A busy weekend of steeplechase racing is on tap Nov. 5 and 6 with racing at the Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens in Georgia and the Montpelier Hunt Races on Saturday and the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup on Sunday.
Irvin S. Naylor’s Lake Placid, the National Steeplechase Association’s leading novice runner this year, will seek his fourth straight victory in the $75,000 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle, the featured race of the Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens. The Pine Mountain, Ga., program also will feature the $30,000 Crown Royal Stakes for fillies and mares. First post time for the five-race card is 1 p.m. The Callaway Gardens races are available for pay-per-view video streaming.
Lake Placid, a $10,000 claim by leading owner Naylor in September, came back with a 20-length victory in the Airbus Hurdle, an optional allowance at the International Gold Cup in Virginia on Oct. 15. A week later, the six-year-old Giant’s Causeway gelding scored the biggest victory of his career, a front-running 2 1/4-length win in the $75,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at the Far Hills Races in New Jersey. Jockey Ross Geraghty will be in the saddle for trainer Joseph Delozier III.
Among Lake Placid’s six opponents is reigning novice champion All Together, who locked up his title with a victory in the 2010 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle for novices in their first seasons of competition over fences. Owned by Andre W. Brewster and Sheila J. Williams, the Danzig gelding won the Jonathan Kiser Novice at Saratoga Race Course on July 28 but tired on yielding ground in the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Xavier Aizpuru will ride All Together for trainer Jack Fisher.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard entered Timber Bay Farm’s History Boy and Augustin Stables’ Port Morsbey, both of whom have chased Lake Placid this fall. History Boy was second in the Foxbrook, and Port Morsbey finished third in the Airbus Chase. Danielle Hodsdon has the mount on History Boy, and Brian Crowley will be aboard Port Morsbey.
Lilith Boucher will saddle the Mede Cahaba Stables pairing of Complete Zen and Class Indian. Complete Zen defeated All Together twice this year, in the Georgia Cup at the Atlanta Steeplechase in April and National Hunt Cup at the Radnor Hunt Cup in Malvern, Pa., on May 21 before finishing fourth in the Foxbrook. Class Indian was pulled up in the Airbus Chase.
Completing the field for the 2 1/4-mile AFLAC Supreme Hurdle is Jubilee Stable’s Wantan, who finished second to Lake Placid in the Airbus Chase, his first start in nearly 15 months. Bernie Dalton has the mount for trainer Ted Thompson.
Crown Royal Stakes
Naylor’s Lonesome Nun, second in the Peapack Stakes at Far Hills on Oct. 22, will seek a breakthrough victory in the 2 1/4-mile Crown Royal. She also finished second in the Margaret Currey Henley Stakes at the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville on May 14 and was third in Saratoga Race Course’s Mrs. Ogden Phipps Stakes on Aug. 11. Aizpuru will ride Lonesome Nun for trainer Brianne Slater.
Also in the Crown Royal field is Fox Ridge Farm’s Upper Gulch, who finished third in the Peapack after a fourth-place finish in the Mrs. Ogden Phipps. Willie Dowling has the mount for trainer Tom Voss.
Tuatha De Danann Stable’s Red Dirt Girl finished fourth in the Mrs. Ogden Phipps before securing her maiden victory at the Foxfield Fall Races in Virginia on Sept. 25. She stumbled in the Peapack and was pulled up. Robbie Walsh will ride for trainer Richard Valentine.
Sheppard, pursuing a second straight training title, entered his Cubist and Bill Pape’s The Manner Born for the Crown Royal. The Manner Born finished second in the Crown Royal last year and was pulled up in the Peapack. Cubist finished second to Red Dirt Girl in the Foxfield maiden race. Crowley will ride The Manner Born, and Hodsdon will be aboard Cubist.
Mariah’s Promise, owned and trained by Michael F. Harris, will be seeking her first career win over fences. She finished second to Upper Gulch in a maiden race at the Strawberry Hill Races, held at Colonial Downs in Virginia, on May 21. Barry Duncan has the mount.
Decoy Daddy goes for two in Noel Laing
Leading National Steeplechase Association owner Irvin S. Naylor will play a strong hand with two formidable starters in the $40,000 Noel Laing Stakes, feature race of the 77th annual Montpelier Hunt Races in Montpelier Station, Va. First post time for the seven-race program is 12:30 p.m.
Naylor’s team comprises Decoy Daddy, runaway winner of last year’s Noel Laing, and Organisateur, a recent import who finished second in the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at the Far Hills Races in New Jersey on Oct. 22.
Decoy Daddy marked himself as a horse to watch when he drew away to a 25 1/2-length win in the 2010 Noel Laing, and the Irish-bred followed up this year with victories in the $50,000 Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) at the Middleburg Spring Races in Virginia on April 23 and the $75,000 Marcellus Frost at the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville on May 14.
He had a hard-luck fall on the flat in his most recent start, the $100,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1), Saratoga Race Course’s richest steeplechase race, after a bumping on Aug. 25. Trained by Tom Foley, Decoy Daddy will be ridden by Kevin Tobin.
Organisateur, now trained by Joseph Delozier III, finished a closing second in the Grand National, seven lengths behind stablemate Black Jack Blues. Carl Rafter has the mount.
Trainer Tom Voss entered two members from his Maryland-based stable for the Noel Laing. The Fields Stable’s Your Sum Man most recently finished fourth in the Grand National after pressing Black Jack Blues in the race’s final mile. The nine-year-old gelding won the Grand National in 2009. Champion jockey Paddy Young has the mount. Voss also entered Gentry Stable’s Be Certain, who is seeking his first victory of the year.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard entered Bill Pape’s Sermon of Love, winner of last year’s New York Turf Writers. In this year’s race, he lost his rider when unable to avoid the fallen Decoy Daddy.
Michael A. Smith’s Humdinger will be looking for his second consecutive victory after running a strong race to win the International Gold Cup’s Steeplethon on Oct. 15. Trainer Neil Morris named Jacob Roberts to ride. Completing the field is owner-trainer Randy Rouse’s One Sea, most recently third in the $10,000 Bon Nouvel at the Virginia Fall Races on Oct. 1. Roddy Mackenzie has the mount.
Timber title on the line in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup
Virginia Gold Cup winner Bon Caddo and Maryland Hunt Cup victor Private Attack will battle for the National Steeplechase Association’s 2011 timber championship in the 77th annual $35,000 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. The four-mile race over the Unionville course will highlight a four-race program, with a 1:30 p.m. first post time.
Merrifield Farm’s Bon Caddo, a 13-length winner of the $75,000 Virginia Gold Cup at The Plains on May 7, currently leads the timber standings with 2011 earnings of $67,200 and did not collect a purse check after bumping a fence and losing his rider on the final circuit of the $50,000 International Gold Cup on Oct. 15. Jody Petty will ride for trainer Dawn Williams.
In second place on the leader board, less than $3,000 behind at $64,250, is Maryland Hunt Cup and Grand National winner Private Attack. In his only start of the fall timber season, Sportsmans Hall’s Private Attack finished fourth in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup in New York. Mark Beecher will be in the saddle for trainer Alicia Murphy.
The Genesee Valley and the International Gold Cup may well turn out to be a key races for the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup. Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Professor Maxwell pulled off a modest upset in the Genesee Valley on Oct. 8. Darren Nagle will ride for trainer Richard Valentine.
Magalen O. Bryant’s G’Day G’day made up ground late to finish third in the International Gold Cup behind front-running Incomplete. Trainer Doug Fout tapped champion jockey Paddy Young to handle G’Day G’Day.
Irvin S. Naylor’s Gorgeous Charger was pulled up in the Genesee Valley and finished seventh in the New Jersey Hunt Cup at the Far Hills Races on Oct. 22. Trained by William Meister, Gorgeous Charger will be ridden by James Slater.
Also representing Naylor will be Fieldview, who had two second-place finishes this fall before being pulled up in the New Jersey Hunt Cup. Robbie Walsh will ride for trainer Kathy McKenna.
Completing the field is Upland Partners’ Meet at Eleven, who will be making his first start of the fall season for trainer Todd McKenna. The 11-year-old Irish-bred gelding finished a good second in the Mason Houghland Memorial at the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville on May 14. Carl Rafter will ride.