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Fisher Runs Pair in Search of Fifth A.P. Smithwick Win

Steeplechase racing at the 2023 Saratoga Race Course meet kicks off July 19 in the $150,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial Stakes (NSA-G1), a 2 1/16-mile test for older horses led by two contenders trained by Hall of Famer Jack Fisher.

Harold A. Via Jr.’s newly-minted graded stakes-winner Welshman , a last-out winner of the David Semmes Memorial Handicap (NSA-G2) May 6 at Great Meadow, is among the pair for Fisher, who seeks his fifth Smithwick triumph.

Welshman was part of a three-way battle for the lead in the David Semmes for the first mile in the 2 1/8-mile test before taking command and never looking back to score by three lengths in a final time of 4:02.60. He was piloted to victory by Graham Watters.

The 5-year-old Flintshire  gelding has won three of his last four outings with an overall record of 15-5-3-1 for total purse earnings of $192,925.

Trainer Keri Brion, who won this event with Baltimore Bucko  in 2021, also sends out two contenders in Freddy Flintshire  and Historic Heart  in hopes of starting off the summer meet on a high note. Her Smithwick win in 2021 was part of a breakout year that saw her sweep all three of NYRA’s grade 1 steeplechase events, earning wins in two of them with eventual champion Steeplechaser The Mean Queen .

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Upland Flats Racing’s Freddy Flintshire finished second to runaway winner Cool Jets last out in the Green Pastures at Percy Warner, defeated seven lengths after making up moderate ground from third position throughout.

The talented Flintshire  gelding has never finished off the board in seven starts for Brion, including three wins that were topped by a 14 1/2-length romp to win the Queen’s Cup MPC Chase in April at Charlotte where he rallied from 12 lengths off the pace.

Atlantic Friends Racing’s Historic Heart will make his second start off a year-long layoff that followed a fourth-place finish in last year’s Smithwick. The chestnut Fracas  gelding’s lone start since was a last-out fourth on the flat in a 1 3/8-mile maiden special weight on July 1 at Delaware Park where he dueled for the early lead and faded in the stretch.

Completing the field are the evergreen graded stakes-winner Redicean  for trainer Leslie Young; Lonesome Glory (NSA-G1) winner Noah and the Ark (IRE) for trainer Todd McKenna; the Patrick Neville-trained Salvino , who adds blinkers for his American debut; West Newton  who is undefeated in two starts this year for trainer Richard Hendriks; and the multiple graded stakes-placed Belfast Banter  for trainer Cyril Murphy.

The A.P. Smithwick is the first race on Wednesday’s 10-race card, the co-feature on the card with the $150,000 NYSSS Statue of Liberty.

Entries: A.P. Smithwick Memorial H. (G1)

Saratoga Race Course, Wednesday, July 19, 2023, Race 1

  • Grade I
  • 2 1/16m
  • Hurdle
  • $150,000
  • 4 yo’s & up
  • 1:10 PM (local)

This press release has been edited for content and style by BloodHorse Staff.

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