08/03/2010 1:03PM

Voss, Sheppard hold most cards in A.P. Smithwick


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – The first graded stakes race of the meet for the steeplechasers at Saratoga on Thursday finds the training juggernauts of Jonathan Sheppard and Tom Voss with, collectively, a full house, and a handful of others trying to top that formidable hand in the Grade 2, $75,000 A.P. Smithwick Memorial.

Sheppard will send out three runners, including The Price of Love and Divine Fortune, who race coupled in the wagering, and Arcadius, who races alone and has the best recent form of that trio. Voss has a pair, Planets Aligned and the likely favorite, Slip Away, whose front-running style makes him the one to beat at this abbreviated, 2 1/16-mile race that goes as the first on the card.

Slip Away was second and Arcadius third going three miles in the Grade 1 Iroquois Stakes in Nashville on May 8. Arcadius will be making his third start off the layoff. Sheppard is concerned that the Smithwick’s distance suits Slip Away far more than Arcadius.

“He’s more the staying type,” Sheppard said of Arcadius.

Slip Away is also making his third start of the year. He led from start to finish in the 2 1/2-mile Temple Gwathmey Handicap in his first start of the year before his runner-up finish in the Iroquois. He was fourth as the favorite in last year’s Smithwick, a race in which Planets Aligned finished third.

Plants Aligned has raced just once since last year’s Smithwick. He was fourth in the Marcellus Frost Stakes on the Iroquois undercard.

The Frost was won by the improving Dynantonia, who was a well-beaten third in the Temple Gwathmey before his victory in the Frost. He likes to race on or near the lead, and seems the horse most likely to press Slip Away early.

But Dynantonia may bypass the race. Julie Gomena, who trains Dynantonia, on Tuesday morning said she was likely to await the Grade 1 Turf Writers Handicap, going 2 3/8 miles, here on Aug. 26.

Dark Equation is seeking to recapture the form that in 2008 saw him finish second in the Smithwick before capturing the Turf Writers. Now age 9, Dark Equation is winless in six starts since the 2008 Turf Writers. He was a distant third last time out at Colonial in the Ferguson Memorial, in which Divine Fortune was fourth.

Dr. Bloomer, also age 9, finished second in the Ferguson while making his first start in more than 14 months.