A maiden at the beginning of July, Bruton Street-US’s Snap Decision has risen to the top rungs of the National Steeplechase Association’s novice division, and he heads a talented group of 13 nominees to the $100,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at the Far Hills Races on Saturday, Oct. 19.
The 2½-mile Foxbrook attracted four nominees who would be making their first American starts. Two of them, Rocket Lad and The Holy One, also were nominated to the $450,000 Grand National (Gr. 1), America’s richest steeplechase race and the feature of the 99th annual Far Hills Races.
Bred by the Phipps Stable and trained by Shug McGaughey during his flat-racing career, Snap Decision has blossomed in trainer Jack Fisher’s stable. He finished second twice in the spring before a confident, front-running victory at Monmouth Park on July 4.
Fisher brought him back against other maiden winners at Saratoga Race Course, and the Hard Spun gelding drew away to a 38½-length victory on Aug. 14. He confirmed the quality of that win with a two-length score in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 18. Willie McCarthy has ridden him in all of his steeplechase starts.
Snap Decision is likely to have several serious challengers in the Foxbrook. Riverdee Stable’s City Dreamer, also trained by Fisher, won the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle in May and was fourth in the Entenmann Memorial.
Irv Naylor’s Chief Justice, fourth in the Marcellus Frost, finished third in the Entenmann for trainer Cyril Murphy. Also coming out of the Entenmann is KMSN Stable’s Sportswear, who finished fifth. A two-time winner over fences this spring, Sportswear is trained by Jonathan Sheppard.
Belisarius, winner of a Foxbrook division last year, is coming off a seventh-place finish in Belmont’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). Owned by Gary Barber, Brous Racing Stable, and Wachtel Stable, Belisarius previously finished third in Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup Handicap (Gr. 1) for trainer Kate Dalton.
Rocket Lad, trained by co-owner Emmet Mullins, and Colvin Ryan’s Days Without End are coming off recent maiden hurdle victories. Mullins sent out his Hurricane Run for a second-place finish in last year’s Grand National at the New Jersey course.
Gordon Elliott, who won last year’s Grand National with Jury Duty, nominated Crocodile Pockets Syndicate’s Lethal Steps to the Foxbrook. He won a Galway allowance hurdle on July 29. In 2017, Elliott sent over Zanjabeel for a Foxbrook victory in 2017, and the Grand National nominee was last year’s Eclipse Award winner as North America’s steeplechase champion.
Ricky Hendriks nominated Rosbrian Farm’s The Holy One, a handicap winner in April who most recently was a distant third in an allowance chase at Killarney. Trainer Hendriks also nominated Rosbrian’s Markhan, a maiden winner at the Iroquois meet.
Here are the nominees to the $100,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle in alphabetical order. The horses’ ratings are in parentheses at the end of their profiles.
Belisarius (Ire). 2011 b. g., Montjeu—Lasting Chance, by American Chance. Owner: Gary Barber, Brous Stable, and Wachtel Racing Stable. Trainer: Kate Dalton. Breeders: Lynch Bages Ltd. And Camas Park Stud (Ire). 2019 NSA record: 5-0-1-1, $28,500. 2018 NSA record: 6-2-1-2, $106,200. Finished third in Saratoga’s 2019 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) after 10th in A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1), then was seventh in Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1). In 2019 debut, finished second in Temple Gwathmey Handicap (Gr. 2), then was ninth in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle for novices. Won 2018 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle by 6¼ lengths. Set all the pace and won 2018 Monmouth Park maiden hurdle by two lengths. (130)
Chief Justice (GB). 2015 b. g., Acclamation—Freedom Pass, by Gulch. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Breeder: G. B. Partnership (GB). 2019 NSA record: 2-0-0-1, $12,500. Finished third in Belmont Park’s 2019 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. In U.S. debut for former trainer Gordon Elliott, closed well to be fourth in Iroquois Steeplechase’s 2019 Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes. 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. (133)
City Dreamer (Ire). 2014 ch. g., Casamento—Cadesia, by Cadeaux Genereux (GB). Owner: Riverdee Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Redpender Stud (Ire). 2019 record: 3-1-0-0, $68,750. 2018 NSA record: 2-0-0-0, $9,250. 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 before joining Fisher stable in summer 2018. (132)
Days Without End (Ire). 2013 b. g., Dubai Destination—Uncertain Affair (Ire), by Darshaan (GB). Owner: Colvin G. Ryan. Trainer: Dermot Weld. Breeder: M. Fahy (Ire). 2019 NSA record: No starts. Handicap winner on flat scored maiden victory over hurdles in most recent start at Bellewstown in Ireland. (116)
Maccabee. 2013 b. g., Street Hero—Sawgrass Express, by Roman Diplomat. Owner: Mason Hardaway Lampton. Trainer: Lilith Boucher. Breeder: Hartwell Farm (Ky.). 2019 NSA record: 5-3-0-0, $42,000. 2018 record: 7-1-0-1, $15,041. Scored back-to-back ratings handicap wins at 2019 Foxfield Spring and Radnor meets. Fell in Shawan Downs ratings handicap. Won Aiken Spring maiden claimer on a disqualification and then finished seventh in The Cup Runneth Over ratings handicap. (118)
Markhan. 2013 b. g., Birdstone—Royal Flush, by Smart Strike. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Breeders. Dr. Lawrence Opas, Dr. John Jain, and Dr. Frank Sinatra (Ky.) 2019 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $25,950. Repatriated for 2019 Iroquois maiden hurdle and drew clear to a 4 ½-length victory. Finished sixth in Saratoga allowance hurdle after rough trip. Had six wins on the flat in Ireland for trainer Gordon Elliott. (117)
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. Breeders. Jeffrey S. Amling and Charles Noell. 2019 record: 3-0-1-0, $21,000. 2018 record: No starts. 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)
Rocket Lad (Ire). 2013 b. g., Olden Times (GB)—Merry Moet (Ire), by Flemensfirth. Owners: Paul Byrne and Emmet Mullins. Trainer: Emmet Mullins. Breeder: Desmond Ellard (Ire). 2019 NSA record: No starts. In second start over fences, won a maiden hurdle at Gowran Park on Oct. 5. In first season of racing at age 6. (116)
Snap Decision. 2014 b. g., Hard Spun—Salute, by Unbridled. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Phipps Stable (Ky.) 2019 record: 5-3-2-0, $116,400. Won Belmont Park’s 2019 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes as odds-on favorite. Drew away impressively to win Saratoga allowance hurdle by 38½ lengths. Secured maiden win at Monmouth Park in July 2019 after second-place finishes at Queen’s Cup and Iroquois. Previously trained by Shug McGaughey and had two wins on the flat. (140)
Sportswear (GB). 2015 b. g., Fankel (GB)—Casual Look, by Red Ransom. Owner: KMSN Stable. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Breeder: W. S. Farish (GB). 2019 record: 3-2-0-0, $51,000. Finished fifth in Belmont Park’s 2019 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. Won first two starts over fences, a maiden score at 2019 Middleburg Spring and allowance victory at Iroquois. Failed as a flat horse for top trainers Chad Brown and Neil Howard. (122)
Storm Team. 2014 ch. g., Candy Ride (Arg)—Stormy Dixie, by Stormy Atlantic. Owner: Sheila Williams and Northwoods Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Breeder: Colts Neck Stables (Ky.). 2019 record: 4-1-0-1, $34,000. 2018 record: 5-1-1-2, $30,120. Finished fifth in Saratoga’s 2019 Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Faded to eighth in 2019 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. (122)
The Holy One (Ire). 2013 b. g., Court Cave (Ire)—Vickate (Ire), by Old Vic (GB). Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Breeder: Rosemary Swan (Ire). 2019 NSA record: No starts. 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)