Jack Fisher took his powerful team to the Steeplechase at Callaway on Saturday, and when the sun set on the Georgia race meet, the champion trainer had swept the day’s four jump races, including a dominant victory by Special Skills in the $75,000 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle.
Making his move approaching the final fences, Sheila Williams’ and Northwoods Stable’s Special Skills swept to the lead under Willie McCarthy and shrugged off a challenge by stablemate Ice It to win the novice stakes race by 8 1/2 lengths.
DASH Stable’s Ice It, last year’s three-year-old champion, finished nine lengths clear of Irv Naylor’s All That Rules in the field of seven.
Special Skills, a six-year-old Bernstein gelding, ran the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle’s 2 1/4 miles in 3:54.80 on turf rated as good.
Winner of Belmont Park’s $75,000 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 22, Special Skills added the $45,000 first-place money to his bankroll and now has 2016 earnings of $178,450.
The sweep of four Callaway jump races and one at the Montpelier Hunt Races gave Fisher a one-day total exceeding $120,000 in purses and propelled him to his second consecutive $1-million season.
Fisher already has exceeded his 2015 purses total and is within $80,000 of his all-time mark of $1,156,907, set in 2008. He is the only National Steeplechase Association trainer ever to post $1-million seasons.
McCarthy rode two other winners for Fisher, Woodslane Farm’s Sharp Numbers in a maiden timber race and Northwoods’ Signature Look in the Sport of Kings maiden hurdle.
Fisher’s other Callaway winner, Bruton Street-US’s Lemony Bay in an open timber race, was ridden by Sean McDermott, who tied sidelined Jack Doyle for the thrd spot in the jockey standings with 11 wins. Atop the leader board is Kieran Norris with 13 victories this year.
Moving into the second spot with 12 wins was reigning champion jockey Paddy Young, who had four wins at the Montpelier Hunt Races, including Michael A. Smith’s Cul Baire in the Noel Laing Handicap.