Sur La Tete Gets Job Done in Iroquois 'Chase

(from NSA release)
Kinross Farm's Sur La Tete did the dirty work of running down pacesetter Bow Strada on the long run up the backstretch, but still won the $150,000 Iroquois Steeplechase (NSA-I) Saturday.

Sur La Tete, guided by Chris Read, rated as far back as fourth in the seven-horse field, but had no choice but to kick on from second with a mile to run. The favorite caught the front-runner at the 16th of 18 fences, but was quickly joined by Erin Go Bragh and Feeling So Pretty.

The challengers pounced at the top of the stretch, but came up short as Sur La Tete powered away to win by 6 1/2 lengths over Feeling So Pretty with Erin Go Bragh third. A Kentucky-bred son of Sky Classic, Sur La Tete covered the 3 miles in 5:47 3/5 and won his second grade I of 2006.

"It basically left me giving a lead to Erin Go Bragh, who was tracking me, but I had to go when I did," said Read. "I had enough to hold them off, but I would have rather had something to run at up the stretch. He was getting tired, but he's a fighter. If a horse comes to him, he's going to try with everything he has. He'll go until he's done."

With the win, Sur La Tete took a commanding lead in the early race for the 2006 Eclipse Award as champion steeplechaser. The 8-year-old has won both of his starts, with earnings of $193,825. The Iroquois lost some of its drama when McDynamo, Sur La Tete's chief rival, was scratched after developing a fever the day before the race.

Still, the winner's performance was special -- even if it lacked some of the power of his usual victories. Sur La Tete won for the ninth time (including his last three) in 18 career jump starts and boosted his career steeplechase earnings past $637,000.

In other action, Bill Pape's Mixed Up won the $50,000 Marcellus Frost Stakes (NSA-III) for trainer Jonathan Sheppard and jockey Danielle Hodsdon.

Irish import Allimac (Jody Petty) won the $75,000 Mason Houghland Memorial Timber for trainer Sanna Hendriks.