How to bet the A. P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase Stakes
The opener on a fine Thursday of racing at Saratoga features nine contenders going postward in the $100,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase (G1). The 2 1/16-mile event run over national fences marks the return of Grade 1 star #3 Optimus Prime (9-5) from the barn of Richard Hendricks. And the race goes through the 8-year-old gelding.
Optimus Prime will be making his first start since July 2019 and has proven capable off of long breaks in the past. The French-bred made his U.S. debut in the 2018 New York Turf Writers (G1) after a long absence, and he was a facile winner in the Saratoga showpiece.
The bay will have a rider change for the first time since arriving in the states with Darren Nagle taking the call.
2019 Lonesome Glory (G1) victor #6 Surprising Soul (6-1) gives Hendricks a dangerous one-two punch in the Smithwick. The Perfect Soul 8-year-old is not the most consistent jumper in the cast, but his speed must always be respected over the tight course which he owns a win upon. Regular pilot Ross Geraghty will be in the irons once again.
#5 Moscato (2-1) dominated taking the Temple Gwathmey (G3) for the second consecutive season last time out. One of three in the field for conditioner Jack Fisher, the Hernando gray has positive experience over the surface and has to be included in the exotics with Michael Mitchell in the controls.
The other contender that I will include is Grade 2 winner #4 Gibralfaro (10-1). Also from the Fisher shedrow, the bay gelding is Grade-1 placed on the course and had a decent prep in advance of his second 2020 assignment. He is eligible to improve on Thursday.
- $1 Superfecta: 3 with 4,5,6 with 4,5,6 with all ($36)
- $1 Trifecta: 3,6 with 3,6 with all ($14)