G1-winner Awakened leads field for rescheduled G1 Beverly R. Steinman
Stakes Advance
Jun 16, 2024
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G1-winner Awakened leads field for rescheduled G1 Beverly R. Steinman

by Mary Eddy

Hall of Fame trainer Jack Fisher has entered a trio of contenders, led by Grade 1-winner and highweight Awakened, in Thursday’s rescheduled inaugural running of the Grade 1, $150,000 Beverly R. Steinman, a 2 3/8-mile handicap for older steeplechasers, at Belmont at the Big A.

The Steinman was originally slated for June 9 on the final day of the Belmont Stakes Racing Festival at Saratoga Race Course, but was rescheduled to Thursday at Aqueduct Racetrack after strong rains forced the cancellation of turf racing that day.

The race is named for Beverly R. “Peggy” Steinman, who has successfully balanced decades of ownership in both the steeplechase and flat racing worlds with stars such as Dark Equation, who captured the 2008 Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup, and Colstar, a multiple graded stakes-winning filly who won more than $1 million on the flat.

The most significant change from Sunday’s initial field was the withdrawal of the formidable highweight Abaan. With his defection, the new highweight is Riverdee Stable and Ten Strike Racing’s Awakened [Sean Flanagan, 158 pounds].

Awakened seeks his first victory since taking the Grade 1 Jonathan Sheppard in August at Saratoga. The Curlin gelding has since placed in two other graded events and was third in the Grade 2 Temple Gwathmey Handicap in April at Middleburg ahead of a fourth last out in the 2 1/8-mile Grade 1 Commonwealth Cup over good footing on May 4 at Great Meadow.

“He’s doing very well and he’s a very easy horse to train,” said Sean Clancy of Riverdee Stable. “He’s got a lovely, easy way of going. I was pleased with [the Temple Gwathmey] and then we ran him back in the Commonwealth Cup and it rained. I didn’t think it would get that soft, but it did. I kind of wish I didn’t run him there, but I’m hoping that was just soft ground. He’s a real light mover and efficient, so sometimes those kind of horses on soft ground can get kind of stuck.”

The regally-bred Awakened is out of the multiple graded stakes-winning A.P. Indy mare Daydreaming, making him a half-brother to multiple graded stakes-winning millionaire Imagining. Awakened began his career for owner/breeder Phipps Stable and Hall of Fame conditioner Shug McGaughey, later moving to the care of Reeve McGaughey. He graduated at 10th asking on the flat with a rallying win in a 10-furlong turf maiden in July 2021 at Ellis Park before being purchased privately by Sean and Anne Clancy’s Riverdee Stable.

Clancy said he had been eyeing the athletic chestnut since the early days of his career.

“I was following him and then he won at Ellis and I kept saying, ‘That’s a jumper,’” said Clancy. “Then Shug called me and said they’d sell him, and he just had some bone bruising. He just needed time, which was fine with me. We turned him out and he lived out [in a paddock] from August to January and has gone right on. I respect Phipps and their approach for not dropping this horse down [in claiming] and letting him go on to do something else.”

Awakened reached his full potential last summer at Saratoga when taking the 2 3/8-mile Grade 1 Jonathan Sheppard Handicap by one length to give Riverdee Stable its first Grade 1 victory. The win was especially meaningful for Clancy, who, along with his brother Joe, owns and operates S.T. Publishing, parent company of the Saratoga Special newspaper.

“That was some thrill to do it there,” said Clancy, a multiple Grade 1-winning retired steeplechase jockey. “The amount of Grade 1s that I’ve watched at Saratoga with a tape recorder tucked under my elbow, trying to get quotes and watching everybody else win Grade 1s – it was really special to do it there with everyone there. It was brilliant. He’s the overachieving horse to see him going from standing out in a field for six months to winning a Grade 1.”

Fisher and Riverdee Stable will also send out Grade 2-placed Gordon’s Jet [Bernard Dalton, 146 pounds] as he seeks a fair chance at proving his talents after losing his rider early in his last two outings, including the aforementioned Commonwealth Cup. The Jet Away chestnut was a close second in the Grade 2 David Semmes Memorial Handicap going 2 1/8 miles last May at Great Meadow. He looks to add to a 3 1/2-length handicap win last April at Tryon in his first American outing.

“He’s had kind of a stop-start season, even going back to last year,” said Clancy. “We had to scratch him earlier this spring and he was actually was running pretty well at the Commonwealth Cup and was going better than Awakened, but I think he would have probably been third or fourth. I thought it was worth trying him again and to give him a chance. If it doesn’t work, we can [turn] him out for the summer and have a horse for the fall.”

Fisher’s third entry is Bruton Street-US’s Ziggle Pops [Graham Watters, 148 pounds], a 7-year-old Zoffany gelding who was a romping 10 1/2-length winner last out in a 2 3/4-mile handicap on May 24 at Percy Warner. He made his first 11 outings in his native England for conditioner Richard Hannon, but found his best stride in 2021 when moving stateside with Fisher to graduate by 6 3/4 lengths at second asking over the hurdles at Camden. He makes his stakes debut in his third start this season.

Leipers Fork Steeplechasers’ Rampoldi Plan [Jamie Bargary, 154 pounds] looks to double up on Grade 1 conquests after a last-out victory in the Commonwealth Cup. Trained by Leslie Young, the Florida-bred son of Hard Spun has two pairs of wins and runner-up efforts from six American outings, including an 8 1/4-length romp to graduate last May.

Trainer Keri Brion sends out a strong pair in Upland Flats Racing’s Grade 1-placed Freddy Flintshire [152 pounds, Stephen Mulqueen] and Madaket Stables, Molly Willis and Paul Willis’ Jimmy P [Parker Hendriks, 152 pounds].

Freddy Flintshire returns from a nearly 11-month respite after a deep-closing third-place effort in the Grade 1 A.P. Smithwick traveling 2 1/16 miles in July at the Spa. The 6-year-old Flintshire bay was 11 lengths behind through the first half-mile and steadily made up ground throughout under Parker Hendriks to land 9 1/2 lengths back of the victorious Belfast Banter.

“He made up a ton of ground, and I think if we could do it over, we would have sat him closer,” said Brion. “He did the most of anybody in the race and the winner got the jump on him. That was a huge effort stepping up into Grade 1 company.”

Freddy Flintshire, who has hit the board in each of his eight efforts over jumps, also boasts a win at this distance when posting a 14 1/2-length romp in the Queen’s Cup MPC Chase last April at Charlotte off a seven-month respite.

Brion will also saddle Grade 1-placed Jimmy P, whose lone start this year was a distant off-the-board finish in the three-mile Grade 1 Iroquois on May 11 at Percy Warner off a seven-month layoff.

“This is his preferred distance, and I would draw a line through his last race,” said Brion. “It was three miles off the layoff and a different kind of course – it was not his cup of tea.”

Jimmy P posted two strong efforts at longer distances last year when taking a 2 3/4-mile handicap event in May at Percy Warner ahead of a brave runner-up effort at this distance in the Grade 1 Jonathan Sheppard Handicap one length back of Awakened.

Hudson River Farms’ dual Grade 1-placed L’Imperator [Jordan Gainford, 152 pounds], a Grade 2-winner on the flat, seeks his first hurdle stakes victory on the back of a third-place effort behind Rampoldi Plan in the Commonwealth Cup. Trained by Arch Kingsley, Jr, the 7-year-old Holy Roman Emperor gelding has hit the board in his last four starts, including a close second to Merry Maker in the 2 1/2-mile Grade 1 Lonesome Glory Handicap in September here.

Completing the competitive field is Upland Flats Racing and John Lewis’ Grade 2-placed West Newton [Harrison Beswick, 152 pounds], who races with blinkers off for trainer Richard Hendriks.

The Beverly R. Steinman is slated at the first race on Thursday’s nine-race card. First post is 1:05 p.m. Eastern.

America’s Day at the Races will present daily coverage and analysis of the Belmont at the Big A spring/summer meet on the networks of FOX Sports. For the complete broadcast schedule, visit https://www.nyra.com/aqueduct/racing/tv-schedule.

NYRA Bets is the official wagering platform of Belmont at the Big A, and the best way to bet every race of the spring/summer meet. Available to horseplayers nationwide, the NYRA Bets app is available for download today on iOS and Android at www.NYRABets.com.

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