Jack Fisher, aiming for his third straight leading trainer title, will send out a formidable trio of contenders for Saturday’s $100,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at the 94th annual Far Hills Races.
The Foxbrook, run at 2 1/2 miles over National Fences, very likely will play a major role in determining the champion of the National Steeplechase Association’s novice division, which is limited to horses in their first years of competition over fences.
Fisher won the 2012 trainer title, shared it with Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard last year, and leads the current year’s standings. For the Foxbrook, he entered Edith Dixon’s Schoodic and Gil Johnston’s team of Dahoud and Syros.
A year ago, Schoodic blazed to a dominant victory in Far Hills’ Gladstone Stakes and claimed the 2013 three-year-old championship. He has been inconsistent this year but devastating when at his best. He drew clear to a four-length win in Saratoga Race Course’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes in August.
Syros, a Saratoga allowance winner, finished fifth in Belmont Park’s $75,000 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 18. Dahoud, winner of the 2012 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway in Georgia, was unplaced in the W. Gary Baker Memorial on Oct. 4, his first start in almost two years.
Reigning champion jockey Paddy Young has the mount on Schoodic, Sam Jones will be aboard Syros, and Sean McDermott rides Dahoud.
Entering the Foxbrook in top form is Irv Naylor’s Address Unknown, who defeated a high-quality field in the Entenmann. Trained by Cyril Murphy, Address Unknown has racked up earnings of $91,500 and leads all novices by total purses. His only defeat over fences was a second to Schoodic in the Walsh. Ross Geraghty has the mount.
Murphy also entered Petticoats Loose Farm’s Choral Society, who finished fourth in the Entenmann. Harry Haynes will ride.
Sheppard, always a threat in major races, entered Rodman W. Moorhead III’s All the Way Jose and his One Giant Step. All the Way Jose finished second in the Entenmann after easily winning a Saratoga allowance hurdle on Aug. 27. One Giant Step is making his first start in three years. Leading jockey Willie McCarthy has the mount on All the Way Jose, and Darren Nagle rides One Giant Step.
Trainer Richard Valentine entered Anne Pape’s Fog Island, winner of the 2012 Foxbrook. He most recently finished fourth in the Walsh and will be ridden by Robbie Walsh. Trainer Elizabeth Voss Murray will send out The Fields Stable’s Tempt Me Alex, winner of the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Bright Hour Stakes on May 10 but pulled up in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 24. Gus Dahl has the mount.
Here is the field for the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle:
Tempt Me Alex. 2009 b. g., Afleet Alex—Attemptress, by Meadowlake. Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss Murray. 2014 record: 3-1-0-1, $23,500. 2013 record: 6-1-2-1, $24,900. Pulled up in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 24. Won Iroquois Steeplechase’s Bright Hour Stakes by more than four lengths on May 10. In first start of the year, finished third in Foxfield Spring’s Daniel Van Clief Memorial optional allowance hurdle.
Address Unknown (GB). 2007 b. g., Oasis Dream (GB)—Return, by Sadler’s Wells. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy2014 record: 4-3-1-0, $91,500. In most recent start, won Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. Finished second in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Aug. 14 after impressive victory in Monmouth Park optional allowance hurdle on June 13. Won $25,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle at Fair Hill Races on May 24 in first start over fences. Juddmonte-bred was handicap winner on flat in England but needed at least two miles to show his best.
One Giant Step. 2006 b. g., Mojave Moon—Gemini’s Gem, by Gemini Dreamer. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2014 record: No starts. 2013 record: No starts. Making his first start since finishing fourth in 2011 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Finished second in 2011 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes.
Schoodic. 2010 b. g., Tiznow—Aunt Henny, by Hennessy. Owner: Edith R. Dixon. Trainer: Jack Fisher. 2014 record: 5-2-0-1, $67,500. 2013 record: 2-2-0-0, $30,000. Scored impressive win in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes before finishing seventh in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Novice Stakes on Sept. 18. Pulled up in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 24 after being jostled in tight company. Lost his first race over fences when third in Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes on May 10. Won 2013 three-year-old championship in campaign that included wins in Far Hills’ Gladstone Stakes and Colonial Cup’s Raymond G. Woolfe Memorial.
Fog Island. 2006 b. g., Rossini—Orchid Island, by Broad Brush. Owner: Anne Pape. Trainer: Richard Valentine. 2014 record: 3-0-0-0, $6,750. 2013 record: 3-0-1-0, $12,750. Finished fourth in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Aug. 14. Finished fifth in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes after being pulled up in the Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) on May 10. Abbreviated 2013 season began with second in Carolina Cup. Won the 2012 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle.
Syros. 2008 b. g., Dynaformer—Meridiana (Ger), by Lomitas (GB). Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. 2014 NSA record: 7-2-1-2, $63,600. 2013 record: 3-0-0-1, $3,250. Finished fifth in Belmont Park’s $75,000 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 18 after win in Saratoga allowance hurdle. Also finished third in Saratoga allowance hurdle on July 23. Won Virginia Gold Cup maiden claimer by more than 30 lengths on May 3, then was second in Jay Trump starter allowance hurdle at the High Hope Steeplechase on May 18. Won a Belmont Park $35,000 claimer on June 15.
Choral Society. 2009 gr. or ro. g., Holy Bull—Star Singer, by Awesome Again. Owner: Petticoats Loose Farm. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. 2014 record: 4-2-0-1, $39,250. Most recently finished fourth in Belmont Park’s $75,000 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 18. Won Parx Racing allowance hurdle on July 1 after game victory in tough $25,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle at Monmouth Park on June 13.
All the Way Jose. 2010 b. g., Senor Swinger—Maternity Leave, by Northern Baby. Owner: Rodman W. Moorhead III. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. 2014 record: 5-2-3-0, $89,700. Finished second in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes after winning Saratoga allowance hurdle by 14 1/4 lengths. Close second in earlier Saratoga allowance hurdle. Collected maiden victory at Parx Racing on July 1.
Dahoud (NZ). 2006 b. g., Scaredee Cat—Aiglette, by Krona. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $1,200. In his first start since winning 2012 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle at the Steeplechase at Callaway in Georgia, finished sixth in the W. Gary Baker Memorial at Virginia Fall on Oct. 4. Was Grade 2-placed at Santa Anita Park in 2011.