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.
Fisher also nominated Riverdee Stable’s City Dreamer, who was fifth in the New Jersey race. In May, City Dreamer won the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle.
Finishing fourth in the Foxbrook was Irv Naylor’s Chief Justice, who is pursuing his first U.S. victory for trainer Cyril Murphy. After a late-closing fourth in the Marcellus Frost, the four-year-old finished third in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 19.
Naylor’s Elucidation also was nominated to the Aflac Supreme Hurdle. The Irish-bred five-year-old most recently finished fifth in a Shawan Downs ratings handicap for Murphy.
Trainer Ricky Hendriks nominated Crocodile Pockets Syndicate’s Lethal Steps, who finished eighth in Far Hills’ Harry E. Harris Stakes for four-year-olds before a third-place finish in the International Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2) on Oct. 26.
The Pennsylvania-based trainer also nominated Rosbrian Farm’s newcomer The Holy One, who was pulled up in the Grand National.
Also coming out of the Far Hills meet is Jeffrey Amling’s and Merriefield Farm’s My Afleet, who finished fifth in the Appleton ratings handicap. Trained by Mark Beecher, My Afleet finished sixth in the Marcellus Frost.
Here are the 13 nominees to the $75,000 Aflac Supreme Hurdle. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Big Bend. 2014 b. g., Union Rags—Lenatareese, by Broad Brush. Owner: Kinross Farm. Trainer: Neil Morris. Breeder: Daniel S. Burke and Kathleen Schweizer (Ky.) 2019 NSA record: 2-1-1-0, $26,100. Won maiden hurdle at 2019 Virginia Fall meet and then was second in International Gold Cup allowance hurdle. (117)
Chief Justice (GB). 2015 b. g., Acclamation—Freedom Pass, by Gulch. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Breeder: G. B. Partnership (GB). 2019 NSA record: 3-0-0-1, $17,500. Finished third in Belmont Park’s 2019 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, then was fourth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. In U.S. debut for former trainer Gordon Elliott, closed well to be fourth in Iroquois Steeplechase’s 2019 Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes. Won his send-off race, a quality handicap race at Aintree on Grand National day. Tested at Cheltenham in Fred Winter Handicap and finished in midpack. Won three straight races as a three-year-old in 2018. (131)
City Dreamer (Ire). 2014 ch. g., Casamento—Cadesia, by Cadeaux Genereux (GB). Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Redpender Stud (Ire). 2019 record: 4-1-0-0, $72,750. 2018 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $9,250. Finished fifth in Far Hills’ 2019 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Won Iroquois Steeplechase’s 2019 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle after fourth in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase, then was fourth in Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. Finished fifth in 2018 Entenmann, his U.S. debut, then was fourth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division. Won two English juvenile hurdles in September 2017 and had been competitive in modest handicap company. (131)
Elucidation (Ire). 2014 b. g., Oasis Dream (GB)—Mimalia, by Silver Hawk. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Breeder: Niarchos Family (Ire). 2019 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $1,200. 2018 record: 3-2-0-0, $45,000. Finished fifth in 2019 Shawan Downs ratings handicap after seventh in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Showed promise in fall of 2018 with maiden hurdle win at Shawan Downs and allowance hurdle victory at International Gold Cup. (119)
Gaye Breeze (Ire). 2013 b. g., Getaway (Ger)—Railway House, by Ashkalani. Owner: Petticoats Loose Farm. Trainer: Meriwether Morris. Breeder: Ballyreddin Stud (Ire). 2019 NSA record: 7-1-1-2, $32,000. Finished good second in 2019 International Gold Cup ratings handicap after seventh in Shawan handicap. Finished third in Saratoga allowance hurdle, then was pulled up in similar race. Won Fair Hill maiden hurdle in his third career start, all in 2019. Finished third at Carolina Cup in his debut. (115)
Iranistan. 2014 dk. b. or br. g., Einstein (Brz)—Miss Vindictive, by Stephen Got Even. Owner: Hudson River Stables. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Breeder: Crossed Sabres Farm (Ky.) 2019 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2018 NSA record: 5-3-1-1, $145,000. Champion novice 2018. In first 2019 start, pulled up in Grand National (Gr. 1) after leading early. Finished game second in Saratoga’s 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), then was third in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), while favored in both. Won 2018 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices by six lengths. Skipped maiden ranks and won allowance hurdles at Carolina Cup and Middleburg Spring to begin 2018 season. Scored maiden flat victory at Delaware Park in July 2018. (129)
Jump Ship. 2012 dk. b. or br. g., Jump Start—Britannia, by Sea Hero. Owner: Why Not Racing. Trainer: Lilith Boucher. Breeder: Althea D. Richards (Va.) 2019 NSA record: 6-1-1-1, $34,750. Won maiden victory in fifth try at 2019 Colonial Downs meet and then was fourth in International Gold Cup allowance hurdle. (115)
Lethal Steps (GB). 2015 gr. g., Lethal Force (Ire)—Tanda Tula (Ire), by Alhaarth (Ire). Owner: Crocodile Pockets Syndicate. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Breeder: Seaton Partnership (GB). 2019 NSA record: 2-0-0-1, $4,500. Finished eighth in Far Hills’ 2019 Harry Harris Stakes as even-money favorite, then was third in International Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2). Won hurdle maiden in April 2019 and later won a Galway allowance hurdle at 10-to-1 odds. (129)
Maccabee. 2013 b. g., Street Hero—Sawgrass Express, by Roman Diplomat. Owner: Mason Hardaway Lampton. Trainer: Lilith Boucher. Breeder: Hartwell Farm (Ky.). 2019 NSA record: 6-3-0-0, $42,000. 2018 record: 7-1-0-1, $15,041. Finished seventh in Far Hills’ Appleton ratings handicap. Scored back-to-back ratings handicap wins at 2019 Foxfield Spring and Radnor meets. Lost rider in Shawan Downs ratings handicap. Won Aiken Spring maiden claimer on a disqualification and then finished seventh in The Cup Runneth Over ratings handicap. (117)
My Afleet. 2011 gr. or ro. g., Afleet Alex—My Own Story, by Lasting Approval. Owners: Jeffrey S. Amling and Merriebelle Stable. Trainer: Mark Beecher. Breeders. Jeffrey S. Amling and Charles Noell. 2019 record: 3-0-1-0, $23,000. 2018 record: No starts. Finished fifth in Far Hills’ 2019 Appleton ratings handicap. Closed boldly for second in 2019 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase, then was sixth in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. Made a successful jumps debut with 34 1/2-length victory in 2017 Tryon Block House maiden hurdle, then won Virginia Gold Cup allowance hurdle before second in Frost. Stakes winner on flat finished second in Saratoga’s John’s Call Stakes in final flat start. (123)
Repeat Repeat. 2014 dk. b. or br. g., Arch—Dattt Echo, by Stormy Atlantic. Owner: Bon Nouvel Chasers. Trainer: Julie Gomena. Breeder: Dattt Farm (Ky.) 2019 record: 4-1-1-1, $34,700. Finished second in 2019 Virginia Fall ratings handicap, then was pulled up when impeded in International Gold Cup ratings handicap. Won his steeplechase debut by a neck at the 2019 Carolina Cup, and then was third in tough allowance hurdle at Iroquois after setting early pace. Had four consecutive first-place finishes on flat in 2018. (117)
Storm Team. 2014 ch. g., Candy Ride (Arg)—Stormy Dixie, by Stormy Atlantic. Owner: Sheila Williams and Northwoods Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Colts Neck Stables (Ky.). 2019 NSA record: 5-1-0-2, $44,000. 2018 record: 5-1-1-2, $30,120. Finished third in Far Hills’ 2019 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Finished fifth in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Faded to eighth in Marcellus Frost at Iroquois Steeplechase after third in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Kicked off 2019 season with three-length win in Carolina Cup allowance hurdle. Won a maiden hurdle at 2018 Foxfield Fall and was second in Callaway flat race. Finished third in Monmouth Park maiden hurdle after being pulled up in Radnor maiden hurdle. (124)
The Holy One (Ire). 2013 b. g., Court Cave (Ire)—Vickate (Ire), by Old Vic (GB). Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Breeder: Rosemary Swan (Ire). 2019 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $0. Pulled up in Far Hills’ 2019 Grand National (Gr. 1), his U.S. debut. Won a modest hurdle handicap in April and in most recent start finished in a dead-heat for third in a steeplechase allowance in August. (127)