Storm Team set the pace from the start of the Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens’ $75,000 Aflac Supreme Hurdle and turned back two challenges in the stretch to claim a one-length victory over City Dreamer on Saturday.
Michael Mitchell rode the winner and pulled into a tie for the year’s jockey title with Jack Doyle, who was aboard City Dreamer. Each has 20 victories for the year.
Jack Fisher trained both Storm Team, owned by Sheila Williams and Northwoods Stable, and Riverdee Stable’s City Dreamer to the top spots in the year’s final stakes race for novices, or horses in their first seasons of racing over fences.
Maccabee, an overachiever owned by Steeplechase at Callaway Chairman Mason Hardaway Lampton, finished third, a length behind City Dreamer, and Iranistan was fourth, a half-length farther back.
On a Georgia race course that was favoring speed, Mitchell pushed to the lead at the start with Storm Team, a Candy Ride five-year-old who had finished third in the Far Hills Races’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle for novices on Oct. 19.
by Craig Braddick This week the NSA visits beautiful Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Georgia, the southernmost stop on the annual circuit for the Steeplechase at Callaway. Always a well-attended race meet, I recently asked one of the organizers, Kimberly Kapacziewski, some questions about this weekend’s event. 1. The Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens is well
A highly competitive field of nine remained intact after scratches for Saturday’s $75,000 Aflac Supreme Hurdle, the featured race of the 35th annual Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens.
The Aflac Supreme Hurdle highlights the National Steeplechase Association’s rising-stars division for novices, or horses in their first seasons of racing over fences. The program offers $175,000 in purses at the Pine Mountain, Ga., course and drew full fields for the five races, with a minimum of seven starters per race after scratches. First post time is noon.
Weights for the 2¼-mile Aflac Supreme Hurdle are determined by age and number of victories. Hudson River Farms’ Iranistan, a five-year-old who is the reigning novice champion, carries the 159-pound highweight because of his three victories last year, including a romp in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle.
The Einstein gelding subsequently placed in two Grade 1 races at Saratoga Race Course, a second in the A. P. Smithwick Memorial and third in the New York Turf Writers Cup, before going to the sidelines in the fall of 2018.
The Monday Report for Nov. 4, featuring the victories of Irv Naylor’s Amschel in the Montpelier Hunt Races’ Noel Laing Handicap and of Upland Partners’ Mystic Strike in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, is now available here. The web address is: https://www.nationalsteeplechase.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/MR11-4-19w.pdf
Upland Partners’ Mystic Strike began the year with a major victory, and he closed out the 2019 season with a win in the year’s final timber classic, Sunday’s $40,000 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup.
Jockey Mark Beecher placed Mystic Strike behind the pace of Armata Stables’ Grand Manan, and the 10-year-old Smart Strike gelding closed powerfully approaching the last fence to win by 2¼ lengths over the pacesetter.
Irv Naylor’s Super Saturday, who finished third in the International Gold Cup eight days earlier, picked up another third-place check, 4¼ lengths behind Grand Manan. Blair Wyatt’s Witor finished fourth, a neck farther back in a field of six, and It’s Nothing finished fifth for Move Up Stables and Sally Reed.
Trained by Todd McKenna, Mystic Strike completed the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup’s four miles in 9:07 3/5 and raised his 2019 earnings to $57,000 with the Unionville classic’s $24,000 first-place purse.
Winner of the My Lady’s Manor in his first start this year, Mystic Strike came into the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup with a big question mark after being pulled up in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup on Oct. 12.
Irv Naylor’s Amstel, always racing comfortably under Graham Watters, jumped powerfully to the lead at the last fence of the Montpelier Hunt Races’ $40,000 Noel Laing Handicap, gave up some ground on the final turn, and repelled Stooshie to win by 3¼ lengths on Saturday.
Woodslane Farm’s Pik Em, winner of the Far Hills Races’ Appleton ratings handicap on Oct. 19, closed some ground late to finish third, three-quarters of a length behind Rosbrian Farm’s Stooshie, in a field of eight.
Straylight Racing’s Invocation finished fourth, another 2¼ lengths farther back. Amschel ran the Noel Laing’s 2½-mile distance in 5:20 on turf rated as good.
Trained by Cyril Murphy, Amschel made his first appearance in a year with a sixth-place finish in the Appleton, and he clearly benefited from his comeback race in New Jersey two weeks earlier. The five-year-old carried the 158-pound co-highweight based on his three-race winning streak last year in Ireland.
He was sidelined after a third-place finish in Far Hills’ 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and passed tired horses in the Appleton, in which Stooshie finished third.
Buttonwood Farms’ All the Way Jose, ridden by Willie McCarthy, took the lead shortly after the first of 11 trips over the historic Montpelier course’s natural brush fences, with Rather Be Racing’s Kremlin and Rosbrian Farm’s Stooshie in his wake.