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Iroquois Steeplechase – 2017


By Nancy Brannon, Ph.D.; photos by Tommy & Nancy Brannon

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Scorpiancer wins the 76th running of the Iroquois Steeplechase, easily besting the field of 6 by 16 lengths before a crowd of 25,000 at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tenn. Hinterland came on strong late against the deflated field and finished second. Andi’Amu was third and Martini Brother fourth. Ross Geraghty rode Andi’Amu, substituting for Paddy Young, who had a fall in an earlier race and was out for the remainder of the day’s races.

Jockey Sean McDermott told the press after the race: “He’s not the fastest horse, but he has an abundance of stamina. He's more of a marathon runner than he is a sprinter, and this race suits him perfectly. I’m very, very happy.” Scorpiancer finished fourth in the 2016 Iroquois.

Scorpiancer (IRE) is the 8-year-old son of Scorpion, who is owned by Bruton Street-US. He won the Grade I Lonesome Glory Stakes at Belmont Park (N.Y.) in September 2016 and the Grade 3Temple Gwathmey Hurdle Handicap at Middleburg, Virginia in April 2017. Scorpiancer is trained by Jack O. Fisher and ridden by Sean McDermott. Hinterland is also trained by Jack Fisher. Fisher’s other horse, Mr. Hot Stuff, dropped out of the race.

“He improved all fall and then this spring he was better,” trainer Jack Fisher told the press after the race. “The race did not really go the way I expected it to. We thought Martini Brother would be the leader so we sent Scorpiancer to force the pace. When I saw Dawalan miss that fence back there, I thought, ‘That's good.’”

Dawalan stumbled at the 11th fence and was not able to get back into the lead pack. He later dropped out and did not finish the race. Dawalan was the 2015 Eclipse Award winner, presented annually to recognize Thoroughbred horses and individuals whose achievements have earned them the title of Champion in their respective categories, but he missed the 2016 season with a tendon injury.

Billed as “Nashville’s Rite of Spring since 1941,” the second Saturday in May at Percy Warner Park is earmarked for its social aspects as well as the main equestrian event. The Stick Horse Races are a thrill for the little ones, the annual nFocus hat contest contestants rival each other, and the Kentucky Derby, for top chapeau honors. The infield is the choice spot for tailgating parties, and hillside spots offer choice views of the races for picnickers. Saturday’s sunshine are mild temperatures were ideal conditions for this annual outdoor activity, and good conditions for the racehorses.

Other races of the day:

The Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Grade 1) is the seventh and last race of a full day of steeplechasing. The day’s races begin with a flat race, the $50,000 Green Pastures Hurdle. This year’s winner was Moscato, a 6-year-old grey gelding owned by Bruton Street-US, trained by Jack Fisher and ridden by Sean McDermott.

Second race of the day is the $35,000 Bright Hour Hurdle for four-year-olds and up rated 125 or lower. This year’s winner was Plated, an 8-year-old brown gelding owned by Magalen O. Bryant, trained by Jimmy Day, and ridden by Brendan Crowley.

Third race of the day was the $100,000 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle, the second-richest race on Saturday. Wendy Hendriks’ Surprising Soul, trained by Ricky Hendriks and ridden by Ross Geraghty, was running second to Show Court, but took the lead on the final turn and held the lead over a challenge by My Afleet to capture the win 2 ¼ lengths ahead. DASH Stable’s Ice It, Sean McDermott aboard, finished third, five lengths farther back, and Tennessee horsewoman Gil Johnston’s Miguel Grau was fourth, while Show Court tired to finish fifth.

Fourth race of the day was the Margaret Currey Henley Filly and Mare Hurdle Stakes. The Fields Stables’ Sarah Joyce, trained by Elizabeth H. Voss and ridden by Jack Doyle, continued her winning streak with a 3 ¼ length win over challenger Cibourne. Last year’s winner, One Lucky Lady, set the pace early on, before acquiescing to Admiring Glance, but resuming the lead over Admiring Glance in the stretch.  Ciboure, ridden by Gerard Galligan, took the lead at the final fence, but jockey Jack Doyle moved Sarah Joyce ahead in the run to the wire, leaving Ciboure in second.

Fifth race of the day was the $40,000 George Sloan & John Sloan Sr. Sport of Kings Maiden Hurdle. Again, Jack Fisher-trained horses were the top two. Kremlin, the 5-year-old chestnut gelding, led the pack for the entire race to claim victory for Rather Be Racing stables in 5 ¼ lengths. Dark Gemini, owned by Serendipity Stable, finished second under jockey Willie McCarthy.

The only timber race, The $50,000 Mason Houghland Memorial, is the sixth race of the day. Cornhusker, ridden by Mark Beecher, moved to the lead on the final circuit, opening a sizable lead on his opponents, and cruised to a 2 ½ length victory for Armata Stables and trainer Alicia Murphy. Cornhusker, a veteran of the timber race, won it in 2014 and 2015. He won the Middleburg Hunt Cup on April 22, 2017 and was second in the Winterthur Bowl just six days before the Iroquois race.

Henry San, ridden by Darren Nagle, took an early lead in the race and maintained his lead throughout most of the race. But a jumping mishap set Henry San back, allowing Cornhusker to take the lead with less than a mile to go in the race. Over the last fence before the finish, Cornhusker had at least a couple lengths’ lead over Syros, with Henry San in third but many lengths behind. Worried Man finished fourth.

Race results:
Green Pastures Hurdle:1. Moscato, 2. Lyonell, 3. Strong Box, 4. Personal Start
Bright Hour Hurdle:1. Plated, 2. All The Way Jose, 3. Classical Art, 4. Perfect Union
Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle: 1. Surprising Soul, 2. My Afleet, 3. Ice It, 4. Miguel Grau
Margaret Currey Henly Hurdle: 1. Sarah Joyce, 2. Ciboure, 3. One Lucky Lady, 4. Amnicalola
George Sloan & John Sloan Sr. Hurdle: 1. Kremlin, 2. Dark Gemini, 3. No Wunder, 4. Show King
Mason Houghland Memorial Timber:1. Cornhusker, 2. Syros, 3. Henry San, 4. Worried Man
Calvin Houghland Iroquois: 1. Scorpiancer, 2. Hinterland, 3. Andi’Amu, 4. Martini Brother
Find full results of this year’s Iroquois races at: Read more details about the race at:

The 77th Iroquois Steeplechase will be May 12, 2018. Find more information at:

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