A jam-packed field of 14 horses from American Steeplechasing’s championship division will line up Saturday, Oct. 22, for the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1), the featured race of the 91st annual Far Hills Races.
The talent-laden program at Moorland Farms in Far Hills, N.J., also features the $75,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle for novices in their first years of competition over fences, the $50,000 Peapack for fillies and mares, the $50,000 New Jersey Hunt Cup over timber fences, the $25,000 Gladstone for three-year-olds, and the $25,000 Harry E. Harris, a maiden allowance. First post time is 1 p.m., and live video streaming of Far Hill’s races will be available on a pay-per-view basis. Details are available on this page.
The Grand National, one of the oldest American steeplechase races and the richest race on the 2011 National Steeplechase Association schedule, is certain to be a key contest in determining the year-end champion.
Entering the 2 5/8-mile Grand National from a stunning upset in Saratoga Race Course’s $100,000 New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) is former claimer Mabou, owned by Drawing Away Stable and trainer David Jacobson.
Ridden by Robbie Walsh, Mabou exploded over the final fence of the New York Turf Writers and drew clear to a 5 3/4-length victory at odds of 16.60-1 on Aug. 25. He had been claimed for $30,000 from a Saratoga optional allowance three weeks earlier. Jacobson kept the Dynaformer gelding fit with a sixth-place finish in a Belmont Park starter handicap on Oct. 7.
Dirar, who shipped from Ireland for the New York Turf Writers and led at the final fence before finishing second, also will line up for the Grand National. He subsequently finished a disappointing sixth in the Dorothy Fred Smithwick Stakes at the Virginia Fall Races on Oct. 1 for trainer Gordon Elliott. Joey Elliott has the mount.
The Grand National also attracted the immediate two past winners, Your Sum Man in 2009 and Irish-bred Percussionist last year.
Owned by the Fields Stable of Betty and George Merck, Your Sum Man is seeking his first win since his Far Hills triumph. Trained in Maryland by Tom Voss, Your Sum Man most recently finished third in the David L. (Zeke) Ferguson Memorial Hurdle (Gr. 3) at Colonial Downs in Virginia on June 26. Champion jockey Paddy Young has the mount.
Voss, perennially among the leading steeplechase trainers, also entered Armata Stable’s Dynaski, who finished third in the New York Turf Writers.
Percussionist arrived from Denmark and ran a stunning Grand National last year, but he went off form and finished unplaced for his new owner, Irvin S. Naylor, in two subsequent races.
Naylor, a Pennsylvania businessman and philanthropist who currently leads the NSA’s owner standings, entered three others for the Grand National. His Tax Ruling won the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) for the second straight year at the Nashville meet on May 21, and recent acquisition Black Jack Blues scored a front-running victory in the $35,000 Dorothy Fred Smithwick. Organisateur, another overseas acquisition, finished fifth in Saratoga’s Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes in August.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard entered five veteran steeplechase horses, including two owned by Bill Pape, for the Grand National. Pape’s Divine Fortune won Saratoga’s $75,000 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 2) for a second straight year but was disqualified to from fourth to sixth in the New York Turf Writers for a bumping incident. Pape’s Lead Us Not, third in last year’s Grand National, finished fifth in the Dorothy Fred Smithwick.
Sheppard also nominated Mary Ann Houghland’s Nationbuilder, winner of last year’s Foxbrook who most recently finished third in the Dorothy Fred Smithwick. Sheppard bred and owns Italian Wedding, winner of the Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes in August. Making his first 2011 start over fences would be Hudson River Farms’ Arcadius, winner of the $100,000 Helen Haskell Sampson (Gr. 1) at Monmouth Park in September 2010.
Mrs. Houghland also will be represented by Pierrot Lunaire, the 2009 Iroquois winner who is trained by Bruce Miller. Jacob Roberts has the mount on Pierrot Lunaire, who finished fourth in this year’s Calvin Houghland Iroquois, which is named for her late husband.
Champions battle in Foxbrook Champion Hurdle
Two 2010 champions, novice leader All Together and three-year-old title-holder Demonstrative, will battle in the $75,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, one of the featured contests of the 91st annual Far Hills Races in Far Hills, N.J., on Saturday, Oct. 22.
All Together, owned by Andre Brewster and Sheila J. Williams, was narrowly defeated in last year’s Foxbrook, which is limited to horses in their first years of competition over fences. Trained by Jack Fisher, the well-bred Danzig gelding won Saratoga Race Course’s Jonathan Kiser Novice on July 28 before finishing third in the Michael G. Walsh Novice three weeks later.
Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative broke through at the top level of novice competition with a flashy victory in the William Entenmann Novice at Belmont Park on July 3. The Richard Valentine trainee subsequently finished second in the Walsh and the $35,000 Dorothy Fred Smithwick at the Virginia Fall Races on Oct. 1.
Mede Cahaba Stable’s Complete Zen will be shooting for his third novice victory of the year in the Foxbrook. Trained by Lilith Boucher, the Cozzene gelding narrowly defeated All Together in the Georgia Cup and Radnor Hunt Cup before finishing fifth in the Entenmann.
Making a one-week turnaround is Irvin Naylor’s Lake Placid, who won the $25,000 Airbus Chase, an optional allowance, at the International Gold Cup in Virginia on Oct. 15.
The Foxbrook Champion Hurdle entrants are:
Lake Placid. 2005 b. g., Giant’s Causeway–Saranac Lake, by Smart Strike. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Joseph Delozier III. Jockey: Carl Rafter. 2011 record: 9-5-0-1, $69,750. Won $25,000 Airbus Chase at International Gold Cup on Oct. 15. Claimed from previous start, a win at Colonial Downs on Sept. 18.
Complete Zen. 2006 gr. or ro. g., Cozzene–Complete Number, by Polish Numbers. Owner: Mede Cahaba Stable. Trainer: Lilith Boucher. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2011 record: 4-2-1-0, $71,000. Won Radnor’s National Hunt Cup by a nose over All Together but was fifth in the Entenmann Novice at Belmont Park on July 3. Won Georgia Cup by a head over All Together after setting all the pace.
Cornhusker. 2007 b. g., Dynaformer–Nebraska Tornado, by Storm Cat. Owner: Armata Stable. Trainer: Tom Voss. Jockey: Peter Buchanan. 2011 record: 4-1-10, $18,200. Good second to Lake Placid in Parx Racing optional allowance but then fifth in Jonathan Kiser Novice and sixth in Michael G. Walsh Novice at Saratoga.
All Together. 2005 b. g., Danzig–Unify, by Farma Way. Owners: Andre W. Brewster and Sheila J. Williams. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Xavier Aizpuru. 2011 record: 5-1-2-2, $72,000. Always in the frame with a win, two seconds, and two thirds in five starts this year. Brackets win in Jonathan Kiser Novice at Saratoga on July 28 with third-place finishes in William Entenmann Novice and Michael G. Walsh Novice. Reigning novice champion was nipped at finish in last year’s Foxbrook.
Demonstrative. 2007 b. g., Elusive Quality–Loving Pride, by Quiet American. Owner: Jacqueline Ohrstrom. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. 2011 record: 7-2-4-1, $88,800. Scored biggest victory of his career in William Entenmann Novice, then was second in Walsh and Virginia Fall’s Dorothy Fred Smithwick on Oct. 1. Also won Foxfield Spring’s Daniel Van Clief Memorial. Was 2010 three-year-old champion.
Royal Rossi. 2006 b. g., Rossini–Princess Lea, by Stalwart. Owner: Hudson River Stables. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Brian Crowley. 2011 record: 7-2-0-0, $44,750. Won maiden race at Saratoga Open House in July and then scored a narrow victory in the Steeplechase Owners and Trainers Association Firestone Tire, an optional allowance, at Saratoga on Aug. 4.
Torlundy. 2005 gr. or ro. g., Monarchos–Jayhawk Judy, by Woodman. Owner: Silverton Hill LLC. Trainer: Leslie Young. Jockey: Joey Elliott. 2011 record: 0-0-0-0, $0. Making first start since winning Budweiser Imperial Cup at 2010 Aiken Spring meet.
Hope for Us All. 2006 b. g., Royal Anthem–Great Red Hope, by Red Ransom. Owner: Arcadia Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Willie Dowling. 2011 record: 3-0-0-0, $6,360. Picked up two fourth-place finishes in Saratoga optional allowances before being pulled up in Virginia Fall’s Dorothy Fred Smithwick on Oct. 1. Won 2009 Gladstone.
Pullyourfingerout (Ire). 2007 b. g., Indian Haven–Sandomierz, by Nordico. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Joseph Delozier III. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. 2011 record: 8-3-0-1, $20,940. Won novice chase at Worcester on Aug. 24 but pulled up in tougher race at Huntingdon on Oct. 2. Making first U.S. start.
History Boy. 2006 b. g., Grand Slam–Rare Blend, by Bates Motel. Owner: Timber Bay Farm. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Danielle Hodsdon. 2011 record: 0-0-0-0, $0. Making first start in nearly a year, after winning maiden race at Aiken Fall on Oct. 30, 2010. Previously an optional allowance winner on Southern California circuit after starting flat career in France.
Dictina’s Boy. 2002 gr. or ro. g., With Approval–Dictina (Fr), by Dictus. Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Tom Voss. Jockey: Paddy Young. 2011 record: 3-0-1-0, $15,000. Forced off course in the Dorothy Fred Smithwick at Virginia Fall. Finished fifth in Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1) after second in Temple Gwathmey (Gr. 3) in April.