08/21/2012 1:17PM

Saratoga: Extra distance a plus for Left Unsaid in New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase Handicap

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Barbara D. Livingston
Left Unsaid trains Tuesday at Saratoga for a start in Thursday's New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase Handicap.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y – There’s nothing more frustrating than losing a Grade 1 race by a nose. Except maybe losing a Grade 1 race by a nose with a horse who’d been away from the races nearly 15 months and had just run 2 1/16 miles and jumped nine hurdles only to come up inches short of victory.

Such was the case earlier this month when trainer Thomas Voss sent out the talented but injury-prone Left Unsaid to finish second, a nose behind Spy in the Sky, in the A.P. Smithwick Memorial at Saratoga. Those two, as well as four others from the Smithwick, will square off again Thursday, this time at 2 3/8 miles, in the $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Steeplechase Handicap, the premier jump race of the Saratoga steeplechase season.

Left Unsaid has had a habit of coming off long layoffs and losing close decisions. In his previous start ,in May 2011, Left Unsaid was beaten a length in the Grade 2 Marcellus Frost. One year earlier, he also was defeated a nose in the National Hunt Cup following a seven-month hiatus. Voss said a nagging suspensory injury has been the reason for the gaps in his form.

“You never know what to expect first time out after a year and a half, but he’s a really good horse,” Voss said. “He really should never been beaten the other day. He got hung out and bumped pretty well. I think the extra distance will improve him on Thursday. The farther he goes, the better he likes it. He’s got a pretty good kick when he gets rolling, and he jumps really well. This is pretty much the same group we ran against last time, and they are pretty evenly matched. If you ran them 10 times, you’d probably get a different winner every time.”

Left Unsaid is one of two horses Voss will start in the New York Turf Writers, along with Dynaski.

Spy in the Sky rallied from midpack with a seven-wide run off the final turn to upset the Smithwick at odds of 25-1. He will try to earn his second victory in the New York Turf Writers, having captured the race in 2009. Spy in the Sky is owned by Randleston Farm and trained by James Day.

Jonathan Sheppard, who has won the New York Turf Writers an unprecedented 13 times, entered three horses this year, but will start only two – Divine Fortune and Nationbuilder. Sermon of Love will run only if one of those two cannot participate.

Divine Fortune finished fifth, beaten just 3 1/2 lengths, as the 3-2 favorite in the Smithwick, a race he had won the previous two years. Divine Fortune had missed several days of training prior to the Smithwick due to a minor injury.

“He kind of got trapped down inside horses, which he doesn’t like, and the rider said he never had a chance to get him out in his last race, and missing a few days of training like that didn’t help,” Sheppard said. “This is a very competitive group, and it should again come down to who gets the trip, just like it did the last time. These horses put on a really good show in the Smithwick, and I hope they can do it again on Thursday. I think these types of races are a really nice change of pace for the people up here from the regular daily fare.”