Jack Fisher, on the verge of his second million-dollar season, will unleash a triple threat on Saturday’s $75,000 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle when he saddles Syros, Overwhelming, and Broxbourne for the featured race of the 31st annual Steeplechase at Callaway.
First post time is 1 p.m. at the Pine Mountain, Ga., course.
The 2 1/4-mile AFLAC Supreme Hurdle is the year’s final stakes race for novices, the steeplechase sport’s rising-stars division for horses in their first seasons of racing over fences. Its rich purse could move Fisher closer to the seven-figure mark, and it will decide the new Sport of Kings Bonus, worth approximately $30,000 to the top finisher.
Through Nov. 1, Fisher had 2015 National Steeplechase Association purses totaling $923,600. He holds the record for the highest purses, $1,156,907 in 2008.
Gil Johnston’s Syros is poised to take over the lead in the Sport of Kings Bonus, based on the results of Sport of Kings maiden races and novice stakes, from now-inactive African Oil. The Sport of Kings Bonus awards points based on finishing positions in those races, and Syros trails African Oil by only one point.
Winner of the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes, Syros will be attempting to come back from three consecutive sixth-place finishes, most recently in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle for novices on Oct. 17. Top Australian jockey Steve Pateman, riding the fall season in the U.S., has the mount on Syros.
The other AFLAC Supreme Hurdle entrant with a shot at the Sport of King Bonus’ top award is Woodslane Farm’s Overwhelming, who won Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 24. Sean McDermott rides Overwhelming, who most recently fell in the late stages of the International Gold Cup’s David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) on Oct. 24.
Completing Fisher’s trio is Mrs. Johnston’s Broxbourne, who finished second, beaten 2 1/2 lengths, in the Entenmann. Connor Hankin has the mount on Broxbourne, winner of a Steeplechase at Callaway allowance hurdle last year.
Also coming out of the Foxbrook is Rosbrian Farm’s Long House Saint, who finished eighth for trainer Ricky Hendriks. Mark Beecher will ride.
Completing the field is S. Bruce Smart Jr.’s Dai Bando, a four-year-old recently imported from Ireland and now residing in trainer Jimmy Day’s yard. Richard Boucher has the mount.
The Callaway program also will feature a $25,000 open timber race headed by Sheila Williams’ and Andre Brewster’s Straight to It, who finished third to 2015 timber champion Grinding Speed in the International Gold Cup on Oct. 24. Fisher trains Straight to It and Bruton Street-US’s Ballylifen, the International Gold Cup’s fourth finisher.
Here is the field for the $75,000 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle.
Broxbourne. 2009 dk. b. or br. g., Purim—Morlana, by More Than Ready. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Connor Hankin. Breeders: Jason Litt and Howard Litt (Ky.) 2015 record: 4-0-1-0, $15,250. 2014 record: 6-2-0-0, $48,750. Finished second in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial before being pulled up in Far Hills Ratings Handicap on Oct. 17. Finished fourth in Queen’s Cup Ratings Hurdle on April 25 before sixth in Ratings Handicap at Fair Hill four weeks later. Capped 2014 season with victory in Steeplechase at Callaway’s allowance hurdle.
Long House Saint (Ire). 2009 b. g., Antonius Pius—Mintaka (Ire), by Fairy King. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Mark Beecher. Breeder: John Duggan (Ire). 2015 record: 4-0-0-0, $3,000. 2014 NSA record: 2-2-0-0, $44,100. Faded to eighth after setting pace in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle on Oct. 17. Finished fifth in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 24. Fell in Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase, his 2015 debut, and in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes. Landed in America last fall and immediately won allowance hurdles at Far Hills, N.J. and Colonial Cup meet in Camden, S.C.
Overwhelming. 2010 b. g., Hard Spun—Oh What a Windfall, by Seeking the Gold. Owner: Woodslane Farm. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Phipps Stable (Ky.) 2015 record: 5-2-1-0, $91,300. 2014 NSA record: 6-1-2-1, $27,250. Won Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes by 2 1/2 lengths on Sept. 24, then fell in the latter stages of the David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 3) at the International Gold Cup on Oct. 24. Had a rough trip when fifth in Saratoga optional allowance hurdle on Sept. 2. Won Saratoga allowance hurdle by 8 1/4 lengths on July 29.
Dai Bando (Ire). 2011 b. g., Montjeu (Ire)—Ghurra, by War Chant. Owner: S. Bruce Smart Jr. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Richard Boucher. Breeder: Mogeely Stud (Ire). 2015 NSA record: No starts. Recent import had modest success in Irish handicaps and allowance hurdles this year. Won allowance hurdle and finished second in Bar One Juvenile Hurdle Stakes last year.
Syros. 2008 b. g., Dynaformer—Meridiana (Ger), by Lomitas (GB). Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Steve Pateman. Breeders: Jon and Sarah Kelly (Ky.) 2015 record: 6-1-1-0, $74,250. 2014 NSA record: 9-2-3-2, $90,600. Finished sixth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1), and Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Won Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes before fourth in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Finished a closing second in the 2015 Carolina Cup.