Beverly R. Steinman’s Dark Equation bounced back from a loss to his stablemate earlier this meet to take the $159,300 New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase Handicap (NSA-I) by a half-length over Be Certain at Saratoga Aug. 28.
Stablemate High Action, who defeated Dark Equation in the A.P. Smithwick Memorial (NSA-II) at Saratoga on Aug. 7, finished third.
Trained by Paul Fout and ridden by Matt McCarron, who teamed up to win this race in 2005 with Hirapour, 7-year-old Dark Equation completed the 2 3/8 miles over national fences in 4:31.28 on the firm course. He paid $19 to win.
Longshot Four Schools and Salford City, two Irish-breds, separated themselves from the rest early and after seven furlongs were completed, they held a 20-length lead.
That long lead continued as they went to the clubhouse turn on the final lap.
Salford City claimed the lead after the second backstretch fence as the pace caught up to Four Schools. The margin between leader and field began to shorten, and soon Salford City was a casualty as well.
Heading to the final fence, Dark Equation was clear on the outside, High Action was on the inside and Be Certain was in the middle.
Be Certain, who was carrying 139 pounds, while Dark Equation and High Action carried 152 and 150, respectively, took the lead over the final fence, but Dark Equation came on for the victory.
“One-three is not bad,” said Fout, who kept Dark Equation in Saratoga this meet, while High Action shipped back and forth from his Virginia farm. “Unfortunately, the other horse got stopped. Matt (McCarron) had a perfect trip today.”
McCarron, the son of former jockey/TV correspondent Greg McCarron and nephew of retired Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron, marveled at the effort Dark Equation put in to earn his fourth win from 13 career starts over the jumps.
“What a phenomenal spin,” McCarron enthused. “Doug thought (Dark Equation) would thrive up here. Coming over the last fence, Be Certain was getting 13 pounds from Dark Equation. But he is a good, stout horse.
“My horse is a deliberate jumper; he would be a good show jumper. He is almost too good as a jumper, he over-jumps. Be Certain had the advantage on him over the last fence. The race certainly didn’t play out the way we anticipated. We didn’t think we’d see that kind of speed. The plan was to lay off the pace, sit second or third, and that went out the window. Luckily the speed came back and I was able pass horses pretty easily. He really moved past them on his own.”
Duke of Earl was fourth, followed by Free Admission, Luongo, Salford City, Four Schools and Look at Him, who was eased after the eighth fence and left the course.