SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.--Steeplechasing's summer schedule begins Monday, July 19, at Colonial Downs with two jump races and continues at Saratoga with the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on Wednesday, July 21 and the G1 A.P. Smithwick on Thursday, July 22.
Colonial Downs kicks off with two $30,000 Maiden races, the first, at 12:15, for fillies and mares, with six entries, and the second with 10 entries.
The Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes is the opening race on Wednesday at The Spa, with post time at 1:05.
The A.P. Smithwick, the 24th running of the 2 1/16-mile test for 4-year-olds and up, is the opening race on Thursday at 1:05 p.m.
Saratoga Live will present daily television coverage of the 40-day summer meet on FOX Sports.
Hall of Fame trainer Jack Fisher will saddle Gibralfaro and Cite for a strong entry in Thursday's Grade 1, $150,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial at Saratoga Race Course.
Trainer Keri Brion will also send aa very strong entry of three to the post, including Irvin Naylor’s French Light, in at 144 pounds and ridden by Richard Condon, Buttonwood Farm’s Baltimore Bucko, in at 142 pounds and ridden by Thomas Garner, and Hudson River Farms’ Galway Kid, in at 148 pounds and ridden by Bernard Dalton.
FRENCH LIGHT won an allowance race at Saratoga last year when he was trained by Jonathan Sheppard.
Brion took over a number of Sheppard's string when he retired last winter.
Baltimore Bucko most recently finished second by a nose in the Green Pastures Hurdle Stakes at Iroquois, while Galway Bay won the G3 David Semmes Memorial Stakes at Great Meadow in May and was second in the Jonathan Kiser last year.
For Fisher, Riverdee Stable's multiple G1-placed Gibralfaro will make his third attempt in the race after finishing fourth in 2019 and third last year.
The 9-year-old Dalakhani bay has finished second in both starts this year, including last out in the G3 David Semmes Memorial to Galway Bay.
“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.”
"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.
Fisher said Cite, who won an allowance event on the Saratoga turf in 2019, will also look to wait 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 will ride Gibralfaro, while Jamie Bargary will be on Cite.
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 G1 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 be ridden by Gerard Galligan.
Also on Thursday, NYRA will honor service members and veterans with Military Appreciation Day at Saratoga Race Course.
The day will feature free grandstand admission for all United States military service members and veterans with valid military ID or proof of military service.
NYRA will welcome local service members and veterans to the winner's circle for the day’s third race, which will be named in their honor.
Additionally, service members from New York State Military Forces, including the New York Army National Guard, New York Air National Guard, New York Naval Militia and New York Guard, will be honored in the winner’s circle following the fifth race for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic.
NYRA will pay tribute to its own service member and veteran employees with a special ceremony in the winner's circle following the National Anthem, which will be performed by the local acapella group Racing City Chorus, at 12:30 p.m.
The Racing City Chorus will also greet guests upon arrival at the admissions gates and will perform trackside during the afternoon.