Bob Le Beau triumphs in A. P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase

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TwinSpires Staff

August 4th, 2016

Edited Press Release

The Fields Stable's Bob Le Beau, content to lag behind the field for much of the 2 1/16-mile steeplechase event, closed with a rush to capture the $125,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase (NSA-G1) at Saratoga on Thursday.

The 20th running of the Smithwick featured eight jumps. Longshot Portrade led the way through the first seven jumps before being overtaken leaving fence No. 7 by 19-1 Balance the Budget. That runner, with jockey Mark Watts aboard, came away with the lead but a calvary charge of jumpers bore down on them in the stretch.

Bob Le Beau, piloted by Jack Doyle, closed fastest of all and prevailed by a length over Scorpiancer, who also employed late-running tactics to pick up his piece of the Smithwick purse. Pacesetter Portrade held on for third in the 10-horse field of jumpers.

The Elizabeth Voss-trained Bob Le Beau, the 158-pound highweight, prepped for the Smithwick, a race he finished fourth in last year, by winning a 1 1/2-mile flat race over the Parx Racing turf on July 10. The Smithwick was his first hurdle race since last November.

Voss said the subtraction this year of the last fence in the stretch of steeplechase races is a boon for Bob Le Beau.

"It makes a big difference with him in a longer race. He doesn't like the longer distances but without that last jump, he was able to get up and get the win," she explained. "I was surprised he was that far back, I was telling Jack, 'You scared me there,' but I know he's got a huge kick. Carrying that weight, I was a little worried with that many lengths to make up, but it worked out. It was a great race."

Doyle didn't experience the anxious moments that Voss did.

"As long as he relaxes and settles, then the end of the race isn't a problem because he has so much in reserve," Doyle noted. "He has so much speed when he gets going, you can point him and put him anywhere you want."

Bob Le Beau returned $3.80 for the win as the 4-5 favorite, stopping the clock in 3.51.20 over Saratoga’s firm turf. He adds the Smithwick to victories in the Lonesome Glory Hurdle (NSA-G1), New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase (NSA-G1) and National Hunt Cup (NSA-G3) from last season.

Bob Le Beau photo courtesy of Ronnie Betor/