The matchup everyone wanted will have to wait.
At Saratoga Race Course in August, Teodoro and Snap Decision won allowance hurdle races by 33 3/4 and 38 1/2 lengths respectively and were supposed to be in the same race Wednesday at Belmont Park. Alas, the steeplechase version of a science experiment (A+B=C) won’t happen as Teodoro will be scratched from the eight-horse field with a tendon injury. The $75,000 William Entenmann Memorial goes as scheduled and Wednesday’s first race (post time 3 p.m.) is still a fascinating tussle even if it’s a little like an old-school wrestling battle royal with Jimmy “Super Fly” Snuka but without Randy “Macho Man” Savage.
“It stinks when the good ones get hurt,” said Ricky Hendriks, who trains Teodoro for Rosbrian Farm. “It’s why you’ve got to enjoy the wins when you get them. He’s got a little tear in his tendon. He had an easy gallop at Fair Hill Sunday. Monday morning he had some filling. We got it scanned Tuesday and there’s a little tear there.”
The news stops the 5-year-old Irish-bred’s first hurdle season after two wins (by a combined 47 3/4 lengths) and a second in three starts. The son of Teofilo will aim for a return in 2020.
The defection leaves just one runaway Saratoga winner, Bruton Street-US runner Snap Decision, against a deep group of rivals. Trained by Jack Fisher, Snap Decision has won two of four jump starts (with two seconds) after winning twice on the flat for owner/breeder Phipps Stable and trainer Shug McGaughey. Willie McCarthy rides the 5-year-old son of Hard Spun, the morning-line favorite at 5-2 in the 2 1/4-mile test.
He will need to be on his game, as he gets a tougher assignment headed by classy 4-year-olds Chief Justice and Cracker Factory. The former, trained by Cyril Murphy for Irv Naylor, makes his second American start after a troubled fourth in the Marcellus Frost novice at the Iroquois in May. The English-bred son of Acclamation won five of 10, with three seconds, over hurdles while part of Gordon Elliott’s Irish stable. Graham Watters rides at 10-1. Watch the replay here for some research (just fast forward to the last three fences, Chief Justice is in the yellow cap).
One of three from the Fisher barn, Cracker Factory makes his U.S. debut after winning four of eight last year for English trainer Alan King. The English-bred son of Poet’s Voice defeated Chief Justice twice last year, but faltered in two tries this winter. The 8-1 shot is owned by Michael Lund Petersen, whose flat stable includes top 3-year-old Mucho Gusto.
Fisher’s third runner, Irish-bred City Dreamer, won the Frost with a late charge – getting past Help From Heaven, future Grade 1 winner Winston C and Chief Justice in the stretch to score by a neck. Riverdee Stable’s son of Casamento makes his first start since. He was fourth in the 2018 Entenmann, but should appreciate firmer ground and has improved. Sean McDermott takes the ride at 6-1.
Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Arch My Boy nearly pulled a mild upset in the Jonathan Kiser novice at Saratoga when second to Redicean and could move forward off that effort. The English-bred son of Archipenko won his only two hurdle starts in his native land, a maiden by 9 lengths and an allowance by 30. Kieran Norris rides at 5-1
Another English-bred, Sportswear, seeks his third win in as many tries over hurdles for KMSN Stable and trainer Jonathan Sheppard. The 4-year-old son of Frankel and English Oaks winner Casual Look ousted a green Teodoro at Middleburg in April, and won an allowance at the Iroquois. The 4-year-old missed an early start at Saratoga with a foot abscess. Gerard Galligan rides at 9-2.
Rosbrian and Hendriks will be represented by longshot Veneer Of Charm, an Irish-bred whose three U.S. starts over jumps have been double-digit defeats. On the flat this summer, he won at Delaware Park in July and was a decent seventh Sept. 2. Jack Doyle rides the 20-1 shot, who was good enough to win the 2018 Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival.
If you’re handicapping, pace will matter. Teodoro was a committed front-runner. The others are not. Veneer Of Charm might be pretty sharp off the flat runs, and Snap Decision will be prominent. Catching him in the long run-in won’t be easy. City Dreamer and Chief Justice came from well back at Nashville. They may need to be closer here, which will take away at least a bit of their kicks. Cracker Factory is legitimate, though an unknown and he’s bound to be a little rusty in his first start since March (in the 2019 Fred Winter).
From the for-what-it’s-worth department, English handicap marks: Chief Justice (142), Arch My Boy (142), Cracker Factory (135), City Dreamer (134), Veneer Of Charm (131).
And now the picks. We lost track of the season series so let’s start over (again).
Joe: Snap Decision, Chief Justice, City Dreamer.
Sean: Snap Decision, Chief Justice, City Dreamer.
Tom: Snap Decision, City Dreamer, Cracker Factory.
The Entenmann is the first of two days of jump racing at Belmont this week. Thursday’s card starts with the Grade 1 Lonesome Glory Handicap for open horses (also 3 p.m. post). The $150,000 race attracted dual Saratoga winner Winston C, who will tote 160 pounds against a field including 2017 steeplechase champion Scorpiancer (158), multiple novice stakes winner Moscato (148), Iroquois runner-up Surprising Soul (144), Saratoga novice winner Redicean (148), five-time English winner Bedrock (152), veteran Hinterland (142), veteran Grade 1 winner All The Way Jose (142) and the Grade 1-placed Belisarius (142). At 2 1/2 miles, the Lonesome Glory is the final jump prep for the $450,000 American Grand National at Far Hills next month.