Finding a clear path on the outside at just the right time, jockey Robert Walsh deftly avoided trouble on Demonstrative when leader Divine Fortune fell over the final jump, going on to win the 71st running of the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase Handicap (NSA-I) at Saratoga Race Course Aug. 23 (VIDEO).
Demonstrative, a 5-year-old gelded son of Elusive Quality, emerged from his victory in the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 26 at Saratoga to capture the first graded stakes win of his career, jumping the 10 fences and completing the 2 3/8-mile course in 4:33.
"I won the Maryland Hunt Cup, but this would have to be right (up) there," said trainer Richard Valentine of scoring the first grade I win of his career. "I mostly train timber horses, so to win a race like this with the tradition of Saratoga, this takes the cake."
Saving ground most of the way as Decoy Daddy and All Together made the pace, Demonstrative angled out in the stretch, while Spy in the Sky, winner of the Aug. 2 A.P. Smithwick Memorial (NSA-I), went widest and also bid for the lead. With a furlong to go, Divine Fortune grabbed the front but went down over the final fence. Nationbuilder went down behind him. Both horses and riders escaped injury.
Demonstrative kicked away in the lane to score by a length over Charminster. Off at odds of 5-1, he paid $13.60 for a $2 win bet.
"He is much stronger than last year, and he's in great form," Walsh said in the winner's circle. "Richard (Valentine) has done a great job in getting this horse back to his form. It got a little bit tight late in the race. A couple of times we had to check, but this horse is brave."
Demonstrative won for the fifth time in 15 starts over jumps. Valentine said with the grade I victory, he will campaign Demonstrative with a possible Eclipse Award in mind and point toward the $150,000 Lonesome Glory (NSA-I) September 23 at Belmont Park | BloodHorse.com Track Profile">Belmont Park.