The $75,000 Aflac Supreme Hurdle, the featured race of the 35th annual Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens on Saturday, Nov. 9, attracted a strong list of 13 nominees for the year’s final stakes race limited to novices, or horses in their first seasons of competition over fences.
First time will be noon for the racing program at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga.
Among the Aflac Supreme Hurdle nominees is the reigning novice champion, Hudson River Farms’ Iranistan, who is trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard. Now five, Iranistan came back after a nearly 14-month absence in Far Hills’ Grand National (Gr. 1), in which he led early and was pulled up on Oct. 19.
Several nominees for the 2¼-mile Aflac Supreme Hurdle are coming out of the Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle on Oct. 19.
Trainer Jack Fisher, who has shattered the National Steeplechase Association record for purse earnings with more than $1.5-million, nominated Sheila Williams’ and Northwoods Stable’s Storm Team, who finished third in the 2½-mile Foxbrook.
Montpelier Hunt Races’ $40,000 Noel Laing Handicap attracted a full field of 10 to contest the 2½-mile voyage over the Virginia course’s lofty natural brush fences on Saturday.
The Montpelier meet, on the property of President James Madison’s restored home, drew several full or oversubscribed fields for its seven races. First post time is 12:30 p.m.
Fifteen contenders were entered for the Noel Laing on Monday, but that group was reduced by scratches to 10 on Wednesday.
The Noel Laing will draw heavily from the Far Hills Races’ Appleton Handicap, a ratings handicap. Woodslane Farm’s Pik Em, trained by Jack Fisher, won the 2 1/8-mile Appleton by 3½ lengths at 24.30-to-1 odds. One of the fall season’s most improved horses, the five-year-old Tapit gelding will carry 150 pounds and will be ridden by Michael Mitchell.
Also coming out of the Appleton are Leipers Ford Steeplechase’s Querry Horse, the second finisher; Rosbrian Farm’s Stooshie, who finished third; Buttonwood Farm’s All the Way Jose, fourth; Irv Naylor’s Amschel, sixth; and Rather Be Racing’s Kremlin, ninth.
Stand Down and Super Saturday, the first two finishers in last year’s Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, are on course to clash again on Sunday in the 85th edition of the $40,000 timber classic at Unionville. Post time is 1:30 p.m. for the four-race program. Frank A. Bonsal Jr.’s Stand Down will be seeking his first win
The Monday Report for Oct. 28, featuring the victory of Dolly Fisher’s Schoodic in the $75,000 International Gold Cup, is now available here. The web address is: https://www.nationalsteeplechase.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/MR10-28-19w.pdf
Irv Naylor’s diverse stable notched two victories at Saturday’s Aiken Fall Races, including the featured $30,000 Budweiser Holiday Cup maiden hurdle with Family Tree. The Naylor team also won the $15,000 maiden claiming hurdle with Mighty Mark. With Barry Foley in the saddle, Family Tree made a strong late bid and won by two lengths
On an afternoon dominated by trainer Jack Fisher, his mother Dolly’s Schoodic moved into the top rank of timber racing with a 2½-length victory over division leader Andi’amu in Saturday’s $75,000 International Gold Cup.
Fisher continued his history-making season with three victories at the Great Meadows Race Course in The Plains, Va., and added to his record earnings total with more than $100,000 in purse earnings for the day.
In addition to the International Gold Cup, he also won the $75,000 David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2) with Riverdee Stable’s Gibralfaro and the $40,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle with Gill Johnston’s Brianbakescookies.
Schoodic, a nine-year-old Tiznow gelding, was enormously talented but unpredictable over hurdles, but he has shown respect and attention over timber fences. He was a perfect gentleman over the Great Meadow course under Hadden Frost and jumped cleanly over the 3½-mile timber course.