Colonial and Saratoga previews: Busy week ahead for the jumpers

By Tod Marks

As the summer steeplechase season winds down, four races are on tap this week at Colonial Downs in Virginia and Saratoga in upstate New York. It’s a busier week than usual as a result of the rescheduling of the $75,000 Michael G. Walsh novice stakes at the Spa, which was postponed by heavy overnight rain on Aug. 23 and recarded for Thursday Sept. 1.

First up, however, are a pair of maiden hurdles at 2 ¼ miles at Colonial on Monday. The opener, with a 12:15 p.m. post time, is a $40,000 maiden special weights contest for four-year-olds and up that has drawn a prospective field of nine.

The second race, at 12:50 p.m, is a $30,000 starter race for horses who have been entered for a claiming tag of $25,000 or less, either on the flat or over jumps. The race has drawn 10 entries.

For full entries, click here: You can watch the races via live stream from the National Steeplechase Association home page,

And at Saratoga…

On Wednesday, eight horses are expected to go postward in a $70,000 allowance hurdle at 2 ⅜ miles for non-winners of two, or those who haven’t won a race other than a maiden, claiming, or ratings handicap of 115 or less. Post time for jump races at Saratoga is 1:05 p.m. Click here for the entries:

The final stakes race of the Saratoga season is the Walsh at 2 ⅜ miles on Thursday. Here’s a rundown of the field:

Leading the list of contenders are Irv Naylor’s Scorpion’s Revenge and Holwood Stable’s Decisive Triumph. In his brief, five-race career Scorpion’s Revenge, trained by Cyril Murphy, has three victories. He became a stakes winner in his first try, the Green Pastures novice hurdle at Iroquois in May, his most recent start. In that race, at the slightly shorter distance of 2 ¼ miles, Scorpion’s Revenge ran down Decisive Triumph for a 3 ¼-length victory. 

Unlike lightly raced Scorpion’s Revenge, Decisive Triumph is a hard-knocking seasoned veteran, who has earned more than a quarter-million dollars on the flat and over jumps. While he’s still looking for his first stakes score, the nine-year-old son of Kitten’s Joy, trained by Mark Beecher, has come oh-so-close, with three seconds and a third in novice company. Earlier this month he was second to Howyabud, beaten less than two lengths, in the Jonathan Kiser novice stakes at the Spa. 

Leading NSA trainer Leslie Young saddles Leipers Fork Steeplechasers’ Perfect Tapatino and Fast Vision, and Maranto Manor’s newcomer Lydford. Perfect Tapatino, an eight-time winner of $162,000, was in the hunt for the first mile and a half of the Kiser before tiring. He also hit the board in two allowance races at the Spa last year. British-bred five-year-old Lydford, who made his U.S. debut in the Kiser, wasn’t a factor. Fast Vision is coming off a career-best effort, a 7 ¼-length romp in a handicap for horses rated at 115 or less at Iroquois.

Keri Brion saddles a pair. Atlantic Friends Racing’s Theocrat exits a length-and-a-half victory in a 115 handicap at Colonial Downs on July 18. Upland Flats Racing’s Freddy Flintshire, a four-year-old son of Flintshire, is two for three this year, and turned heads at Saratoga earlier in the meet with a come-from-behind 4 ¾-length tally in a non-winners of two allowance. This is his first stakes try.

Since the Walsh was postponed and redrawn, one additional competitor has been added to the field: South Branch Equine’s Who’s Counting. Trained and ridden by Sean McDermott, the Maryland-bred is a winner on the flat and over jumps in 2022. Following a maiden claiming score at the Middleburg Spring Races, he finished second twice, beaten a length, in both the $50,000 Sport of Kings hurdle stakes for four-year-olds at Great Meadow, and a turf allowance on the flat at Laurel. The gelding continued to show his versatility, winning a starter allowance on the turf and a handicap hurdle, for horses rated at 115 or less, at Colonial Downs this summer.

Here are the complete entries:

NYRA races are broadcast live on Fox2 TV, with replays available on NYRA website, You can also live stream via the NSA website,

The season concludes on Sept. 5 at Colonial Downs.

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