Makari left Elizabeth Voss guessing for a few minutes before she was able to celebrate her first graded-stakes win.
Having taken over training duties after her father, Thomas Voss, died in January, Elizabeth Voss notched a Grade I steeplechase victory Thursday as Makari got a nose in front of Demonstrative at the wire to win the A.P. Smithwick Memorial, a race Thomas Voss won in 1997 and 2003.
“It’s exciting to have it [first graded win] be in Saratoga, a place I love so much,” Elizabeth Voss said. “I can’t take much credit for this horse; we’ve only had him for two weeks. My husband picked him out for his owners. He got off the plane, and he seemed pretty straightforward. We took a chance, and it worked out.”
Makari sat off the pace set by Pleasant Woodman through most of the 2 1⁄16-mile race, then kicked in along the rail around the final turn. Demonstrative was first to get past Pleasant Woodman, but Makari came on under jockey Jack Doyle and engaged Demonstrative in a stretch duel that came down to the final headbob.
“I thought, actually, we missed the bob this week,” Voss said. “I thought maybe we got it last week, and missed it this time.”
It was Doyle’s first Grade I win, as well, and first win of any kind in the United States.
“We had a perfect way around,” he said. “He traveled like a dream the whole way, never missed a beat. I actually didn’t think I got there. It was brilliant.”
Makari paid $11.60, $9.50 and $13.60 in the win. Demonstrative returned $17.00 and $18.00. Pleasant Woodman held on for third, paying $22.40 to show, despite the late effort of All Together, who was fourth. Jonathan Sheppard had a three-horse entry, headed by two-time winner Divine Fortune, but none hit the board.
Divine Fortune, an 11-year-old gelding, won ther Smithwick in 2010 and 2011. He left the course before the final jump and finished last. Spy in the Sky, now a 10-year-old gelding, won the 2012 running for trainer James Day, but was seventh Thursday.
Voss said the Grade I New York Turf Writers Cup on Aug. 21 is a possible next start for Makari.
“We’ll see how he comes out of it in the next couple days, and we’ll make a plan then,” she said.
Wise Dan, two-time Horse of the Year and two-time winner of the Fourstardave, will skip the Aug. 9 renewal of that race, instead waiting for the Grade II Bernard Baruch on Aug. 30, the Woodbine Mile or the Shadwell Turf Mile.
Wise Dan had colic surgery 10 weeks ago, and since has worked two four-furlong breezes and once over five furlongs. Poor weather had interfered with his training schedule, said trainer Charles LoPresti, which made it tougher to get him into race shape before the Fourstardave.
“That’s a lot to ask of a horse who had his belly opened up about 10 weeks ago, and to start out in competition like he’s going to have to run in,” LoPresti said of the reduced training schedule. “He’s not where I want him. He’s not dragging his rider around there like I know he can. He’s just not all there, but I’ve got a sneaking suspicion here, before long, over the next few weeks, we’re going to see him where I want him to be.”
It was wishful thinking to begin with, LoPresti said, but he wanted to bring Wise Dan up to Saratoga and try.
“My ultimate goal is to get him to the Breeders’ Cup,” he said. “I want to do right by him. I would love to run him in the Fourstardave, and I’m disappointed that we’re not going to, but this is the hand we’ve been dealt and I have to do right by the horse. I think this is the best thing for him.”
Despite missing the Fourstardave, LoPresti said Wise Dan is coming back into form at a good pace.
“I think he’s made great progress,” he said. “If I had two more weeks, probably I would run him in the Fourstardave. But I don’t have two more weeks.”
At 27-1, Sinistra was the longest shot on the board for the Evan Shipman, but that didn’t both the 4-year-old gelding or jockey Rosie Napravnik, who won the 11⁄8-mile race through the mud by a head over Big Business.
“We sat pretty close to the pace,” Napravnik said. “I think he’s that type of horse where he doesn’t have a huge kick, but he’ll keep grinding away, and he was sticking his neck out.”
Sinistra is now 4-6-3 from 22 career starts. He lost his previous stakes try in the King’s Point at Aqueduct by a head, and he has two neck losses in the last eight months.
“We’ve gotten beat a few times late,” winning trainer Karl Grusmark said. “But I thought from the sixteenth-pole that we were in really, really good shape.”
Escapefromreality went to the front at the start with Big Business in tow. Napravnik kept Sinistra just behind them until the far turn.
Big Business came outside of Escapefromreality, Sinistra had to come wide of that pair, and rallying from farther back, Awesome Vision made a bid outside of all three. Awesome Vision, however, swung far too wide out of the turn to offer a threat down the stretch.
Sinistra got the run he needed to pay $56.00 to win, $15.60 to place and $6.60 to show. Big Business finished paid $4.30 and $2.70 while finishing a neck in front of Escapefromreality, who returned $3.50 to show. Another length and a quarter back, Awesome Vision was fourth.
EYE ON ‘BISHOP’
After finishing third in the Haskell on Sunday, Wildcat Red is pointing toward the Grade I King’s Bishop on Aug. 23, though trainer Jose Garoffalo will also nominate him to the Grade I $1.25 million Travers.
“I want to look and see what horses are going to the race,” he said. “It looks like it’s going to be a very tough group of horses, and the Travers is going to be even tougher. But he’s doing good, so we are going to head up there and see.”
He could be comfortable in either the seven-furlong King’s Bishop or the 1 1⁄4-mile Travers. Wildcat Red won the seven-furlong Grade III Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park. He also won the 1 1⁄16-mile Grade II Fountain of Youth and was second by a neck in the 1 1⁄8-mile Grade I Florida Derby.