By Tod Marks
Showing tactical speed and stamina under handicap conditions, Snap Decision of Bruton Street-US won the $150,000 stakes from Grade 1 Jonathan Sheppard in Saratoga on Wednesday, carrying the most weight to victory in over of a generation.
Not only did the Kentucky-raised son of Hard Spun land his second G1 of the season, he did it with an exclamation mark. Totaling 164 pounds – the most since Lonesome Glory scored under a 166-pound tax in 1995 – Snap Decision, trained by Hall of Famer Jack Fisher, took command of the 2 3/8 mile contest shortly after the start, and never looked back, shooting from 13 1/4 lengths. This tactic showed the versatility of the eight-year-old’s game, as the gelding usually mounts his load against the tide. The victory was all the more impressive considering that Snap Decision gave 11 to 24 pounds to its six rivals.
Saratoga fans realized they were witnessing something special, cheering loudly as jockey Graham Watters got up on the favorite and waved to the crowd halfway through. For Watters, the National Steeplechase Association champion jockey last year, it was remarkably his first victory in Saratoga.
The race started with CJ Irv Naylor, ridden by Barry Foley, taking the lead from the back. But it didn’t take long for Snap Decision to expand four wide and take matters into their own hands. The Chief Justice was seated in second position, with the rest of the pack in pursuit. Throughout the two loops of the course, there was little change in position among the runners. Approaching the final corner, Snap Decision increased their advantage to 10 lengths as the head judge was weary and Going Country rallied under Danny Mullins, who traveled from Europe for the mount, to get up for second place. Redicean, the longest shot from the field at 26-1, finished third. The last time of the race was 4:32.88. Belfast Banter, Song for Someone, Down Royal and Chief Justice completed the order of arrival. Historic Heart has been scratched.
The Sheppard was the fourth trip to the post for Snap Decision in 2022. After finishing second in its seasonal arc at Middleburg, Snap Decision was ready for a big push and delivered in the G1 Iroquois in Nashville in May, by more than seven lengths . . He prepared for the Sheppard with a sharp third in the Colonial Cup, a flat-turf stake at Colonial Downs in Virginia in late July. The victory raised Snap Decision’s career record to 35-13-7-7 with earnings of $822,334.
The story of Snap Decision’s rise has become familiar. Bred by the Phipps family and trained by Shug McGaughey, Snap Decision was stake-graded on the flat before his show jumping career. He made his hurdles debut in 2019 and has won nine straight in two seasons.
After the victory, Fisher told the NYRA press office that his star will likely turn his attention to the G1 Lonesome Glory, also a handicap, at Aqueduct on Sept. 15.
The race replay can be viewed here: https://www.nyra.com/saratoga/racing/replays
Full results can be found here: https://nationalsteeplechase.com/racing/