Woodslane Farm’s Overwhelming edged past his pacesetting stablemate Broxbourne at the last fence of the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle and won a hard-fought battle to the finish line to prevail by a half-length in Saturday’s featured race of the 31st annual Steeplechase at Callaway in Pine Mountain, Ga.
Champion trainer Jack Fisher was responsible for the first three finishers when Syros took the third spot, 4 1/2 lengths behind Broxbourne. Both Broxbourne and Syros are owned by Gil Johnston. Rosbrian Farm’s Long House Saint finished fourth, and S. Bruce Smart Jr.’s Dai Bando was fifth in his U.S. debut.
Ridden by Sean McDermott, Overwhelming ran the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle’s 2 1/4 miles in 4:19.80 on soft turf.
Connor Hankin sent Broxbroune to the lead at the start, with Overwhelming stalking his pace on the Georgia course. McDermott moved Overwhelming at the next to last fence and engaged a game Broxbourne before jumping to the lead at the last fence. He edged away slightly as the dueling leaders neared the finish line.
The AFLAC Supreme Hurdle was Overwhelming’s third victory of the year for Woodslane’s Lauren and Rene Woolcott. He easily won a Saratoga allowance hurdle in late July and won Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 24. The AFLAC Supreme Hurdle’s $45,000 first-place purse raised the five-year-old Hard Spun gelding’s 2015 earnings to $136,300.
Overwhelming also will take home the first-place money from the new Sport of Kings Bonus, which awarded points based on finish positions in Sport of Kings maiden races and novice stakes. Overwhelming’s two victories in novice stakes gave him 48 points, six points more than Syros. Gary Barber’s African Oil, the now-inactive Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes winner, finished third with 39 points. The Sport of Kings Bonus money is expected to total approximately $50,000, with 60% going to the winner, 30% for second, and 10% for third.