Nationbuilder and All Together, who finished a nose apart in the Foxbrook Supreme Hurdle, will renew their rivalry in the $75,000 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle, one of the highlights of the Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens on Saturday, Nov. 6.
On a busy weekend of racing leading up to the conclusion of the National Steeplechase Association’s 2010 season, a competitive field of steeplechase veterans will contest the $40,000 Noel Laing Stakes at the Montpelier Hunt Races in Virginia on Saturday, and timber racing will be featured on Sunday at the 76th annual Pennsylvania Hunt Cup in Unionville.
Callaway Gardens’ featured races, the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle for novice steeplechase horses and the $30,000 Crown Royal Stakes for fillies and mares, will be key contests in deciding year-end championships in their respective divisions, and both attracted highly competitive fields.
Five of the top seven finishers in the $100,000 Foxbrook at the Far Hills Races on Oct. 23 are scheduled to contest the 2 1/4-mile AFLAC Supreme Hurdle, a Sport of Kings series race limited to horses in their first years of competition over fences. Green Velvet, who wired Far Hills’ Peapack Stakes for fillies and mares, will meet several Peapack competitors in the Crown Royal.
Mary Ann Houghland’s Nationbuilder, trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard and ridden by Brian Crowley, took the Foxbrook with a late charge that put him in front of All Together at the last stride. Crowley will again be aboard Nationbuilder.
Owned by Sheila Williams and Andre Brewster, All Together had won a Monmouth Park allowance race on the flat on Sept. 25, and Xavier Aizpuru will ride the five-year-old Danzig gelding.
Jack Fisher, the reigning National Steeplechase Association champion trainer who handles All Together, also entered Mrs. S. K. Johnston Jr.’s Ambersham, who was fifth in the Foxbrook and will be ridden by Willie Dowling.
Sheppard, the National Steeplechase Association’s all-time trainer who leads the 2010 standings by wide margins, also nominated his Italian Wedding, who finished seventh in the Foxbrook. Danielle Hodsdon, who closed within one victory of leading jockey Paddy Young at the Aiken Fall Races in South Carolina on Oct. 30, will ride Italian Wedding.
Trainer Julie Gomena named Robbie Walsh to ride Oakwood Stable’s Country Cousin, who finished fourth in the Foxbrook in his first start since winning the National Hunt Cup at the Radnor Hunt Races in Malvern, Pa., on May 15.
Also in the field of seven is owner-trainer Michele Sanger’s Birthday Beau, who finished fourth in Monmouth Park’s Metcalf Memorial Hurdle on Sept. 25 after setting the early pace. Ross Geraghty again will be in the saddle. Mede Cahaba Stable’s Complete Zen enters from a maiden victory in a maiden race at the Virginia Fall Races in Middleburg on Oct. 3.
The Crown Royal, run in memory of steeplechase participant and supporter George Sloan, will test whether Jennifer Pitts’ Green Velvet can repeat her front-running, 5 1/4-length victory in the Peapack. Trainer Jazz Napravnik named Geraghty to ride the five-year-old Petionville mare. Also entered by Napravnik was Farah T Salute, who finished third in the Peapack. Aizpuru has the mount.
Veteran trainer Tom Voss will saddle Mark Dodson’s Moon Dolly, who finished second in the Peapack and will be ridden by Dowling.
Jody Petty will be aboard Jellyberry, who finished fourth in the Peapack after owner John E. Teas Jr. claimed her for $25,000 from a Parx Racing claiming race in Pennsylvania. Sheppard will have two runners in the 2 1/4-mile Crown Royal: Bill Pape’s The Manner Born, who finished seventh in the Peapack, and Pape’s Make Believe, who was pulled up. Hodsdon rides Make Believe, and Crowley will be on The Manner Born.
Competitive field entered for Noel Laing
Dictina’s Boy and The Price of Love will share the 150-pound high weight for the $40,000 Noel Laing, featured race of the 76th annual Montpelier Hunt Races on Saturday, Nov. 6. A strong field of seven veteran steeplechase horses was entered for the 2 1/2-mile race over the Montpelier Brush Course.
Trainer Tom Voss named champion jockey Paddy Young to ride Dictina’s Boy, who finished fifth in the Grand National (Gr.1) at the Far Hills Races on Oct. 23 in the silks of owner Riverdee Stable. Dictina’s Boy won the 2009 Appleton Stakes at Far Hills and was third in the Marcellus Frost Stakes at the Iroquois Steeplechase in Nashville on May 8.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Sheppard entered Bill Pape’s The Price of Love, who finished sixth in the A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 2) at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 5. Robbie Walsh rides.
Irvin Naylor’s Chess Board will be attempting to move up from a second-place finish in last year’s Noel Laing. In his most recent start, the seven-year-old English-bred gelding won an allowance-optional claiming race at the Virginia Fall Races in Middleburg on Oct. 2.
Naylor, making a strong bid to be the National Steeplechase Association’s 2010 champion owner by purse winnings, also will be represented by Decoy Daddy, who finished seventh in the Grand National in his U.S. debut. The Irish-bred gelding is now trained by Desmond Fogarty.
Karen B. Eyles’ Canardly currently is riding a two-race winning streak for trainer Edward Mulligan and will be ridden by Liam McVicar. The four-year-old Dynaformer gelding won a Morven Park claiming race from which he was claimed for $15,000 for Eyles, and he subsequently won an allowance race at the International Gold Cup meet in The Plains, Va., on Oct. 16.
Matt McCarron has the mount on owner-trainer Alicia Murphy’s Major Price, who finished fourth in the Ski Roundtop Cup at Shawan Downs in Maryland on Sept. 25. Carl Rafter will be aboard Julia Thieriot’s Fantastic Foe, who finished fifth behind Canardly in the International Gold Cup race.
Patriot’s Path meets Twill Do in Pennsylvania Hunt Cup
Patriot’s Path, the reigning timber champion and now riding a two-race winning streak, will meet up with this year’s Maryland Hunt Cup winner, Twill Do, in the $35,000 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup in Unionville on Sunday, Nov. 7. A strong field of nine timber horses was entered for the historic race over four miles.
Owned by Irvin S. Naylor and trained by Desmond Fogarty, Patriot’s Path most recently scored a devastating 32 3/4-length victory in the New Jersey Hunt Cup at the Far Hills Races in New Jersey on Oct. 23. Two weeks earlier, the ten-year-old Carnivalay gelding had rolled to a 10 3/4-length victory in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup in Geneseo, N.Y. He also finished third in the Virginia Gold Cup to Bubble Economy, the current leader of the timber division. Darren Nagle will ride Patriot’s Pride.
Entering the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup from the New York race is Lucy A. Goelet’s Twill Do, five-length winner of the Maryland Hunt Cup. The ten-year-old Yarrow Brae gelding was pulled up in the Genesee Valley Hunt Cup. Trainer William Meister named James Stierhoff, his Maryland Hunt Cup jockey, to ride.
Merriefield Farm’s Bon Caddo, who finished second in the Virginia Gold Cup and most recently was second in the International Gold Cup at The Plains, Va., on Oct. 16, will be ridden by Christopher Read.
Naylor, a York, Pa., resident who is making a strong push for the National Steeplechase Association’s leading-owner title, will have two other competitors in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, Meister-trained Albert’s Crossing and Gorgeous Charger.
Trainer Kathy N. McKenna will send out Armata Stable’s Haddix, third finisher in the New Jersey Hunt Cup and second in the Genesee Valley. Also entering from the Genesee Valley race were Athene Noctura Stable’s Plum Brush, who finished third, and the fourth finisher, Mrs. George Ohrstrom’s Professor Maxwell.
Completing the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup field is Donald Cochran’s The Other Me, who is looking for his first 2010 win for trainer Paddy Neilson.
Proceeds from the 76th annual Pennsylvania Hunt Cup benefit the Chester County Food Bank.
–Written by Don Clippinger