Hall of Fame trainer Jack Fisher will saddle Gibralfaro and Cite for a strong one-two punch in the Grade 1, $150,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase at Saratoga Race Course on Thursday, July 22.
In the first steeplechase graded stakes at Saratoga's 40-day meet, the 24th running of the 2 1/16-mile test for 4-year-olds and up will see Riverdee Stable's multiple Grade 1-placed Gibralfaro make his third attempt in the prestigious event after finishing fourth in 2019 and third last year.
||French Light (FR)
||Baltimore Bucko (GB)
||Galway Kid (IRE)
The 9-year-old Dalakhani bay has finished second in both starts this year, including last out in the Grade 3 David Semmes Memorial on May 29 at Great Meadow in Virginia.
"He's doing really well. There was just too much left for him to do at the end last time," Fisher said. "He was closing and with another couple jumps he would have won it, but we didn't have another couple jumps."
Fisher compared Gibralfaro, who will carry 148 pounds, to Woodslane Farm homebred Sadler's Joy, a late-running Grade 1-winner on the flat, who has banked $2.6 million for trainer Tom Albertrani.
"One of my clients owns Sadler's Joy and he's a horse that has to wait and wait and it's the same with Gibralfaro, if he gets to the front too soon they're going to beat him," Fisher said. "You can't just let him go and see what happens. You have to wait on him."
Mrs. S. K. Johnston, Jr.'s Cite, an 8-year-old son of Blame, will make his first start in graded company. Out of the stakes-winning Mighty mare Cross, Cite boasts a record of 27-5-3-4.
Fisher said Cite, who won an allowance event on the Saratoga turf in 2019, will also look to sit and make one run, carrying a co-field low of 142 pounds.
"He'll never be a rabbit because he won't go in front," Fisher said. "I've limited opportunities where I can run him and he did win at Saratoga a couple years ago, so we'll give it a shot and see. I like that he's getting weight off."
Graham Watters has the call on Gibralfaro from post 6, while Jamie Bargary will pilot Cite from post 2.
Leslie Young will send out Sharon E. Sheppard's Redicean, a 7-year-old son of Medicean, for his seasonal debut as the field highweight at 154 pounds.
Redicean has made four of his last five starts in Grade 1 company, with his best result coming last out when second to Rashaan in the New York Turf Writers Handicap in August at the Spa.
An eight-time winner from 29 starts, Redicean will have the services of returning rider Gerard Galligan from post 4.
Rounding out the field are a trio of entrants for trainer Keri Brion in Irvin Naylor's French Light [144 pounds, Richard Condon, post 1], Buttonwood Farm's Baltimore Bucko [142 pounds, Thomas Garner, post 3] and Hudson River Farms' Galway Kid [148 pounds, Bernard Dalton, post 5].
The A.P. Smithwick is slated as the opening race on Thursday's 10-race card. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.
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