Edited press release
Two-time steeplechase champion McDynamo and Saratoga grade I winner Mixed Up are set to clash in a rare night steeplechase at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, N.J., Sept. 29.
The $75,000 Somerset Medical Center Stakes (NSA-II) attracted a field of seven and will be a key prep for the $250,000 Breeders' Cup Grand National (NSA-I) at Far Hills, N.J., Oct. 28. McDynamo has won the last three runnings of that grade I and takes his first step toward number four in the Somerset. The 2 1/2-mile stakes is the third race on the track's opening night card. Post time for the only jump race at the Meadowlands is 8:17 p.m.
Owned by Michael Moran, McDynamo got off to a slow start in 2006 while trying to repeat his 2005 Eclipse Award season. The 9-year-old son of Dynaformer
was pulled up in the Royal Chase for the Sport of Kings Hurdle Stakes (NSA-I) at Keeneland in April and missed his next scheduled start in May due to shipping fever. Given the summer off, McDynamo can re-ignite his title aspirations with a good run through the season's final three major races -- the Somerset, the Breeders' Cup, and the Colonial Cup (NSA-I) Nov. 19 in Camden, S.C.
"We're looking at it like we're trying to get to the next (race), so he might be a little short, though I don't think he'll be too short," said McDynamo's trainer, Sanna N. Hendriks. "He's doing great and I'm happy with him. I'm sure there will be a doubter here or there, but I don't have any reason to doubt him."
The 8-5 morning-line favorite, McDynamo shoulders high weight of 162 pounds in the handicap and will be ridden by regular jockey Jody Petty. A winner in 11 of 19 steeplechase starts, the Kentucky-bred sits second on the National Steeplechase Association's career earnings list with $833,104 ($132,705 behind Lonesome Glory).
The old guard will get a test at the Meadowlands, chiefly in the form of Mixed Up, the 2-1 second choice. Owned by Bill Pape and trained by Jonathan Sheppard, the 7-year-old has won three consecutive stakes. Bred in Pennsylvania, Mixed Up owns the rare distinction of winning a half-dozen races on the flat and another half-dozen over jumps. Danielle Hodsdon rides at 152 pounds.
Veteran stakes horse Praise The Prince tries to turn back time in his first start in more than a year for Hendriks and owner Augustin Stable. Now 11, the New Zealand import has won nine American jump races and more than $567,000. He last won in 2004. Paddy Young rides at 148 pounds.
Others entered include Lone Arrow, Swoop and Soar, Toughkenamon, and Feeling So Pretty.
The field (with jockey, weight, and morning-line odds) in post position order:
1--Lone Arrow, Matt McCarron, 142, 8-1
2--Praise The Prince, Paddy Young, 148, 6-1
3--McDynamo, Jody Petty,162, 8-5
4--Swoop And Soar, Xavier Aizpuru, 136, 20-1
5--Mixed Up, Jonathan Sheppard, Danielle Hodsdon, 152, 2-1
6--Toughkenamon, Kathy McKenna, Robbie Walsh, 138, 15-1
7--Feeling So Pretty, Cyril Murphy, 139, 10-1