Modem Looks To Go One Better In Thursday’s A.P. Smithwick

Robert Kinsley’s Modem will look to take the next step coming off five straight runner-up efforts when he headlines a seven-horse field in the Grade 1, $175,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial on Thursday at Saratoga Race Course.

The first steeplechase graded stakes at Saratoga’s 40-day meet, the 22nd running of the 2 1/16-mile hurdle stakes will give Modem a chance to earn his first trip to the winner’s circle since arriving from Europe.

The English-bred made his North American debut in last year’s A.P. Smithwick, finishing second to Swansea Mile by two lengths. That was the first of five consecutive second-place performances in Grade 1 hurdle races, including last out when he ran five lengths back to Zanjabeel in the Iroquois on May 12 at Percy Warner in his seasonal bow.

“We didn’t start him early since there’s a long year ahead of us, but he’s doing great,” said trainer Elizabeth Voss, who won the Smithwick with Bob Le Beau in 2016 and Makari in 2014. “Not having the last jump hurts us because he’s a great jumper who plugs away and tries his hardest. We’ll see what we got taking on some of these young guns.”

The 8-year-old Modem ran at three miles in the Iroquois and will be cutting back in distance after finishing a nose behind Mr. Hot Stuff in the Grade 1 Grand National at 2 5/8 miles on October 21 at Far Hills and 1 ¾ lengths back on All the Way Jose in the Lonesome Glory Handicap at 2 ½ miles on September 21 at Belmont Park.


“This year, he’s put on a lot of weight and is better conditioned,” Voss said. “He ran well last year coming here. He doesn’t have a lot of different paces. It might be more a jockeys race.”


Modem, the 9-5 favorite, drew post 2 and will have the services of jockey Jack Doyle, who rode both of Voss’ Smithwick winners, carrying the highweight of 156 pounds.


All the Way Jose, who walked off in the Iroquois, will look for a better finish in the Smithwick after losing the rider last year. The 8-year-old gelding rebounded to finish strong at Saratoga last summer, running third in the Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap on August 24, which preceded a win in the Grade 1 Lonesome Glory Handicap on September 21 at Belmont.


Trainer Jonathan Sheppard has won the Smithwick six times, with his first coming with Romantic in 1998 and his last when Divine Fortune repeated in 2011, capping a stretch of three in a row and four in five years as Mixed Up also won in 2007 and 2009.


All the Way Jose, 5-2 on the morning line, drew post 4 with jockey Ross Geraghty carrying 154 pounds.


His stablemate, Iranistan, will look to extend his streak of four straight wins entering his first graded stakes appearance. The field’s youngest horse by three years, the 4-year-old Kentucky bred will have Darren Nagle aboard from post 1 carrying 143 pounds at odds of 3-1.


Personal Start will put a three-race winning streak on the line. The Richard Valentine trainee won his graded stakes debut last out, notching an eight-length score in the Grade 2 David Semmes Memorial on May 5 at Great Meadow.


Ridden by Barry Foley, Personal Start, 9-2, will carry 146 pounds from post 6.


Show Court won a stakes at Saratoga, capturing the Jonathan Kiser Novice last year. After back-to-back finishes out of the money in Grade 1s, the 9-year-old Irish bred ran third against allowance company on July 8 at Suffolk Downs.


Trained by Archibald Kingsley, Jr., Show Court, 12-1, will break from the outside with Michael Mitchell in the irons from the outside post carrying 144 pounds.


Rounding out the field is Overwhelming, trained by Jack Fisher, from post 6 and Oskar Denarius, trained by Ben Pauling, will exit from post 2.

The post Modem Looks To Go One Better In Thursday’s A.P. Smithwick appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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