08/04/2008 11:00PM

Guelph taking on the boys in Smithwick


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Last year at Saratoga, the mare Footlights upset the boys in the Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase. Trainer Tom Voss hopes another filly can beat the boys in Thursday's Grade 2, $80,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase, which serves as the prep for the Turf Writers later in the meet.

Voss will send out the 7-year-old mare Guelph against the 4-year-old filly Class Shadow and eight males in the Smithwick, run over nine National fences at 2 1/16 miles on Saratoga's inner turf course.

Guelph has won both of her starts this year in gate-to-wire fashion, and Voss said she will take this field as far as she can on the front end under Padge Whelan.

"I think she's got a lot of speed, she's a beautiful jumper, and I think it's worth taking a shot for $80,000," Voss said. "She's fit. When you get back to the filly-and-mare division you carry a lot of weight."

Voss noted that Class Shadow, a filly Guelph twice beat this year, finished second in a stakes against the boys at Colonial in her last start and "this race isn't a whole lot better," Voss added.

Among the males entered in the Smithwick is the 9-year-old Mixed Up, who won this race last year and who won the Turf Writers in 2006. Mixed Up is the 158-pound highweight and has run two subpar efforts this year. Trainer Jonathan Sheppard said he would wait until Thursday before deciding whether to run.

Doug Fout, who won this race in 2006 with Hirapour, has the uncoupled entry of High Action and Dark Equation for the Smithwick. High Action came back off a two-year layoff to win an allowance steeplechase on June 15. He has since undergone minor throat surgery, Fout said. He finished third behind Dark Equation in a flat-race exhibition here on July 20.

"He's coming up to the race great," Fout said. "As long as we don't get any rain, the ground stays firm, we're going to be really tough. The only thing that might hurt him is the lack of experience running over our fences."

Fout said he had to do a more serious throat operation on Dark Equation after he finished sixth in the Marcellus Frost Stakes on May 10. Fout said he cranked him up for the July 20 race.

"He won pretty easy," Fout said. "It is a big step for him, but he's training great. He's high on himself right now. I think he'll put on a real good show."