Demonstrative was an Eclipse Award finalist in last season's steeplechase division.

Demonstrative was an Eclipse Award finalist in last season's steeplechase division.

Coglianese Photos

Iroquois Steeplechase Features Demonstrative

Demonstrative will open his jumps season in the Iroquois Steeplechase.

Demonstrative, an Eclipse Award finalist in last season's steeplechase division, will make his 2013 jumps debut in the $150,000 Iroquois Steeplechase May 11 at Percy Warner Park Course in Nashville, Tenn.

The 6-year-old Elusive Quality gelding will face six rivals in the three-mile race that features 18 national hurdles and requires two trips around the undulating 1 1/2-mile course.

This year's race follows last year's tragedy when Arcadius won the race only to collapse and die as he was being cooled down at a station just beyond the finish line.

Trainer Richard Valentine prepared Demonstrative for the Iroquois by running a 1 1/4-mile race, without jumps, on the Queen's Cup card in Mineral Springs, N.C. With regular rider Robbie Walsh aboard, Demonstrative won that race by three quarters of a length in 2 minutes, 20 seconds over a turf course labeled good.

"He galloped out all the way around the turn. So, that race was more like a mile and half,'' Valentine said when asked if that race would be enough of a test. Valentine said the gelding, owned by Mrs. Jacqueline Ohrstrom Jr. of The Plains, Va., had two good runs on a 1-mile gallop uphill in Virginia.

"He should be ready,'' the trainer said.

A win for Demonstrative would be his third top-level steeplechase win. He already owns the trophies from last year's New York Turf Writers Cup at Saratoga and the Marion DuPont Scott Colonial Cup at Camden, S.C.

Divine Fortune is expected to be Demonstrative's main challenger. Racing in the colors of William L. Pape of Unionville, Pa. for Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, the 10-year-old prepped for the Iroquois with a win in an allowance contest at Stoneybrook, N.C. last month. Darren Nagle will ride again Saturday.

The field will include the Irish-bred Organisateur with Ross Geraghty, Cornhusker with Kieran Norris, the French-bred Molotof with Bernie Dalton, Lake Placid and James Slater, and Slip Away with Paddy Young.

The Iroquois will be the eighth and final race Saturday at the event benefitting the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University.