July 19, 2024

Modem aiming for first U.S. gold in Calvin Houghland Iroquois

Mr. Hot Stuff (#7) would be up in the last stride to deny Modem and All the Way Jose in the Grand National (G1) (photo courtesy of Far Hills Race Meeting Twitter)

Modem, who enjoyed a solid but frustrating first season of hurdling in the U.S. in 2017, will look to snap a string of runner-up finishes Saturday in the $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (G1) at Percy Warner Park in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Elizabeth Voss-trained eight-year-old arrived in the the states last summer with a reputation of being a potential good one. However, as the pari-mutuel betting favorite twice at Saratoga and once at Belmont, Modem had to settle for second in the A.P. Smithwick Memorial (G1), New York Turf Writers Cup (G1), and Lonesome Glory (G1).

The song was the same in his season finale last October in the Grand National (G1) at Far Hills, New Jersey. Though no wagering took place, Modem was the virtual favorite in the minds of form observers, but the son of Motivator fell short again, missing by a nose in a three-way photo.

Also involved in the Grand National photo were the winning Mr. Hot Stuff and All the Way Jose. While neither were as consistent at the top level as Modem, their respective Grade 1 wins last term in the Grand National and Lonesome Glory were enough to make them Eclipse Award finalists along with eventual champion Scorpiancer, last year’s Iroquois winner.

Mr. Hot Stuff and All the Way Jose made their season debut in the April 21 Temple Gwathmey (G2) at Middleburg, Virginia, finishing fifth and fourth, respectively, while Modem has not raced since the Grand National.

Zanjabeel has been first or second in four U.S. appearances, including back-to-back seconds in the season-opening Colonial Cup (G1) in late March and the Temple Gwathmey. Grade 2 winner Jamarjo, farther up the track in the Temple Gwathmey, was fourth to the aforementioned trio in the Grand National last fall, while Kremlin will attempt to stretch his speed the entire 24 furlongs after a 10-length handicap win at Camden, South Carolina, two weeks ago.

The Iroquois is the seventh and final race on the card with a scheduled post time of 4:30 p.m. (CDT).