Moscato Aims for Sweet Win in A. P. Smithwick

Optimus Prime (#2) | Sarah Andrew

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The spring steeplechase season was compressed by the coronavirus pandemic into 21 races at two June race meets, but it had some sweet moments.

Perhaps none was as satisfying as the GIII Temple Gwathmey Steeplechase H. victory by Bruton Street-US's Moscato (GB) (Hernando {Fr}), named after the sweet Italian wine. Moscato will have an opportunity to make his season even sweeter in Saratoga Race Course's GI A. P. Smithwick Memorial Steeplechase H. Thursday.

Second in the weights to Rosbrian Farm's Optimus Prime (Fr) (Deportivo {Fr}), 9-year-old Moscato very likely will be favored in the 2 1/16-mile Smithwick off his 11-length victory in the Temple Gwathmey June 13.

The victory was everything that was expected of Moscato since his arrival in leading trainer Jack Fisher's barn in early 2017. Bred by Kirsten Rausing and formerly trained by Oliver Sherwood, Moscato bolted through the novice division with three New York stakes victories and was American jump racing's leading earner going into the fall season.

Fisher and the Bruton Street partners-Maryland neighbors Charles Fenwick Jr., Mike Hankin, and Charles Noell entered Moscato for the GI Grand National, but he was scratched on the eve of the Far Hills, N.J., race with an injury that kept him off the racecourse for all of 2018.

He won his comeback race, the 2019 Temple Gwathmey, but did not return to the winner's circle until his repeat victory last month.

In between, he was unplaced only once, an eighth-place finish in Belmont Park's GI Lonesome Glory H. behind Wendy Hendriks' Surprising Soul (Perfect Soul {Ire}), the likely pacesetter in Thursday's Smithwick.

Bruton Street also entered Pravalaguna (Fr) (Great Pretender {Ire}), a front-running mare formerly trained by Willie Mullins. Shipped in for last fall's Far Hills meet, she demolished an overmatched group of fillies and mares in the Peapack S.

The 8-year-old has not started since the Peapack. Fisher also entered Riverdee Stable's Gibralfaro (Ire) (Dalakhani {Ire}), who found a sweet spot in the International Gold Cup's GII David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial Hurdle S. last October.

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