Praise the Prince Returns in A.P. Smithwick

(from Saratoga report)
Augustin Stable's Praise the Prince, winner of the added A.P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase (NSA-II) in 2001 and runner-up in the event last year, returns to Saratoga Race Course Thursday in the $75,000-added jumping event.

He takes on eight rivals.

After Praise the Prince ran second in the Smithwick last year, he rebounded to win the meet's top steeplechase event, the New York Turf Writers Cup (NSA-I). He was the crowd favorite at 5-2 that day. That victory, however, proved costly.

"He hurt himself in the New York Turf Writers Cup," said trainer Sanna Hendriks. "He hurt his tendon below the knee, and, unfortunately, it kept him out of the Breeders' Cup. We weren't able to start training him until November or December."

The 9-year-old Praise the Prince has a history of coming back from injury. He made only two starts in 2002, including a neck loss in the Iroquois (NSA-I) before calling it a season because of a minor leg injury.

In 2003, he made six starts, with two seconds and two thirds before finally getting his victory in the New York Turf Writers Cup.

This is his first race in 2004, although he ran at Saratoga on July 25th, winning an exhibition turf race on the flat. He loped 12 furlongs in 2:45 around the "dogs."

"It was a just a workout, but it was a good one for him," Hendriks said. "He is right back to where he left off last year. He has always been a terrific jumper and he has been training very well.

"They have been very kind in the weights, and everyone is carrying about the same, which I am happy about. I expect him to run a big race on Thursday."

Gus Brown is Praise the Prince's regular rider, but Brown suffered a broken leg in a training accident about three weeks ago. Robert Massey picks up the mount at 154 pounds.

Tres Touche, second in the New York Turf Writers Cup last year, returns under jockey David Bentley, also at 154 pounds. Winner of the Iroquois in May, he exits a fourth-place finish as beaten favorite in his last start.

An unknown player here is Eldon Farm LLC's Santenay, a 6-year-old, French-bred gelding by Mister Mat, who will be making his American debut.

"I bought Santenay at the Doncaster Sales, and left him with (trainer) Joan Winter over in Europe," said trainer Paul Douglas Fout. "He is just a lovely horse, and he has a wonderful attitude."

Fout said he is trying to keep Santenay apart from stable star Hirapour (Ire) who has won eight of his last nine starts.

Santenay, along with stablemate, Barzulu, will race on Lasix for the first time.

$75,000-added A.P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase Handicap (NSA-II)
1. Barzulu (NZ), P. Douglas Fout, Gerry Carwood, 142
2. Najjm, F. Bruce Miller, Robert Walsh, 142
3. Tres Touche, Robert J. Hendriks, David Bentley, 154
4. Indispensable, Jack Fisher, Blair Waterman, 150
5. Saitensohn (GER), Jack Fisher, Tom Foley, 142
6. Party Airs, Thomas V. Voss, Cyril Murphy, 150
7. Praise the Prince (NZ), Sanna Hendriks, Robert Massey, 154
8. Tallow, F. Bruce Miller, Chip Miller, 150
9. Santenay (FR), P. Douglas Fout, Matt McCarron, 154