Anne Pape’s Fog Island, finding his best form at just the right time, will bid for his second straight major victory of the fall when he starts in the $50,000 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle, feature race of the 28th annual Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga., on Saturday, Nov. 3. Update: Fog Island was a late scratch on Saturday morning.
The National Steeplechase Association’s filly and mare championship will be on the line in the afternoon’s second stakes race, the $40,000 Crown Royal Stakes. First post time is 1 p.m. for the five-race program.
Trained by Richard Valentine, Fog Island had accomplished little since he was acquired privately over the winter. He had finished sixth in the National Hunt Cup in Pennsylvania on May 19 and then fell in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 27.
He entered the $75,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle as a longshot, but he savored the soft footing at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 20 and scored by 1 1/4 lengths in the stakes race for horses in their first seasons of competition over fences. Valentine named Xavier Aizpuru to ride the six-year-old Rossini gelding in the 2 1/4-mile AFLAC Supreme Hurdle.
Also winning at Far Hills was Gill Johnston’s Dahoud, who rolled to an eight-length victory in the $25,000 Harry E. Harris, a maiden hurdle race. Trainer Jack Fisher tapped Ross Geraghty to seek a second straight win aboard the New Zealand-bred gelding. Fisher also entered Woodslane Farm’s Brave Prospect, who finished fourth in the Entenmann.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard, who won last year’s AFLAC Supreme Hurdle with Port Morsbey, will be represented by his Barnstorming, who finished fifth in the Foxbrook after a nearly two-year layoff. Darren Nagle rides Barnstorming.
Jubilee Stables’ Wantan, who was third to Port Morsbey last year, will take another shot at the season-ending stakes race for novices. Bernie Dalton will ride for trainer Ted Thompson. Completing the field is Irvin S. Naylor’s Plenty Pocket, who will be making his first U.S. start.
Crown Royal Stakes
In the Crown Royal, two title contenders will slug it out for the 2012 Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare Championship. Kisser N Run and Cubist have scored major victories this season, and the Crown Royal’s $24,000 first-place purse will determine the champion. A third major contender, Quiet Flaine, was scratched.
Clarke Ohrstrom’s Kisser N Run never has tasted defeat over fences in her two starts. Trained by Richard Valentine, Kisser N Run scored a 3 3/4-length victory in the $75,000 Peapack Stakes at the Far Hills Races in New Jersey on Oct. 20. The four-year-old Pleasant Tap filly won her maiden start over fences at the Foxfield Fall Races in Virginia on Sept. 30. Xavier Aizpuru has the mount.
Owner-trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s Cubist was pulled up in the Peapack on soft ground, but she probably will favor firmer ground at Callaway for the 2 1/4-mile Crown Royal. The five-year-old Royal Academy mare, who was bred by Sheppard, won Saratoga Race Course’s Mrs. Walter M. Jeffords Filly and Mare Stakes on Aug. 30. Darren Nagle will ride.
Trainer Doug Fout entered Magalen O. Bryant’s Well Fashioned, who fell in the Peapack.
Trying to break through with a win in the Crown Royal are the Peapack’s second and third finishers. Irvin S. Naylor’s Cordillera, second in the Peapack, finished fourth in the Mrs. Jeffords in her first U.S. start. The British-bred filly is trained by Brianne Slater and will be ridden by Ross Geraghty.
The Peapack’s third finisher, Riverdee Stable’s Lillehammer, previously finished fourth in the Foxfield maiden race won by Kisser N Run. Bernie Dalton will ride. Completing the field is owner-trainer Karen Gray’s Dance Raven Dance, winner of an Aiken Fall maiden race for fillies and mares on Oct. 27.