Leading trainer Jack Fisher and current top jockey Michael Mitchell added to their leads in the National Steeplechase Association standings in Monmouth Park’s two $30,000 maiden hurdles on Thursday, with Fisher winning both races and Mitchell securing a victory aboard Not in Charge in the first division.
Willie McCarthy, who also rides regularly for Fisher, notched his third win of the season with Snap Decision for current leading owner Bruton Street-US in the second division.
The victories were the 23rd and 24th of the year for Maryland-based Fisher, who pushed his stable earnings above $800,000. His closest competitor is Jonathan Sheppard, who has seven wins and earnings of approximately $200,000.
Mitchell now has 16 wins, seven more than Sean McDermott, as jump racing turns toward summer races at Saratoga Race Course and Colonial Downs.
Both winners followed the same pattern by gaining an early lead on Monmouth’s firm turf course and never looking back.
Not in Charge, owned by Sheila Williams and Northwoods Stable, took charge at the second fence under Mitchell and raced with an uncontested lead ahead of Silver Crescent and Hepcat into the stretch the final time. Ballybristol Farm’s Silver Crescent launched a challenge at the last fence but could not sustain his bid.
Owner-trainer Sheppard’s Hepcat continued to run through the stretch and finished second, 1 ½ lengths behind Not in Charge and 2 ½ lengths ahead of third finisher Silver Crescent.
Sent to the start at 11-to-10, Not in Charge paid $4.20 to win after running the 2 1/16-mile distance in 3:51.32. The five-year-old Lemon Drop Kid gelding had finished fourth in his previous start, a maiden hurdle at the Fair Hill Races on May 25.
Snap Decision snapped to the front end at the start in the second division, with Richard C. Colton Jr.’s 19.30-to-1 Seeking Albert close behind him and forcing a stiff pace. Immediately behind the top two were Hudson River Farms’ Snuggling and Gill Johnston’s Master Plan.
Snap Decision pulled clear on the final turn, led by five lengths at the final fence, and came home to a 4 ½-length victory in 3:41.41. Snap Decision, second to promising import Markhan in an Iroquois Steeplechase maiden hurdle on May 11, went off as the 2.90-to-1 second betting choice and paid $7.80 to win.
Seeking Albert, ridden by McDermott, finished second, 6 ¾ lengths clear of Master Plan in third. Riverdee Stable’s Gostisberehere, the 2.60-to-1 favorite, finished fourth.