A highly competitive field of nine remained intact after scratches for Saturday’s $75,000 Aflac Supreme Hurdle, the featured race of the 35th annual Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens.
The Aflac Supreme Hurdle highlights the National Steeplechase Association’s rising-stars division for novices, or horses in their first seasons of racing over fences. The program offers $175,000 in purses at the Pine Mountain, Ga., course and drew full fields for the five races, with a minimum of seven starters per race after scratches. First post time is noon.
Weights for the 2¼-mile Aflac Supreme Hurdle are determined by age and number of victories. Hudson River Farms’ Iranistan, a five-year-old who is the reigning novice champion, carries the 159-pound highweight because of his three victories last year, including a romp in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle.
The Einstein gelding subsequently placed in two Grade 1 races at Saratoga Race Course, a second in the A. P. Smithwick Memorial and third in the New York Turf Writers Cup, before going to the sidelines in the fall of 2018.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard brought him back in a tough spot, the Far Hills Races’ $450,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) on Oct. 19, when he set the early pace and was pulled up. Darren Nagle, who has ridden Iranistan in all of his jump starts, again will be in the saddle.
Among his opponents will be the winner of this year’s Marcellus Frost, Riverdee Stable’s City Dreamer. Trained by Jack Fisher, City Dreamer most recently finished fifth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Jack Doyle, who had his choice of three mounts at entry time, will be in the saddle.
Fisher, the year’s leading trainer by wins and earnings, also will send out Sheila Williams’ and Northwoods Stable’s Storm Team, who finished third in the Foxbrook. Michael Mitchell has the mount.
Trainer Ricky Hendriks will saddle Crocodile Pockets Syndicate’s Lethal Steps and Rosbrian Farm’s The Holy One. The Holy One was pulled up in the Grand National and will be ridden by Willie McCarthy. A four-year-old, Lethal Steps most recently finished third in the International Gold Cup’s David L. “Zeke” Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 2) on Oct. 26. Gerard Galligan has a return call.
Kieran Norris will ride Jeffrey Amling’s and Merriefield Farm’s homebred My Afleet, who most recently finished fifth in Far Hills’ Appleton ratings handicap for trainer Mark Beecher.
Local interests will be represented by Maccabee, who is owned by Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens Chairman Mason Hardaway Lampton. Trained by Lilith Boucher, Maccabee ripped through three victories in the spring and finished seventh in the Appleton. Richard Boucher, the trainer’s husband and Maccabee’s regular rider, has the mount.
Here is the field for the $75,000 Aflac Supreme Hurdle in post-position order. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
The Holy One (Ire). 2013 b. g., Court Cave (Ire)—Vickate (Ire), by Old Vic (GB). Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Rosemary Swan (Ire). 2019 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $0. Pulled up in Far Hills’ 2019 Grand National (Gr. 1), his U.S. debut. Won a modest hurdle handicap in April and in most recent start finished in a dead-heat for third in a steeplechase allowance in August. (127)
Elucidation (Ire). 2014 b. g., Oasis Dream (GB)—Mimalia, by Silver Hawk. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Barry Foley. Breeder: Niarchos Family (Ire). 2019 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $1,200. 2018 record: 3-2-0-0, $45,000. Finished fifth in 2019 Shawan Downs ratings handicap after seventh in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Showed promise in fall of 2018 with maiden hurdle win at Shawan Downs and allowance hurdle victory at International Gold Cup. (119)
Lethal Steps (GB). 2015 gr. g., Lethal Force (Ire)—Tanda Tula (Ire), by Alhaarth (Ire). Owner: Crocodile Pockets Syndicate. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeder: Seaton Partnership (GB). 2019 NSA record: 2-0-0-1, $4,500. Finished eighth in Far Hills’ 2019 Harry Harris Stakes as even-money favorite, then was third in International Gold Cup’s David Semmes Memorial (Gr. 2). Won hurdle maiden in April 2019 and later won a Galway allowance hurdle at 10-to-1 odds. (129)
My Afleet. 2011 gr. or ro. g., Afleet Alex—My Own Story, by Lasting Approval. Owners: Jeffrey S. Amling and Merriebelle Stable. Trainer: Mark Beecher. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeders. Jeffrey S. Amling and Charles Noell. 2019 record: 3-0-1-0, $23,000. 2018 record: No starts. Finished fifth in Far Hills’ 2019 Appleton ratings handicap. Closed boldly for second in 2019 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase, then was sixth in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle. Made a successful jumps debut with 34 1/2-length victory in 2017 Tryon Block House maiden hurdle, then won Virginia Gold Cup allowance hurdle before second in Frost. Stakes winner on flat finished second in Saratoga’s John’s Call Stakes in final flat start. (123)
City Dreamer (Ire). 2014 ch. g., Casamento—Cadesia, by Cadeaux Genereux (GB). Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Redpender Stud (Ire). 2019 record: 4-1-0-0, $72,750. 2018 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $9,250. Finished fifth in Far Hills’ 2019 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Won Iroquois Steeplechase’s 2019 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle after fourth in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase, then was fourth in Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. Finished fifth in 2018 Entenmann, his U.S. debut, then was fourth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division. Won two English juvenile hurdles in September 2017 and had been competitive in modest handicap company. (131)
Iranistan. 2014 dk. b. or br. g., Einstein (Brz)—Miss Vindictive, by Stephen Got Even. Owner: Hudson River Stables. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Darren Nagle. Breeder: Crossed Sabres Farm (Ky.) 2019 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2018 NSA record: 5-3-1-1, $145,000. Champion novice 2018. In first 2019 start, pulled up in Grand National (Gr. 1) after leading early. Finished game second in Saratoga’s 2018 A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), then was third in New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), while favored in both. Won 2018 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices by six lengths. Skipped maiden ranks and won allowance hurdles at Carolina Cup and Middleburg Spring to begin 2018 season. Scored maiden flat victory at Delaware Park in July 2018. (129)
Maccabee. 2013 b. g., Street Hero—Sawgrass Express, by Roman Diplomat. Owner: Mason Hardaway Lampton. Trainer: Lilith Boucher. Jockey: Richard Boucher. Breeder: Hartwell Farm (Ky.). 2019 NSA record: 6-3-0-0, $42,000. 2018 record: 7-1-0-1, $15,041. Finished seventh in Far Hills’ Appleton ratings handicap. Scored back-to-back ratings handicap wins at 2019 Foxfield Spring and Radnor meets. Lost rider in Shawan Downs ratings handicap. Won Aiken Spring maiden claimer on a disqualification and then finished seventh in The Cup Runneth Over ratings handicap. (117)
Big Bend. 2014 b. g., Union Rags—Lenatareese, by Broad Brush. Owner: Kinross Farm. Trainer: Neil Morris. Jockey: Graham Watters. Breeder: Daniel S. Burke and Kathleen Schweizer (Ky.) 2019 NSA record: 2-1-1-0, $26,100. Won maiden hurdle at 2019 Virginia Fall meet and then was second in International Gold Cup allowance hurdle. (117)
Storm Team. 2014 ch. g., Candy Ride (Arg)—Stormy Dixie, by Stormy Atlantic. Owner: Sheila Williams and Northwoods Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Michael Mitchell. Breeder: Colts Neck Stables (Ky.). 2019 NSA record: 5-1-0-2, $44,000. 2018 record: 5-1-1-2, $30,120. Finished third in Far Hills’ 2019 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Finished fifth in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Faded to eighth in Marcellus Frost at Iroquois Steeplechase after third in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Kicked off 2019 season with three-length win in Carolina Cup allowance hurdle. Won a maiden hurdle at 2018 Foxfield Fall and was second in Callaway flat race. Finished third in Monmouth Park maiden hurdle after being pulled up in Radnor maiden hurdle. (124)