By Don Clippinger, National Steeplechase Association
Bruton Street-US’s Scorpiancer launched a devastating move to the lead entering the Iroquois Steeplechase’s backstretch the last time, opened a yawning lead on his opponents, and cruised home with to an overpowering 16-length victory in Saturday’s $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1).
Sonny Via’s Hinterland, making his first start in more than 20 months, finished second to give champion trainer Jack Fisher a Grade 1 exacta in the National Steeplechase Association’s richest spring race. Ballybristol Farm’s Andi’amu finished third, 40 lengths farther back.
Irv Naylor’s Dawalan was in contention for the first half of the three-mile race but took a bad fence coming out of the clubhouse turn the second time and was eased through the stretch by jockey Jack Doyle.
Winner of the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 3) in his first start of 2017, Irish-bred picked up his second Grade 1 win, after last fall’s Lonesome Glory Handicap. He ran the Calvin Houghland Iroquois’ three miles in 5:37 flat on ground rated as good.
Ross Geraghty picked up the mount on Andi’amu after Paddy Young fell in an earlier race and called it a day. The catch rider put the French-bred on the lead, with Scorpiancer and McDermott in close company and the other four starters well behind them.
The margin tightened going past the stands the first time, and Dawalan moved closer on the clubhouse turn. But he misjudged a fence and lost all chance. Almost simultaneously, McDermott signaled to Scorpiancer that it was time to go.