Brion saddles two in first running of G1 Beverly R. Steinman

Freddy Flintshire © Tod Marks

Trainer Keri Brion will saddle two strong contenders in Freddy Flintshire and Jimmy P for Sunday’s inaugural running of the Grade 1, $150,000 Beverly R. Steinman, a 2 3/8-mile handicap for older steeplechasers, at the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga Race Course.

The Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, which spans Thursday through Sunday, is highlighted by the 156th edition of the Grade 1, $2 million Belmont Stakes presented by NYRA Bets on Saturday, June 8. The four-day Festival will include 24 stakes races with purses totaling $10.25 million, the highest purse levels and number of stakes offered since the launch of the multi-day Festival in 2014.

The race is named for Beverly R. “Peggy” Steinman, who has successfully balanced decades of ownership in both the steeplechase and flat racing worlds with stars such as Dark Equation, who captured the 2008 Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup, and Colstar, a multiple graded stakes-winning filly who won more than $1 million on the flat.

“It’s fabulous that NYRA has let us add this race and put it on such a big weekend,” said Brion. “It’s great for jump racing, and hopefully we can put on a good show. It looks to be a good race.”

Leading the pair for Brion is Upland Flats Racing’s Grade 1-placed Freddy Flintshire, who returns from a nearly 11-month respite after a deep-closing third-place effort in the Grade 1 A.P. Smithwick traveling 2 1/16 miles in July at the Spa. The 6-year-old Flintshire bay was 11 lengths behind through the first half-mile and steadily made up ground throughout under Parker Hendriks to land 9 1/2 lengths back of the victorious Belfast Banter.

“He made up a ton of ground, and I think if we could do it over, we would have sat him closer,” said Brion. “He did the most of anybody in the race and the winner got the jump on him. That was a huge effort stepping up into Grade 1 company. I think he fits nicely in here.”

Brion said the extended layoff, as well as a stretch-out back to 2 3/8 miles, is to Freddy Flintshire’s benefit, evidenced by a 14 1/2-length romp at that distance in the Queen’s Cup MPC Chase last April at Charlotte off a seven-month respite.

“He’s doing great and worked this morning at Fair Hill, three quarters in 1:14. Freddy loves Saratoga, and we didn’t run him this spring specifically because this race had been added to the program,” said Brion. “We decided he runs best fresh, and he had a point-to-point run on the flat two weeks ago that he won.”

Freddy Flintshire, who has hit the board in each of his eight efforts over jumps, will carry 146 pounds with Stephen Mulqueen in the irons.

Brion will also saddle Madaket Stables, Molly Willis and Paul Willis’ Grade 1-placed Jimmy P, whose lone start this year was a distant off-the-board finish in the three-mile Grade 1 Iroquois on May 11 at Percy Warner off a seven-month layoff.

“This is his preferred distance, and I would draw a line through his last race,” said Brion. “It was three miles off the layoff and a different kind of course – it was not his cup of tea. But, we know he likes Saratoga.”

Jimmy P posted two strong efforts at longer distances last year when taking a 2 3/4-mile handicap event in May at Percy Warner ahead of a brave runner-up effort at this distance in the Grade 1 Jonathan Sheppard Handicap one length back of Awakened.

“These are the races in Saratoga that we want to be winning, so this is what we’ve been prepping both of these horses for,” said Brion.

Danny Mullins [146 pounds] will ride Jimmy P.

Both of Brion’s runners will carry 12 pounds less than the race’s formidable highweight, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Daigneault Thoroughbreds’ Abaan. A Grade 3-winner on the flat, the son of Will Take Charge seeks his first graded score over the hurdles for trainer Kate Dalton.

The 7-year-old gelding has regained his form since switching to the jumps last spring, winning 4-of-5 starts with a second in his hurdle debut. Abaan, who won the Grade 3 W.L. McKnight in 2022 for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher, enters off three consecutive stakes score, taking the Foxbrook Champion in October at Far Hills, and the Carolina Cup at Camden and Green Pastures at Percy Warner to start his current campaign.

Bernard Dalton [158 pounds] has the call.

Leipers Fork Steeplechasers’ Rampoldi Plan [Jamie Bargary, 148 pounds] looks to double up on Grade 1 conquests after a last-out victory in the 2 1/8-mile Commonwealth Cup on May 4 at Great Meadow. Trained by Leslie Young, the Florida-bred son of Hard Spun has two pairs of wins and runner-up efforts from six American outings, including an 8 1/4-length romp to graduate last May.

Hall of Fame trainer Jack Fisher sends out a trio of runners in Grade 1-winner Awakened [Thomas Garner, 152 pounds], novice stakes-winner Proven Innocent [Graham Watters, 144 pounds] and Grade 2-placed Gordon’s Jet [Evan Dwan, 142 pounds].

Riverdee Stable and Ten Strike Racing’s Awakened returns to the scene of his win in the Grade 1 Jonathan Sheppard in August. The Curlin gelding has since placed in two other graded events and was last seen finishing fourth in the Commonwealth Cup.

Riverdee Stable also campaigns Gordon’s Jet, who seeks a fair chance at proving his talents after losing his rider early in his last two outings. The Jet Away chestnut was a close second in the Grade 2 David Semmes Memorial Handicap going 2 1/8 miles last May at Great Meadow.

Bruton Street-US’s Proven Innocent enters off a 1 1/2-length handicap win traveling 2 1/4 miles on May 11 at Willowdale. The Blame gray’s lone graded outing resulted in a sixth in the Grade 1 Lonesome Glory Handicap in September at Belmont at the Big A, the same course he won the William Entenmann Novice over in 2022.

Completing the competitive field is Upland Flats Racing and John Lewis’ Grade 2-placed West Newton [Harrison Beswick, 146 pounds] for trainer Richard Hendriks.

The Beverly R. Steinman kicks off the lucrative 12-race New York Showcase Card on the final day of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival, which features six New York-bred stakes. First post is 12:50 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga Race Course on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit

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