Sheila Williams’ and Northwoods Stable’s Special Skills, who broke through for a special victory in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, heads a formidable three-horse team for champion trainer Jack Fisher in Saturday’s $75,000 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle, the featured race of the 32nd annual Steeplechase at Callaway.
First post time is 1 p.m. for the five-race program.
Special Skills will be ridden by Willie McCarthy in the 2 1/4-mile race for novices, or horses in their first seasons of racing over fences. The six-year-old Bernstein gelding has won $133,750 in purses this year, tops in the novice division. Special Skills also won a Saratoga Race Course handicap and finished third in the William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes at Belmont Park on Sept. 22.
Fisher, on the cusp of his second consecutive million-dollar season, also entered DASH Stable’s Ice It and Gil Johnston’s Dye Fore. Ice It, last year’s three-year-old champion, finished second in the Foxbrook, and Dye Fore was second in the Entenmann.
Sean McDermott has the riding assignment on Ice It, and Alice Mills will ride Dye Fore.
A hot trainer-rider combination in late October was Neil Morris and Kieran Norris, who accounted for three victories at the rich International Gold Cup meet and one win at last weekend’s Aiken Fall Steeplechase.
One of their International Gold Cup winners, Thomas A. Hulfish’s Formidable Heart, returns in the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle after winning a tough allowance hurdle by three-quarters of a length. With the late-season splurge, Norris now has a three-race cushion atop the year’s jockey standings by wins.
Champion owner Irv Naylor entered All That Rules and Tubal. Trained by Cyril Murphy, All That Rules won the High Hope Steeplechase’s featured optional allowance hurdle in May. Tubal, trained by Kevin Tobin, is winless this year but has finished in the money in all of his starts. Carol-Ann Sloan was named on both horses.
Trainer Ricky Hendriks entered Rosbrian Farm’s Hisaabaat, second in a Far Hills Ratings Handicap after a fifth in Belmont’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Ross Geraghty has the mount.
Completing the field is Dyna’s Vow, owned by Amy Taylor Rowe and trained by Leslie Young. Fourth in a Virginia Fall Ratings Handicap, Dyna’s Vow will be ridden by overseas-based jockey Rhys Flint.
Here is the field for the $75,000 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle. The number in parentheses at the end of each profile is the horse’s National Steeplechase Association rating.
Dyna’s Vow. 2011 dk. b. or br. g., Broken Vow—Dyna’s Greeley, by Dynaformer. Owner: Amy Taylor Rowe. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Rhys Flint. Breeder: Clifford Grum (Ky.) 2016 record: 6-0-0-2, $12,650. 2015 NSA record: 2-1-0-1, $26,000. Finished third in Ratings Handicap at 2016 Queen’s Cup, then was pulled up in Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at Iroquois Steeplechase. Finished third in Suffolk Downs Ratings Handicap and had fourth and fifth in Saratoga allowance hurdles Finished fourth in Virginia Fall Ratings Handicap. (113)
All That Rules (GB). 2009 b. g., Galileo (Ire)—Alba Stella (GB), by Nashwan. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Carol-Ann Sloan. Breeder: Miss K. Rausing and Balmerino Bloodstock (GB). 2016 record: 1-1-0-0, $15,000. 2015 record: 3-0-1-0, $4,500. Won High Hope’s featured optional allowance hurdle by 16 3/4 lengths to open 2016 season. Finished second in Colonial Cup split Ratings Handicap to conclude 2015 season. Disqualified from win in Montpelier handicap for going off course. (123)
Formidable Heart. 2010 b. g., Dynaformer—Win My Heart, by King of Kings (Ire). Owner: Thomas A. Hulfish III. Trainer: Neil Morris. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeders: Liberation Farm, Kathy Zoc, and the Dynaformer Syndicate (Ky.) 2016 record: 2-2-0-0, $42,000. 2015 record: 3-0-1-0, $5,100. Showed plenty of heart in winning 2016 International Gold Cup allowance hurdle by three-quarters of a length after easy score in Virginia Fall maiden hurdle. (116)
Special Skills. 2010 dk. b. or br. g., Bernstein—Kentucky Whisper, by Southern Halo. Owner: Sheila Williams and Northwoods Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Sierra Farm (Ky.) 2016 record: 7-2-1-2, $133,750. 2015 record: 3-2-0-0, $45,000. Won Far Hills’ 2016 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Sandwiched win in 2016 handicap between thirds in similar race and Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. Finished second in Carolina Cup, then fourth in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. (128)
Hisaabaat (Ire). 2008 b. g., Dubawi—Phariseek, by Rainbow Quest. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: Ballylinch Stud (Ire). 2016 record: 2-0-1-0, $15,000. Finished fifth in 2016 Lonesome Glory Handicap after year-long absence, then was distant second in Far Hills Ratings Handicap. Finished third in Irish allowance hurdle in August 2015 after unplaced finish in rich Guinness Galway Handicap Hurdle. (128)
Dye Fore. 2011 dk. b. or br. g., Giant’s Causeway—Homebound, by Dixie Union. Owner: Mrs. S. K. Johnston Jr. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Alice Mills. Breeder: Joseph Allen (Ky.) 2016 NSA record: 4-0-0-0, $0. 2015 record: 5-2-0-0, $37,350. Pulled up in 2016 Carolina Cup and Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at Iroquois Steeplechase, then finished seventh in Saratoga Ratings Handicap and Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. Concluded 2015 season with win in Colonial Cup Ratings Handicap division. Maiden winner on flat in France won Monmouth Park maiden race over hurdles. (116)
Ice It. 2012 gr. or ro. g., Tapit—Spice Island, by Tabasco Cat. Owner: DASH Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Qatar Bloodstock (Ky.) 2016 record: 4-1-2-0, $54,750. 2015 record: 3-1-0-0, $18,600. Won 2016 Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle impressively, then second in Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at Iroquois Steeplechase. Finished sixth in Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes before second in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Won Far Hills’ Gladstone Hurdle to lock up 2015 three-year-old championship. (120)
Tubal. 2010 b. g., Shakespeare—Lady Nadine, by Alzao. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kevin Tobin. Jockey: Carol-Ann Sloan. Breeder: Lady Olivia of North Cliff (Va.). 2016 record: 5-0-2-3, $27,200. 2015 record: 4-1-1-1, $43,750. Finished third in 2016 Iroquois Ratings Handicap, then was second in Suffolk Downs Ratings Handicap and third in Virginia Fall Ratings Handicap. Finished third in 2016 Carolina Cup, then second in 2016 Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle. (114)