Elizabeth Voss Murray, who this past spring took over the stable of her late father, leading Maryland trainer Tom Voss, registered her first graded stakes win July 31 when Jack Doyle piloted Makari to a nose victory over Demonstrative in the $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase (NSA-I) at Saratoga Race Course (WATCH VIDEO).
Makari, a 7-year-old gelded son of the Irish stallion Makbul, was making his first start in the United States after having won a pair of allowance races in England. Content to run in seventh as Pleasant Woodman led the field of 10 to the final turn of the 2 1/16-mile race over National Fences, Makari moved into contention nearing the final hurdle and won by a bob at the wire over Demonstrative.
"This is my first graded win, and it's exciting to have it be in Saratoga, a place we love so much," said Voss Murray, whose father, a five-time leading National Steeplechase Association trainer, died suddenly at the age of 63 in January. "We can't take a lot of credit for this horse, we've only had him two weeks. My husband picked him out for his owners (Merriebelle Stable); he got off the plane, and he seemed pretty straightforward.
"It means so much. We took a chance and it worked out. The last jump always makes me nervous; I thought we got the bob last week, and that we missed it this week."
Voss Murray said Makari would be considered for the Aug. 21 New York Turf Writers' Cup (NSA-I), which this year is being run in honor of her father. He completed the 2 1/16 miles in 3:48.33 and returned $11.60 for a $2 win bet.
The victory was also the first in the United States for his jockey.
"We had a perfect way around," said Doyle. "He traveled like a dream the whole way, never missed a beat. I actually didn't think I got there, another couple of strides and I would have. It was brilliant."
Runner-up Demonstrative was 7 1/4 lengths clear of Pleasant Woodman, with All Together and Staying On checking in fourth and fifth, respectively. Italian Wedding, who was sixth, had the best finish of the favored three-pronged entry from Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, whose Barnstorming finished ninth while Divine Fortune left the course. Completing the order of finish were Spy in the Sky, who was seventh, and Wanganui, who was eighth.
Makari, bred in Great Britain by Longdon Stud out of the Lashkari mare Seraphim, improved his career record to 7-3-1 from 15 outs for earnings of $121,572.