired utility executive Irvin S. Naylor Of Reiserstown, Md., was 1-1/4 lengths astern of Modem in the seven horse field.
Mahoney and the Griswold's will receive $120,000 for Zanjabeel's winning effort. When added to the$40,500 he has already won this year, his $160,500 puts him atop the National Steeplechase Association's list of money winning runners.
With Hendricks limiting him to two starts before the numbers are totaled and the trophies awarded, his pinacle position is, at best, tenuous.
Iroquois Steeplechase Undercard
The Iroquois's under card featured six races with a gross value of $300,000. Here is the outcome.
$50,000 Green Pastures Allowance Hurdle, 2-1/4 miles. The Maryland-based partnership of Bruton Street-US lead off the afternoon's parade to the winner's circle when their Lord Justice took the lead down the back side the second time and galloped off to a seven-length win.
Former champion jockey Charlie Fenwick accepted the trophy for Bruton Street-US for the second time. Their Moscato was the 2017 winner.
The Irish-bred Lord Justice was ridden by Sean McDermott for trainer Jack Fisher. The Monkton, Md. trainer also took second money with DASH Stables' Whitman's Poetry who sent most of the pace for the 2-1/4 miles run in 4:20.20.
$35,000 Bright Hour Ratings Handicap, 3 miles. Former National Steeplechase Assn. riding champion Colvin G. (Greg) Ryan sent out the Irish-bred Three Kingdoms to his third start and first win in North America. Kieran Norris, himself a former NSA champion, made his move late in the 3-miler and made the lead as the ten runners approached the far turn the second time.
At the wire, it was Three Kingdoms by a neck over a fast closing Schoodic with Willie McCarthy in the saddle. Orchestra Leader and apprentice Keri Brion, who had the lead through the 13-th of 18 national fences, finished third in the race run in 5:40 and 1/5 on a firm and finely groomed turn course.
$100,000 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for Novice Horses. Iranistan, co-owned by Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard of West Grove, Pa. and Saratoga Springs, N.Y. real estate executive Ed Swyer, set a relaxed pace and then galloped home a 6-length winner scoring for the third time this year. With Darren Nagle, who said he lost 14 pounds to make his 144-pound weight assignment aboard the 4-year-old, was also astride for the bay gelding's wins at Middleburg, Va. and Camden, S.C.
Gilbafaro, a recent winner at Tryon, finished second for the Fisher-McDermott team. Barnacle Bill and Jack Doyle, the winner's of this year's Georgia Cup, were another 1-1/2 lengths astern of Galbafaro.
Iranistan ran the 2-1/4 miles over 14 national fences in 4:15.15. After the race, Sheppard said he might want to save Iranistan for the future. “We just might want to put him away to fall. He's a young horse, but he doesn't owe us anything. He's a promising one,” the veteran concluded.
$50,000 Filly and Mare Stake, Margaret Currey Henley Trophy at 2-1/4 miles. Sara Joyce, racing in the colors of The Fields Stable of Palm Beach (formerly of Bedminster, N.J.), won the Iroquois' filly and mare for the second straight year. With Jack Doyle in the saddle again for trainer Elizabeth Voss, the 6-year-old Irish-bred mare defeated seven rivals in the 2-1/4-mile 'chase defeating KMSN Stables' Inverness by a half length. She was another half astern of the Irish-bred For Goodness Sake in the race run in 4:26.21.
Maryland based trainer Elizabeth Voss lamented the cancellation of the filly and mare stakes that had been on the Saratoga stakes card for several years. “I'll have to look for a race now, she said. When asked about Sara Joyce's future, owner George Merck said she has the makings of a brood mare — But, not yet,” he stressed.
$40,000 Sport of Kings Maiden for the George Slan and John Sloan, Sr. Trophy at 2-1/4 miles. Cite, making only his second start over jumps, graduated from the maiden ranks defeating nine other maidens. Racing in the colors of Mrs. S.K. Johnston, Jr. of Chatanooga, jockey Willie McCarthy had the call from perennial NSA winning trainer Jack Fisher of Monkton, Md. who was recording his second win of the day and his fourth of the Spring season.
Cite stopped the timer in 4:12.60 over the firm course.
$50,000 Timber Stakes, Mason Houghland Memorial at three miles. Plated, racing for Virginia owner Magalen O. Bryant, won his second race in two years when he took the lead two miles out and went on to a 5-1/4 length win. Last year, he was a winner in the Bright Hour at 2-1/4 miles over national brush fences.
With Jack Doyle in the saddle for the first time, the now 9-year-old gelding, who works as a fox hunter in the winter, gained his rider's confidence “when he winged the second to last and kept on gallopin' after that.”
With trainer Jimmy Day opting to stay home, his wife Emily was deputized to handle the training chores — and the post race interview. She reported much of Plated's success comes from “fox hunting all winter.”
The sun-baked Iroquois and the rain-soaked Willowdale races have been run. Here are the win-place-show standings for the equine and human awards the National Steeplechase Assn. will present at the close of the 2018 season in late November.
Owners, Purse Money Won:
- Rosbrian Farm, $224,150
- Irvin S. Naylor, $200,400
- Hudson River Farms, $154,550
Trainers, Races Won:
- Jonathan Sheppard, 11
- Ricky Hendriks, 8
- Richard Valentine, 5
- Jack Fisher, 5
- Joseph Davies, 5
Trainers, Purse Money Won:
- Jonathan Sheppard, $287,450
- Jack Fisher, $285,850
- Ricky Hendriks, $285,700
Riders, Races Won:
- Jack Doyle, 11
- Darren Nagle, 8
- Eric Poretz, 6
- Ross Geraghty, 6
Riders, Purse Money Won:
- Jack Doyle, $348,250
- Ross Geraghty, $266,500
- Daren Nagle, $241,050
Horses, Purse Money Won:
- Zanjabeel, $160,500
- Balance the Budget, $97,500
- Iranistan, $96,000
Timber Horse Owner, Purse Money Won
- Irvin L. Crawford, $90,000
- Sara E. Collette, $88,000
- Irvin S. Naylor, $51,000
Timber Horses, Purse Money Won
- Senior Senator, $90,000
- Zanclus, $88,000
- Andi'amu, $36,000
May 19. 88th annual Radnor Hunt Races, Malvern, Pa. $190,000. $30,000 Radnor Hunt Cup (Timber), $50,000, Grade 3 National Hunt Cup.
May 26. 49th annual Fair Hill Spring Races, Fair Hill, Md. $180,000. $50,000 Iris Coggins Memorial (Fillies and Mares).
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