06/16/2010 12:00AM

Jump racing returns to Penn National


In response to positive fan reaction last year, Penn National will present two cards this season that contain steeplechase events.

Friday night's first two races on a nine-race card that begins at 6:30 p.m. Eastern will be contested at 2 1/16 miles over hurdles. Bill Gallo, racing secretary for the National Steeplechase Association, also has scheduled steeplechase races at Penn National for

July 2.

Race 1 on Friday, a maiden special weight that carries a $25,000 purse, includes the jump debut of Salinja, an 8-year-old who will be making his first start since winning the $85,000 West Virginia Speaker's Cup at Mountaineer nearly two years ago. On the flat, Salinja won 6 of 35 starts and $335,359 while trained by Graham Motion. His new trainer is Sanna Hendriks.

The 12-horse field also includes Parker's Project, a 4-year-old Jonathan Sheppard trainee who has been second or third in 5 of 6 races over hurdles.

Nine horses are entered in the second race, a first-level optional $25,000 claimer with a purse of $30,000. The group includes Hope for Us All, the National Steeplechase Association's 2009 champion 3-year-old on the basis of his win in the Gladstone Stakes at Far Hills, N.J., last October. A 4-year-old from the barn of champion steeplechase trainer Jack Fisher, Hope for Us All is 0 for 3 this year, including a fourth at this same level on June 4 at Philadlephia Park.

Three other logical contenders are Call You in Ten, who won the George Sloan and John Sloan Sr. Sport of Kings maiden hurdle by three lengths at the Iroquois Races in Nashville, Tenn., on May 8; Easy Red, an 8-year-old who is the 152-pound highweight after finishing second in the $25,000 Tanglewood Cup at Clemmons, N.C., on May 8 and second in the June 4 race ahead of Hope for Us All at Philly Park; and So Amazing, runner-up in each of his last two races against similar competition at Malvern, Pa., and Great Meadow, Va.