Two accomplished newcomers will take on leading members of America’s rising-star division in Saturday’s $100,000 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle at the 78th annual Iroquois Steeplechase.
The 2¼-mile Marcellus Frost is limited to novices, or horses in their first seasons of racing over fences, and it will be one of the supporting feature races leading up to the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois (Gr. 1). First post time is 1 p.m. CDT.
Leading Irish trainer Gordon Elliott has successfully invaded the United States, most recently with Grand National (Gr. 1) winner Jury Duty last fall. Prominent American owner Irv Naylor acquired Chief Justice for a U.S. campaign, and the four-year-old will be ridden by veteran Irish jumps jockey Davey Russell.
Chief Justice won his getaway race at England’s Aintree Race Course in a handicap hurdle on April 6. He had four victories last fall in a busy three-year-old season.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard will saddle Hudson River Farms’ Winston C, who also will be making his first U.S. start. He won a handicap at Kelso Race Course in March and was fifth in an Aintree stakes race on April 5. Thomas Garner has the mount.
Topping the U.S. contingent is Belisarius, a worthy second-place finisher to Calvin Houghland Iroquois contender Moscato in the Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2) on April 20. In his previous novice start, Belisarius won a division of the Far Hills Races’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle on Oct. 20.
Owned by Gary Barber, Brous Stable, and Wachtel Stable, Belisarius is trained by Kate Dalton and will be ridden by her husband, Bernie Dalton.
My Afleet, bred and owned by Jeffrey Amling and Charles Noell, closed hard to finish second in the Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase for novices, finishing 1 ½ lengths behind Calvin Houghland Iroquois contender Gibralfaro. Trainer Mark Beecher named Kieran Norris to a return ride.
Also coming out of the Queen’s Cup in Charlotte, N.C., on April 27 are two contenders from the stable of leading trainer Jack Fisher. Sheila Williams’ and Northwoods Stable’s Storm Team led at the last fence and finished third, and Riverdee Stable’s City Dreamer was three-quarters of a length behind Storm Team in fourth.
Current top jockey Michael Mitchell rides Storm Team, and Sean McDermott will be aboard City Dreamer.
Carrington Holdings’ 2018 novice stakes winner Boss Man will be making his first 2019 appearance in the Marcellus Frost. Trainer Arch Kingsley Jr. named Barry Foley to ride.
Here is the field for the $100,000 Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle in post-position order. The horses’ National Steeplechase Association ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
City Dreamer (Ire). 2014 ch. g., Casamento—Cadesia, by Cadeaux Genereux (GB). Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Redpender Stud (Ire). 2019 record: 1-0-0-0, $5,000. 2018 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $9,250. Opened 2019 with fourth in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Finished fifth in Belmont Park’s 2018 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, 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 before joining Fisher stable in summer 2018. (129)
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 record: 2-1-0-1, $31,000. 2018 record: 5-1-1-2, $30,120. Finished third after leading at last in 2019 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. (123)
Help From Heaven. 2012 ch. g., Divine Park—Harlan Helper, by Friends Lake. Owner: Virginia Lazenby Racing Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeders: Brereton C. Jones and Jimmy Blanton (Ky.) 2019 record: 1-0-0-1, $3,000. 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: No starts. Finished third in Queen’s Cup ratings handicap, his first start in more than 2½ years. Won Saratoga allowance hurdle in August 2016 and went to sidelines. Two-time winner on flat in Louisiana. (116)
Belisarius (Ire). 2011 b. g., Montjeu—Lasting Chance, by American Chance. Owner: Gary Barber, Brous Stable, and Wachtel Racing Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeders: Lynch Bages Ltd. And Camas Park Stud (Ire). 2019 record: 1-0-1-0, $13,500. 2018 NSA record: 6-2-1-2, $106,200. In 2019 debut, finished second in Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2). Won 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle by 6¼ lengths. Set all the pace and won 2018 Monmouth Park maiden hurdle by two lengths. Never has finished off the board in five jumps starts. (134)
Boss Man. 2010 ch. g., English Channel—Jenny Joy, by Acceptable. Owner: Carrington Holdings. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Barry Foley. Breeder: Kinsman Farm (Fla.) 2018 NSA record: 7-3-0-1, $113,250. Finished fourth in 2018 Aflac Supreme hurdle after being pulled up in Far Hills Foxbrook Champion Hurdle division. Won Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes after third in Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes at Saratoga. Won Saratoga allowance hurdle by front-running 2 1/4 lengths. Graduate of Jason Servis’ flat training operation scored his maiden victory over fences at the 2018 Queen’s Cup. (127)
Chief Justice (GB). 2015 b. g., Acclamation—Freedom Pass, by Gulch. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Gordon Elliott. Jockey: Davey Russell. Breeder: G. B. Partnership (GB). 2019 NSA record: No starts. Won his send-off race, a quality handicap race at Aintree on Grand National day. Tested at Cheltenham in Fred Winter Handicap and finished in midpack. Won three straight races as a three-year-old in 2018.
Winston C (Ire). 2014 b. g., Rip Van Winkle (Ire)—Pitirizza, by Machiavellian. Owner: Hudson River Farms. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Thomas Garner. Breeder: Patrick F. Kelly (Ire). 2019 NSA record: No starts. Won three straight starts in winter-spring season in England before fifth in Betway Top Hurdle at Aintree.
Barnacle Bill (Ire). 2012 gr. or ro. g., Big Bad Bob—Katch Me Katie, by Danehill. Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Irish National Stud (Ire). 2018 record: 2-1-0-1, $28,000. 2017 record: 5-1-2-0, $32,700. Won the 2018 Georgia Cup, a ratings handicap, by 15 3/4 lengths, then finished third in Marcellus Frost Champion Stakes. Toiled in the maiden hurdle ranks in 2017 and after two close seconds broke through for a front-running victory at the International Gold Cup. (122)
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: 1-0-1-0, $18,000. 2018 record: No starts. 2017 record: 4-2-1-0, $66,750. Closed boldly for second in 2019 Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Finished well-beaten fourth in Saratoga’s 2017 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. 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 Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices. Stakes winner on flat finished second in Saratoga’s John’s Call Stakes in final flat start. (125)