Portrade after winning the 2016 New York Turf Writers Cup at Saratoga

Portrade after winning the 2016 New York Turf Writers Cup at Saratoga

Skip Dickstein

Portrade Aims to Repeat in New York Turf Writers Cup

Top four finishers from Smithwick to contest New York Turf Writers Cup.

One year after registering a front-end victory in the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (NSA-1), Portrade will try to defend that title when he faces an expected 11 other runners in the 2 3/8-mile steeplechase Aug. 24 at Saratoga Race Course.

While Portrade seeks to defend his 2016 victory, owner The Fields Stable and trainer Elizabeth Voss will try to win the race for a third straight time after taking the 2015 edition with Bob Le Beau.

Portrade has not won since last year's New York Turf Writers Cup, but he has been competitive in his four starts—all stakes—since that effort with two placings and two fourth-place finishes. The 8-year-old Trade Fair gelding enters off a fourth in the A. P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase Handicap (NSA-1) July 27 at Saratoga. That effort marked the first start in more than two months for Portrade, who will need to improve Thursday as the top three finishers from the Smithwick also will contest the New York Turf Writers.

"He put in a nice work the other day; he's a horse who just doesn't want to get beat, and he tries his heart out," Voss said.

Portrade entered last year's New York Turf Writers off a third-place finish in the Smithwick.

"He needed that race this year so hopefully with that under his belt will help," Voss said. "Jumping is his strong suit, so it doesn't help that we don't have the last fence, but he'll give it his all. He started kind of fading down the backside [last out] but he ran well. I was happy with him."

Awaiting Portrade Thursday will be upset Smithwick winner Swansea Mile, as well as that race's runner-up Modem, who also is trained by Voss; and third-place finisher Diplomat.

Rosbrian Farm's Swansea Mile, trained by Richard Hendriks, raced near mid-pack early in the Smithwick before taking over in the stretch to score a two-length win under Michael Mitchell. The victory snapped an 11-race losing streak for Swansea Mile dating back to his last win April 19, 2016, at Kempton Park in England.

Voss said Robert Kinsley's Modem, a 7-year-old Motivator (GB) gelding, ran well to secure a stakes placing in his U.S. debut.

"Coming from Europe and finishing second, I was really (pleased) with him," Voss said. "He's been doing well. I wish it was three weeks between the races instead of four. It's just a little more than they're used to, but knock on wood, everything is (fine)."

Entries: New York Turf Writers Cup H. (G1)

Saratoga Race Course, Thursday, August 24, 2017, Race 1

  • Grade I
  • 2 3/8m
  • Hurdle
  • $150,000
  • 4 yo's & up
  • 1:00 PM (local)
PPHorseJockeyWgtTrainerM/L
11All the Way Jose (PA)Darren Nagle144Jonathan E. Sheppard8/1
22Modem (GB)Jack Doyle156Elizabeth Voss7/2
33Portrade (IRE)Gustav Dahl146Elizabeth Voss6/1
44Show Court (IRE)Ross Geraghty144Archibald J. Kingsley, Jr.12/1
55Alcazar de Maram (KY)Gerard Galligan136Jonathan E. Sheppard10/1
66Diplomat (KY)Bernard Dalton138Kate Dalton8/1
77Colla Pier (IRE)Robert Dunne137David Dunne12/1
88Mr. Hot Stuff (KY)Keeneland Sales GraduateSean McDermott154Jack O. Fisher8/1
99Casino Markets (IRE)Leighton Aspell150Emma Lavelle20/1
1010Swansea Mile (IRE)Michael Mitchell146Richard J. Hendriks9/2
1111Three Kingdoms (IRE)Sean Flanagan144George Weaver15/1
1212Choral Society (FL)Danny Mullins144Jack O. Fisher15/1