10/16/2009 11:00PM

Irish import wins Grand National Steeplechase


FAR HILLS, N.J. - Irish import Your Sum Man, making his first American start, upset the $250,000 Grand National hurdle stakes at the Far Hills races Saturday - further clouding an already murky steeplechase championship picture.

Owned by The Fields Stable - of locals Betty and Laddie Merck - the winner relished the yielding turf and took control in the final stages to win by 3 3/4 lengths over fellow Irish-bred General Ledger with Tax Ruling third.

Ridden by Ross Geraghty, the 7-year-old son of Pistolet Bleu covered the 2 5/8 miles in 5:39.80.

As expected, Red Letter Day set the early pace but faced pressure throughout from General Ledger, winner of the Swedish Grand National in June. Pre-race favorite Pierrot Lunaire dropped back to last in the field of 12, moved into contention briefly but faded late and was not a factor.

Trainer Tom Voss purchased the winner, 1 for 9 over jumps in his career, on a trip to Ireland in June based on potential.

"I just loved the horse to look at," the trainer said. "He made you think he could do it - beautiful eye, nice type, nothing special but something was there. When we got him here, he did everything right and took to our fences very quickly."

The horse finished third behind classy turf stakes horses Always First and Wheels Up At Noon in a training flat race at the Morven Park (Va.) meet a week earlier - which gave Voss confidence.

"We ran him there just to get a line on him and he ran great," Voss said. "He got blocked a little bit and would have won if he could have gotten out from behind horses. After that, it was like he said 'here I am, let's go to Far Hills.' "

Your Sum Man is the fifth horse to win a Grade 1 steeplechase this year, leaving the Eclipse Award up for grabs heading to the $100,000 Colonial Cup Nov. 21 at Camden, S.C.

Voss won two other races on the day - the $100,000 Foxbrook Novice with Left Unsaid and the $50,000 Appleton with Dictina's Boy.

Wagering canceled

In a decision made late Friday, pari-mutuel wagering was not permitted on the Far Hills card due to issues with the New Jersey Racing Commission and the state's pari-mutuel regulations.