08/28/2005 11:00PM

Hirapour's rider back from injury


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Steeplechase rider Matt McCarron, who broke his left arm in a spill in the first race of the Saratoga meet, has made a quick recovery and will be back aboard his best mount, Hirapour, in Wednesday's Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap.

, last year's Eclipse Award-winning steeplechase horse, leads a field of nine as the 158-pound highweight in the premier steeplechase race of the meet. The Turf Writers Cup is the second race on the card and follows a steeplechase allowance race.

Hirapour finished third with Chip Miller aboard, beaten three lengths by Turf Writers Cup starter Paradise's Boss, in the Grade 2 A.P. Smithwick Memorial here Aug. 8, a race that McCarron found difficult to watch from the sidelines.

"It was very frustrating to watch him in the A.P. Smithwick," McCarron said. "I really wanted to be out there."

McCarron underwent surgery on his left arm two days after the opening-day spill in the hopes of making it back for the Turf Writers Cup. He had a plate and eight screws inserted in his arm, and tackled intensive physical therapy. McCarron returned in the first race last Wednesday, and he will ride both the opening race and Turf Writers Cup this Wednesday.

McCarron rode Hirapour, a 9-year-old Irish-bred trained by Doug Fout, in four starts dating back to the Breeders' Cup Steeplechase last October. While Hirapour ran second to McDynamo in the Breeders' Cup, he returned to defeat that rival and Sur La Tete in the Grade 1 Colonial Cup at Springdale Race Course in Camden, S.C., and again defeated those horses with a victory in the Grade 1 Royal Chase Handicap at Keeneland in April.

Fout used the A.P. Smithwick, run at 2 1/16 miles, as a prep race for Hirapour's start in the Turf Writers Cup at 2 3/8 miles. Several factors - the longer distance, pace scenario, and return of McCarron - should play in his favor.

"The longer distance is much more to his liking," McCarron said. "He has to come from out of it. Hopefully the pace scenario is fast enough that he can settle, which will help since my arm isn't 100 percent."

, a Grade 1 winner, enters the Turf Writers Cup on a three-race winning streak, capped off by an impressive victory in the A.P. Smithwick. Since moving from flat to steeplechase races last year, he has won 7 of 12 starts. Paradise's Boss, a 5-year-old trained by Jack Fisher, is expected to be on the front end and should find company there with Party Airs and Mauritania.

, a 10-year-old trained by Sanna Hendriks, won the Turf Writers Cup in 2003, but has won only once in seven starts since. Three of those starts were in flat races this year, and he could be rounding back into top form Wednesday.