Steeplechase at Saratoga takes another turn going over 9 fences around 5 turns at 2 3/8 miles as the best in the Novice division face off in the Michael Walsh stakes.
The COVID-19 outbreak in the Colonial Downs jockey colony did not affect the jump riders since the jump riders were stationed in a separate building during the meet.
In addition to riding jump winners at Saratoga, jockey Thomas Garner was part of a human chain that saved a family from flood waters on August 4, 2020 on Rt. 82 in Pennsylvania next to Michael and Dede Matz’s farm paddock fence (Barbaro), just down the road from me and the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup and Cheshire Hunt Point to Point courses.
Here is a link to the video.
The last Novice race of the year goes through #1 Snap Decision but will the 165 weight assignment be too much. Under the allowance conditions of a 3 pound penalty for every race won, a Novice runner has never carried this much weight. The last time a winner at Saratoga carried 160 or more pounds to victory was in 1996. They usually move to the open division and get a weight break. For the record, Flatterer carried the most weight to victory in a US steeplechase race when he won the National Hunt Cup Steeplechase Handicap at Radnor in 1986 carrying 176 pounds. So #1 Snap Decision can set a record for Novice runners if he wins. He has a 151 rating, 17-31 points better than the rest of the field. Since the weight spread is 12-18 pounds, he still has an advantage. Excellent flat track speed is also an asset.
Can anyone come close to #1 Snap Decision?
#2 Fast Car has a chance since he is in with light weight at 147 pounds, keeps jockey Mike Mitchell, is trained by Jack Fisher, and ran well winning his prior Saratoga race.
# 7 Duc de Meran is making his US debut from France, is 2nd highest rated at 134, and trained by Ricky Hendriks. Usually, the first try in the US is a flop for Euros and this will likely be the firmest ground he’s ever run over. Ricky says he is training well and likes to run on the front end so he may try to go wire to wire.
#4 Galway Kid came the closest to beating #1 Snap Decision only losing by 1 ½ lengths. Using my assumption that 1 pound equals 1 length at more than a 2 mile distance, #4 Galway Kid gets the biggest boost from the 3 pound penalty for #1 Snap Decision.
The rest of the field will have to improve dramatically to win.
Race pace will have # 7 Duc de Meran and #6 Family Tree setting and pressing the pace early. Since slowing the pace down in the Kiser didn’t work trying to beat #1 Snap Decision, the early pace will be solid but not too fast. As demonstrated in the Kiser, #1 Snap Decision and #4 Galway Kid have the best late pace along with #2 Fast Car. #1 Snap Decision, #4 Galway Kid and #2 Fast Car will all draw away after the last fence with the best closing kick that will win.
Good Luck at the races!