Eldon Farms' Hirapour, the 2004 Eclipse Award champion steeplechase horse, will have jockey Chip Miller aboard for the first time when he goes up against a veteran field of seven rivals in Monday's $75,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial (NSA-II) at Saratoga.
With Hirapour's regular jockey Matt McCarron out after breaking his arm in a fall on opening day, trainer Doug Fout opted to go with Miller, who won the 1996 Smithwick on Cheering News. Hirapour has been installed as the 2-1 morning line choice.
Hirapour, a 9-year-old gelding, is coming off an impressive win over Sur La Tete and 2004 Breeders' Cup Steeplechase winner My Dynamo in the Royal Chase (NSA-I) on April 22 at Keeneland. He has won nine of his last 12 jump starts dating back to 2003 with three runner-up finishes.
Mrs. Henry Stern's 5-year-old gelding Paradise's Boss comes into the Smithwick off two impressive victories in the Meadow Brook June 12 at Belmont Park and the Zeke Ferguson Memorial July 17 at Colonial Downs where he beat McDynamo by 5 1/4 lengths. He is the 5-2 second choice in Monday's event.
The ultra-consistent Serazzo, owned by Martin Cherry and trained by Tommy Voss, figures to be a major factor. A relative newcomer to the steeplechase game, the rugged 9-year-old has finished on the board in five of six tries over the hurdles, recording three victories and two seconds. Serazzo is listed as the 4-1 third choice.
The Augustin Stable's Praise The Prince has an affinity for the Saratoga Race Course. Trained by Sanna Hendriks, the 10-year-old gelding has won five of nine career jump starts at the Spa, including the 2004 and 2001 Smithwick and the 2003 New York Turf Writers Cup. He has not won this year, however, in four tries.
Ken and Sarah Ramsey's 6-year-old gelding Party Airs comes into the Smithwick in fine form after romping to a 30-length win in the Flatterer Handicap for Pennsylvania-breds July 23 at Philadelphia Park.$75,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase Stakes (NSA-II), 4 & up, 2 1/16 miles (turf)
PP. Horse, Jockey, Weight, ML Odds
1. Paradise's Boss (FL), 150, 5/2
2. Mulahen (GB), Robert Massey, 150, 20/1
3. Party Airs (PA), Cyril Murphy, 150, 10/1
4. Praise the Prince (NZ), Jody Petty, 154, 6/1
5. Serazzo (KY), Blair Waterman, 150, 4/1
6. Hirapour (IRE), F. Bruce Miller, Jr., 158, 2/1
7. Bow Strada (GB), Robert Walsh, 154, 15/1
8. Understood (VA), Anthony Dobbin, 150, 12/1