NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Demonstrative, the 2012 runner-up for steeplechaser of the year, will make the $150,000, Grade 1 Iroquois Steeplechase his first race over jumps this year.
The 6-year-old gelding will face six rivals over the undulating 3-mile course with 18 national hurdles at Percy Warner Park Course in the feature race of the 72nd annual meet from the Volunteer State Horsemen's Association. Arcadius won this race a year ago only to collapse and die as he was being cooled down at a station just beyond the finish line.
Trainer Richard Valentine prepared Demonstrative for the Iroquois by running a mile and a quarter race on the Queen's Cup card in Mineral Springs, N.C. With regular rider Robbie Walsh aboard, Demonstrative won that race by three quarters of a length in 2 minutes, 20 seconds over a turf course labeled good.
"He galloped out all the way around the turn. So, that race was more like a mile and half," Valentine said when asked if that race would be enough of a test.
Valentine said the gelding, owned by Mrs. Jacqueline Ohrstrom, Jr. of The Plains, Va., had two good runs on a 1-mile gallop uphill in Virginia.
"He should be ready," the trainer said.
A win for Demonstrative would be his third in Grade 1. He already owns the trophies from last year's New York Turf Writers Cup at Saratoga and the Marion DuPont Scott Colonial Cup at Camden, S.C.
Divine Fortune, who was third in the steeplechaser of the year voting, is expected to be Demonstrative's main challenger. Racing in the colors of William L. Pape of Unionville, Pa. for Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, the 10-year-old prepped for the Iroquois with a win in an allowance contest at Stoneybrook, N.C. last month. Darren Nagle will ride again Saturday.
The field will include the Irish-bred Organisateur with Ross Geraghty, Cornhusker with Kieran Norris, the French-bred Molotof with Bernie Dalton, Lake Placid and James Slater and Slip Away with Paddy Young.
The Iroquois will be the eighth and final race Saturday at the event benefitting the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University.