07/25/2016 1:40PM

Steeplechase races to lose one fence

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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.

Laura More than 1 year ago
so because a beloved champion died from falling over the last fence down the stretch, they change it? haven't horse died from falling over fences at all points in  these races? perhaps we shouldn't have them at all, flat racing is dangerous enough, adding jumps just adds to that

how about we also ban the use of the whip in  these races, especially down the stretch, other than for safety or corrective measures? it's so upsetting, at the end of these miles-long races, to see horse who are *dead tired*, then be being whipped...how about hands, heels, and voice only? aren't most already doing their best?