By Tod Marks
Michael Smith’s Bandua, a graded stakes winner of $360,000 on the flat, broke his maiden over hurdles in his second try, taking today’s $40,000 special weights contest by two lengths over William Russell’s Seismic Wave.
With Jamie Bargary riding for trainer Neil Morris, Bandua sat off the pace in the tightly bunched field of nine for most of the 2 1/4 miles, as T and C Stables and JoAnne Morris’ Ahnaf, Holwood Stable’s Quality Choice, and Blythe Miller Davies’ Brave Deacon occupied the top three spots until entering the far turn the final time around.
With about a quarter mile to go, Bargary split horses and spurted off to a lead of about three lengths, and maintained that advantage with three-sixteenths to go. At that point, Bargary took a peak behind him as Seismic Wave, under Barry Foley, closed stoutly for second. Ashwell Stable’s Honor Up was third.
The win for Bandua, a seven-year-old Kentucky-bred son of The Factor, added a new accolade to his resume, which also includes a second in the Grade 2 2019 Fairgrounds Handicap, and a third – at 40-1 – in the 2018 Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes.
Jockey Jamie Bargary picked up his second and third victories of 2022 by taking both of today’s hurdle races at Colonial Downs in New Kent, Va.
After scoring in the opener by two lengths with Michael Smith’s Bandua, Bargary romped by 13 with Daniel Denefrio’s Fightinirishtabit in the $30,000 handicap for horses rated at 110 or less at 2 1/4 miles.
Bargary had Fightinirishtabit, a seven-year-old son of Tiznow trained by Ricky Hendriks, on the lead from the get-go in the field of four. And that field was rendered even smaller with Atlantic Friends Racing’s Peat Moss, with Parker Hendriks up, was a faller heading over the jump in front of the grandstand the first time around.
For much of the race, Fightinirishtabit was stalked closely by Shamrock & Thistle’s Make A Stand (Graham Watters), and the pair raced as a team up the backside the final time.
With a pair of jumps to go, QR Stables’ Criticize, ridden by Harrison Beswick, made his move inside of Fightinirishtabit, and looked like he might run away with the race.
But that’s when Fightinirishtabit showed he had plenty left in the tank, though it was still a dogfight as the trio battled for supremacy entering the far turn.
It didn’t take long, however, for Fightinirishtabit to draw clear. He extended his advantage to eight lengths, then to more than a dozen while being eased up at the wire. Make A Stand finished second, while Criticize was third.
For Fightinirishtabit, who has straddled both the flat and steeplechase racing circuits, it was his first victory over jumps since breaking his maiden at Charleston in 2019.
The replay of both races can be watched here: https://youtu.be/HXw3fQxjkyE
Full results can be found here: https://nationalsteeplechase.com/racing/