07/25/2016 1:40PM

Steeplechase races to lose one fence


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Steeplechase races at this meet will have a new configuration that could impact your handicapping.

The midstretch fence will be removed for the final lap, meaning that the last three-eighths of a mile of these races will be contested like a flat race. In 2 1/16-mile races, horses will jump over eight fences instead of nine. At 2 3/8 miles, horses will jump over nine fences instead of 10.

The course configuration was changed on the recommendation of Scott Palmer, New York’s equine medical director, following last year’s Grade 1 New York Turf Writers Cup, where Divine Fortune fell over the final fence.

It might be advisable to look for horses with some sort of flat-racing form when handicapping these races. In Wednesday’s steeplechase allowance, Unsinkable is coming off a 6 1/4-length allowance win at Parx on July 12. She finished third in May in her last start over jumps.

Steeplechase races are scheduled for each Wednesday and Thursday. However, the $75,000 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes failed to fill for Thursday. Thus, there will be 10 flat races run at this meet.