By Tod Marks
McTigue, a four-year-old Irish-bred newcomer to both the National Steeplechase Association and the Irv Naylor stable, made it two wins in two starts following a convincing 3 ¾ length victory in Wednesday’s $75,000 Jonathan Kiser novice stakes at Saratoga.
Ridden by Gerard Galligan for trainer Cyril Murphy, McTigue, sent off at $8.50-1, stalked the pace set by Sharon Sheppard and Gill Johnston’s Caramelised and Armata Stable’s Realist before assuming command turning for home the final time.
The race began with Caramelised, ridden by Robbie Dunne, and Realist, with Harry Beswick, asserting themselves and sprinting clear of the six other starters, opening up by as much as around five or so lengths. McTigue, meanwhile, was running easily in third while under wraps, as the rest of the field bunched up close behind.
Heading toward the clubhouse turn the final time, Caramelised opened up daylight on Realist and the rest of the field. Up the backside, Caramelised still had a substantial lead as McTigue inched closed and Riverdee Stable’s Awakened (Tom Garner) made his move. Caramelised began to tire badly heading through the far turn, with McTigue assuming control and pulling clear. Awakened put in a strong bid to be second best, about 11 lengths clear of the show horse, Hurricana Farm’s Merry Maker. Favored Barbados was fourth.
The mount on McTigue was supposed to go to Barry Foley, who was injured in a riding mishap yesterday. On July 19, Murphy, Foley, and Naylor won the $150,000 A.P. Smithwick with Belfast Banter.
McTigue made his first NSA appearance in the $50,000 Speedy Smithwick Memorial stakes at the Virginia Gold Cup Races in May. He was awarded the victory when Michael Smith’s Hoffman, who romped by 20 lengths, missed a beacon and was disqualified. Before that, McTigue enjoyed success in Europe, with eight top-three finishes.
The NSA summer season continues on Friday with three races at Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va.
You can check out all the photos from Wednesday at Saratoga at www.todmarks.photoshelter.com