Champion trainer Jack Fisher will field a formidable trio of novice hurdlers for Saturday’s $100,000 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle, one of three stakes races supporting the $200,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) at the 77th annual Iroquois Steeplechase.
In all, the Iroquois Steeplechase will offer $525,000 in purses, a record for the meet and the largest prize money total on the National Steeplechase Association’s spring schedule. First post time is 1 p.m. CDT.
The 2 1/4-mile Marcellus Frost, for horses in their first seasons of competition over fences, attracted a field of nine. Heading the Fisher team is Riverdee Stable’s Gibralfaro, winner of the Tryon Block House allowance hurdle in his first U.S. start. Sean McDermott will ride.
Fisher, the NSA’s leading trainer for the past six years, also entered Armata Stables’ New Member, most recently third in the Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase for novices on April 28, and DASH Stable’s Ice It, fifth in the Queen’s Cup after winning that race in 2017. Willie McCarthy rides New Member, and Danny Mullins will be aboard Ice It.
Jack Doyle, currently leading the jockey standings, will be aboard The Fields Stable’s Barnacle Bill, winner of the Georgia Cup ratings handicap on April 7. The Irish-bred is trained by Elizabeth Voss.
Also coming out of the Queen’s Cup is Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Lachares, who finished second for trainer Richard Valentine. Michael Mitchell has a return call.
Another Queen’s Cup competitor heading into the Marcellus Frost is Gillian Johnston’s Mutasaawy, who was seventh. Kieran Norris has the mount for trainer Neil Morris.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard will saddle Hudson River Farms’ Iranistan, front-running winner of an allowance hurdle at the Middleburg Spring Races on April 21. Darren Nagle, the reigning champion jockey, will ride.
Leading owner Irv Naylor entered Osmoz, who is trained by Cyril Murphy. Osmoz will be making his first 2018 start after a fifth-place finish in the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at the Far Hills Races in October. Graham Watters will be aboard Osmoz.
Here is the field for the $100,000 Marcellus Frost Champion Stakes. Post positions will be drawn Thursday. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Mutasaawy. 2010 b. g., Tapit—Pretty Proud, by Mr. Greeley. Owner: Gillian Johnston. Trainer: Neil Morris. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Pretty Proud Syndicate (Ky.). 2018 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2017 NSA record: 6-2-1-1, $66,900. Finished seventh in 2018 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Impressed in winning 2017 Saratoga allowance hurdle, then finished third in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Novice Stakes. Stumbled and lost his jockey early in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, then was sixth in Aflac Supreme Hurdle. Broke through at Parx Racing with a dominant victory in a $25,000 maiden hurdle. (121)
Osmoz. 2012 dk. b. or br. g., Birdstone—Wichitoz, by Affirmed. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Graham Watters. Breeder: Wertheimer et Frere (Ky.) 2017 record: 3-1-0-0, $24,400. 2016 record: 3-1-0-0, $20,950. Opened 2017 with win in Middleburg Spring ratings handicap, then finished fifth in Iroquois ratings handicap and Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Won Parx maiden hurdle in July 2016. Made two starts on the flat in California for Racing Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella, with a fourth as his best showing. (117).
Lachares (Ire). 2013 ch. g., Manduro (Ger)—Louve Imperiale, by Giant’s Causeway. Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Dayton Investments Ltd. (Ire). 2018 record: 2-0-1-0, $16,500. 2017 NSA record: 3-0-0-0, $7,500. Finished second in 2018 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase after fifth in Carolina Cup for novices. Finished fourth in Belmont Park’s 2017 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes and Aflac Supreme Hurdle. Also finished eighth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Product of Wildenstein breeding operation made impressive debut over fences in Ireland with three hurdle wins, a second, and four thirds in busy 2017 season. (125)
Iranistan. 2014 dk. b. or br. g., Einstein (Brz)—Miss Vindictive, by Stephen Got Even. Owner: Hudson River Stables. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Crossed Sabres Farm (Ky.) 2018 NSA record: 2-2-0-0, $36,000. Skipped maiden ranks and won allowance hurdles at Carolina Cup and Middleburg Spring to begin 2018 season. Maiden on flat in four starts. (122)
Gibralfaro. (Ire). 2012 b. g., Dalakhani (Ire)—Ronda, by Bluebird. Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Sarl Darpat France (Ire). 2018 record: 1-1-0-0, $21,000. 2017 NSA record: No starts. Set pressured pace and won 2018 Tryon Block House allowance hurdle. In final start in England in October 2017, finished third in an allowance hurdle at Bangor-on-Dee. Last win was at Ascot in an allowance hurdle in January 2017. (135)
Barnacle Bill (Ire). 2012 gr. or ro g., Big Bad Bob—Katch Me Katie, by Danehill. Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Irish National Stud (Ire). 2018 record: 1-1-0-0, $18,000. 2017 record: 5-1-2-0, $32,700. Won the 2018 Georgia Cup, a ratings handicap, by 15 3/4 lengths. Toiled in the maiden hurdle ranks in 2017 and after two close seconds broke through for a front-running victory at the International Gold Cup. (124)
Ice It. 2012 gr. or ro. g., Tapit—Spice Island, by Tabasco Cat. Owner: DASH Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Danny Mullins. Breeder: Qatar Bloodstock (Ky.) 2018 record: 2-0-0-0, $6,000. 2017 record: 6-1-2-1, $100,330. 2016 record: 5-1-3-0, $68,250. 2015 record: 3-1-0-0, $18,600. Finished fourth in 2018 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase after sixth in Carolina Cup. Finished hard-trying second in Far Hills Races’ 2017 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and Aflac Supreme Hurdle behind rising star Zanjabeel. Won 2017 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase after sixth in Carolina Cup, then was third in Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle at Iroquois Steeplechase. Won Far Hills’ Gladstone Hurdle to lock up 2015 three-year-old championship. (129)
New Member (Ire). 2011 b. g., Alhaarth (Ire)—Sincere, by Buhhare. Owner: Armata Stables. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Golden Garden Stud. 2018 record: 2-0-0-2, $7,500. 2017 NSA record: 4-0-1-2, $28,500. Began 2018 with thirds in Carolina Cup and Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Finished second in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Novice Stakes after well-beaten third in Saratoga’s 2017 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes, then finished third in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Finished good third in Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes but disqualified for going off-course in tight quarters. Had allowance and handicap wins in England in 2016. (129)