Augustin Stables’ Port Morsbey surged to the lead at the next to last fence of the $75,000 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle on Saturday, November 5, and gained a hard-fought victory over All Together in the featured race of the Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, Ga.
At the Montpelier Hunt Races in Virginia, Irvin S. Naylor’s Decoy Daddy scored his second consecutive victory in the $40,000 Noel Laing Stakes. Bill Pape’s Sermon of Love took the second spot, with The Fields Stable’s Your Sum Man finishing third. Trained by Tom Foley and ridden by Kevin Tobin, Decoy Daddy ran the Noel Laing’s 2 1/2 miles in 5:56.60. A day later, Magalen O. Bryant’s G’Day G’Day broke through with a 6 3/4-length victory in the $35,000 Pennsylvania Hunt Cup in Unionville.
In the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle, Andre Brewster’s and Sheila J. Williams’ All Together was seeking his second straight win in the stakes race for novice steeplechasers in their first seasons of competition over fences. Ridden by Xavier Aizpuru, the consistent Danzig gelding led at the third to last fence but could not repel the charge by Port Morsbey, who took the inside path and drew clear after the final fence. All Together fought back in the late stages to cut the winner’s margin to a half-length behind the winner.
Jubilee Stables’ Wantan ran a strong race under Bernie Dalton and finished third, a length farther back, after contending for the lead over the final fences. Class Indian, who set the pace in the race’s middle stage, finished fourth in the field of seven.
Irvin S. Naylor’s Lake Placid, coming off a victory in the $75,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle for novices at the Far Hills Races in New Jersey on Oct. 22, set the early pace but went off course on the first circuit of Callaway Gardens course.
Port Morsbey, a five-year-old Pleasantly Perfect gelding trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard and ridden by Brian Crowley, ran the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle’s 2 1/4 miles over National Fences in 3:50.40 on firm turf.
Sheppard, who has trained for all-time leading National Steeplechase Association owner George Strawbridge Jr. for more than 35 years, moved into a tie with Tom Voss in the year’s competition for the trainer title by wins. Sheppard added to his lead by purses won over Jack Fisher, trainer of All Together.
With a well-timed ride, Dalton drove Magalen O. Bryant’s Well Fashioned to a decisive 5 1/4-length victory in the $30,000 Crown Royal Stakes for fillies and mares. Bill Pape’s The Manner Born, trained by Sheppard and ridden by Crowley, set most of the pace in the 2 1/4-mile race and held second over Sheppard’s Cubist, who finished third with Danielle Hodsdon. Naylor’s Lonesome Nun took fourth.
Trained by Doug Fout, Well Fashioned won her second race of the year, following a maiden score at Colonial Downs on June 12. She subsequently finished second in the $70,000 Mrs. Ogden Phipps Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on Aug. 11. She ran the Crown Royal’s distance in 3:54.60.
Bryant’s Royal Fling Shot, trained by Sheppard and ridden by Crowley, took the lead over the last fence of the $25,000 Columbus Bank and Trust Maiden Hurdle and drew clear from early pacesetter Ed’s Big Bet en route to a 1 1/2-length victory. With the victory, Sheppard took the lead in the year’s trainer standings by wins. Ed’s Big Bet, owned by Jubilee Stables and trained by Ted Thompson, held second over Naylor’s Memorial Maniac. Royal Fling Shot ran the Columbus Bank’s 2 1/4 miles in 3:55.40.
Pennsylvania Hunt Cup
Trained by Doug Fout, G’Day G’Day’s won the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup in 9:23.40 on a course rated as firm. The victory in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup was his second on the Unionville course, following a win in the Arthur O. Choate Memorial a year earlier. In his previous start, the homebred Eastern Echo gelding had finished third in the International Gold Cup in Virginia on Oct. 15.
For the second consecutive year, Merriefield Farm’s Bon Caddo finished second, and the $6,300 purse award may be enough to give the 2011 timber title to the Virginia Gold Cup winner. His 2011 purses total $73,500. Maryland Hunt Cup winner Private Attack, who finished sixth in the Pennsylvania Hunt Cup, is second with $65,800 in 2011 earnings.
Paddy Young rode G’Day G’Day and Choate winner Mussiecoocoo for trainer Tom Voss, who moved into a tie with Jonathan Sheppard for the trainer title by wins. Each has 14.