Colonial Downs in New Kent, Virginia.
The National Steeplechase Association’s summer flat track schedule kicks off Monday at Colonial Downs, with two $40,000 special weight hurdle races, including one for fillies and mares, in New Kent, Va. about half an hour east of Richmond. .
Here is a link to the night entries: https://nationalsteeplechase.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/07/Colonial-July11-WedEntries.pdf.
The races are the first of 24 summer contests, with prize money totaling $1.3 million, scheduled through September 5, with two additional stakes, the $150,000 Lonesome Glory (Grade 1) and Novice Stakes from $75,000 William Entenmann, on tap for opening day at Belmont Park on September 15.
In another sign that the sport is slowly returning to normality after a difficult two years precipitated by the pandemic, the list of summer horses in training includes 170 riders, maidens, contenders, allowance horses and handicap to novice and open stars. That’s significantly more than the 117 on the roster at the same time in 2021. The numbers are a solid indication that owners and trainers have been able to restock their barns and are ready to race.
Steeplechase races at Colonial Downs will consist of two races every Monday until Labor Day, which will take place at the start of the map. Bets are not available. You can live stream for free through the NSA website, www.nationalsteeplechase.comat 12:15 p.m. and 12:50 p.m.
Steeplechasing will begin at the historic Saratoga Racetrack on July 20, with the $150,000 AP Smithwick (Grade 1), one of seven patented jump races for the Spa. All will run like the first race on Wednesdays, with a start time of 1:05 p.m. NYRA races are shown live on Fox2 TV, with replays available on the NYRA website, https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/replays. You can also stream live through the NSA website.
The biggest names in steeplechasing are all aiming for stakes in Saratoga or Colonial.
2022 head coach Leslie Young has big hitters in Sharon Sheppard’s Redicean, winner of the G2 David Semmes Memorial at Great Meadow in May, and recent European import Pistol Whipped, owned by Anthony and Mark Speelman. Pistol Whipped, a National Hunt Cup winner for legendary trainer Nicky Henderson, shipped to the United States and finished second to Snap Decision in the G1 Iroquois in Nashville in May. Young both prepared the Smithwick. Young has another newcomer, Song For Someone, a very accomplished 7-year-old German, running in the orange and brown silks of Gil Johnston. Song for Someone is likely to take place in Sheppard or Belmont, according to Young.
Keri Brion, who trains last year’s Eclipse Prize winner The Mean Queen, said the mare has recovered from a minor injury that sidelined her this spring, and plans to race in August, either at Sheppard or Colonial (perhaps Randy Rouse’s filly and mare stakes). Brion also has 2022 stake winners in Iranistan from Hudson River Farm, which upset Snap Decision in the G2 Temple Gwathmey, Irv Naylor’s French Light, (Queen’s Cup) and Atlantic Friends Racing’s Historic Heart, (Carolina Cup), which should start in the Smithwick.
Jack Fisher said he was leading stable superstar Bruton Street-US’ Snap Decision, winner of the Iroquois, to the $150,000 Colonial Cup, a 1 ½ mile flat turf race at Colonial on July 25, followed by G1 Jonathan Sheppard in Saratoga, the crown jewel of the competition, on August 17. Fisher’s other juggernaut, Bruton Street, 2020 Eclipse Prize winner Moscato, is now 11 and therefore ineligible to compete in Saratoga under NYRA rules.
Trainer Kate Dalton is eyeing races at both Colonial and Saratoga for Joseph Fowler’s magnificent mare Down Royal, recent winner of the filly and mare of Margaret Currey Henley’s entries at Iroquois. She’ll be nominated at the Smithwick, and “if she’s doing well and happy, she’ll probably try the Rouse (a $100,000 filly and mare on Aug. 22) too.”
Cyril Murphy names chief judge Irv Naylor, a $50,000 Green Pastures Novice Stakes winner at Iroquois, Smithwick, while stablemate Belfast Banter, a $186,000 ranked winner who finished second in his American debut in the Semmes, aims for the Shepherd.
The complete summer schedule can be found on the NSA website: https://nationalsteeplechase.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/06/SummerSchedule-062422.pdf