Scorpiancer Cruises to Iroquois Victory [National Steeplechase Association]

Scorpiancer Cruises to Iroquois Victory [National Steeplechase Association]

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.

One Lucky Lady Seeks Henley Repeat

By Don Clippinger, National Steeplechase Association

Leading owner Irv Naylor’s One Lucky Lady battled to a front-running victory in last year’s $50,000 Margaret Currey Henley, and she again will be the horse to catch in Saturday’s renewal of the Iroquois Steeplechase’s featured hurdle race for fillies and mares.

Trained by Cyril Murphy, One Lucky Lady will be making her 2017 debut and will be ridden by Sean McDermott.

The nine-year- old British-bred mare will be facing some stiff competition in a large field. Chief among her challengers is owner-trainer Hill Parker’s Get Ready Set Goes, the reigning female champion.

Ice It looks to Stay Hot in Marcellus Frost

By Don Clippinger, National Steeplechase Association

DASH Stable’s Ice It, winner of the Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase in his most recent start, attempt to keep his winning streak alive in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s $100,000 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for American Steeplechasing’s rising stars on Saturday.

Trained by Jack Fisher, the 2015 three-year- old champion bounced back to win the $75,000 Queen’s Cup on April 29 after a lackluster sixth-place finish in the $75,000 Carolina Cup four weeks earlier. Sean McDermott has the mount on the silvery Tapit gelding.

Mark W. Buyck Jr.’s Show Court, the Carolina Cup victor, finished second in the Queen’s Cup and will be attempting to go one up on his rival. Trained by Arch Kingsley Jr., Show Court will be ridden by Willie McCarthy.

Post Positions Drawn for Saturday's Iroquois Steeplechase


The beautiful Percy Warner Park was the setting for this morning's Post Position Drawing, sponsored by FarmVet. The crowd -- which included sponsors, race committee members, owners and trainers -- gathered at the Steeplechase barn at 8AM for the traditional drawing and breakfast. Dwight Hall, chairman of the race committee, and Steven K. Heard, secretary of the race committee, oversaw the ceremony as sponsors and patrons of the event were invited to draw the post positions for each of Saturday's seven races from a leather bag. 

The number drawn indicates the starting position for each horse at the beginning of a race. The first post is closest to the rail and the last is furthest. 

Crowd favorites Scorpiancer and Dawalan will take the first and second posts, respectively, for the final race of the day, the $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1).


Nichols Canyon to Miss Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) [National Steeplechase Association]

Nichols Canyon to Miss Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) [National Steeplechase Association]

By Don Clippinger, National Steeplechase Association

A top-drawer field was taking shape Monday for the $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1), but missing from Saturday’s race will be Nichols Canyon, the Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle winner who sustained an injury while shipping to the United States.

Andrea and Graham Wylie’s Cheltenham Festival victor was regarded as the favorite in the three-mile Calvin Houghland Iroquois and was shooting for the $500,000 TVV Capital Iroquois-Cheltenham Challenge, a bonus paid to the winner of the Stayers’ Hurdle and the Nashville race in the same 12-month period.

Willie Mullins, who trains Nichols Canyon for the Wylies, informed Iroquois Steeplechase officials of the injury, which occurred in transit from Ireland.

Stakes Winners Top Marcellus Frost Nominees

By Don Clippinger, National Steeplechase Association

Stakes winners Ice It and Show Court are among 16 nominees to Iroquois Steeplechase’s $100,000 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle, a showcase for American Steeplechasing’s rising stars, on Saturday, May 13.

Show Court, owned by prominent South Carolina attorney Mark W. Buyck Jr., struck first with a seven-length victory in the Carolina Cup for novices—horses in their first seasons of competition over fences—on April 1.

DASH Stable’s Ice It, sixth in the Carolina Cup, came back on April 29 to run a strong race in the Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase, also for novices, at the Queen’s Cup Steeplechase near Charlotte, N.C. In that race, Ice It closed ground late to overtake a front-running Show Court and won by a length.

Ice It is trained by Jack Fisher, and Irish-bred Show Court is trained by Arch Kingsley Jr.

Fisher, the sport’s champion trainer for the last five years, also nominated Bruton Street-US’s Moscato, winner of a Queen’s Cup maiden hurdle, and Gil Johnston’s With Rhythm, a maiden winner at the Atlanta Steeplechase on April 22.

Leading owner Irv Naylor nominated Osmoz, winner of a Middleburg Spring ratings handicap on April 22, and newcomer Royal Caviar, who would be making his first U.S. start after finishing fourth in the Racing Post Arkle Challenge Trophy Steeplechase at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Both are trained by Cyril Murphy.

Nichols Canyon Nominated to Calvin Houghland Iroquois

Nichols Canyon Nominated to Calvin Houghland Iroquois

By Don Clippinger, National Steeplechase Association

Andrea and Graham Wylie’s dynamic duo of Nichols Canyon and Shaneshill have been nominated for a return trip to the United States and an assault on the biggest prize of American Steeplechasing’s spring season, the $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) on Saturday, May 13.

The Calvin Houghland Iroquois will cap an exciting day of racing at the 76th annual Iroquois Steeplechase at Nashville’s Percy Warner Park, where $525,000 will be on the line in its seven jump races. First post time will be 1 p.m.

Much is at stake in the three-mile race for Nichols Canyon, the third finisher last year who now is in line for the $500,000 TVV Capital Cheltenham-Iroquois Challenge. The prize goes to the horse that wins the Calvin Houghland Iroquois and Cheltenham’s Sun Bets Stayers’ Hurdle in the same 12-month period.