Jonathan Sheppard H. (G1) — Race 1 (1:05 p.m. ET)
After taking a detour back to the flat late last month, Snap Decision returns to hurdling Wednesday at Saratoga for the meet’s premier jump test, the $150,000 Jonathan Sheppard H. (G1) over 2 3/8 miles.
Second best in the division last season to champion mare The Mean Queen, Snap Decision finished second in his title defense of the Temple Gwathmey (G2) in his season debut, and then routed the opposition by 7 1/4 lengths when taking May 14 Iroquois (G1) in Nashville for the second straight year.
Trained by Jack Fisher, the eight-year-old prepped for the Sheppard in the 1 1/2-mile Colonial Cup at Colonial Downs on July 27. Snap Decision was a commendable third after tracking a slow pace, missing by 1 1/2 lengths.
“He was third and got boxed in on the turn at Colonial. He ran great,” Fisher said. “There was one horse in there that was a bear (Cellist) but that horse didn’t show up.”
Fisher said if Snap Decision does not compete Wednesday, he would use the Aug. 24 John’s Call S. over 1 5/8 miles on the flat as a prep for the Sept. 15 Lonesome Glory (G1) at Aqueduct.
Down Royal, a gray mare, won the A.P. Smithwick Memorial (G1) by a neck from Chief Justice. Farther up the track after taking the lead earlier in the Smithwick was Redicean, runner-up in this event in 2020 when it was run as the New York Turf Writers Cup.
Belfast Banter, a past winner and the prestigious Cheltenham and Aintree Festivals, was a far distant second to Redicean when last seen in a Grade 2 in May, while multiple stakes winner Song for Someone was unplaced twice earlier this season in England.
Trainer Keri Brion is represented by Historic Heart, fourth in the Smithwick, and Going Country, who steps up in class following a third-place effort in the Jonathan Kiser Novice S.