Sheila Williams’ and Northwoods Stables’ Special Skills, a confident winner of a Saratoga handicap last month, heads a strong Jack Fisher-trained trio for Belmont Park’s $75,000 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Thursday.
Ridden by Paddy Young, Special Skills drew clear to a two-length victory after shadowing the early pace in the Aug. 30 handicap. Special Skills will be stepping up to a 2 1/4-mile distance from the Saratoga race’s 2 1/16 miles. Young has a return call.
Fisher, the reigning champion trainer who also leads this year’s standings, also will send out DASH Stable’s Ice It and Gil Johnston’s Dye Fore. Ice It, last year’s three-year-old champion, won the Atlanta Steeplechase’s Georgia Cup, an optional allowance hurdle, and then was second in the Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at the Iroquois Steeplechase in May. Sean McDermott will ride.
Dye Fore, pulled up in the Marcellus Frost, will be ridden by Alice Mills, an England-based jockey who will be riding for Fisher for the remainder of the National Steeplechase Association season.
Mrs. Johnston also will be represented by Share Out, trained by Todd Wyatt, and Richard Valentine-trained Miguel Grau. Share Out had a third in a Saratoga allowance hurdle, and Miguel Grau won a Suffolk Downs Ratings Handicap easily before finishing fifth in a Saratoga handicap on Aug. 3. Jack Doyle rides Share Out, and Willie McCarthy has the call on Miguel Grau.
Coming into the Entenmann from Saratoga victories are Rosbrian Farm’s Detroit Blues and Virginia Lazenby’s Hardrock Eleven. In his first U.S. jumps start for trainer Ricky Hendriks, Detroit Blues won a Saratoga allowance hurdle by 2 1/4 lengths over Hardrock Eleven on Aug. 17. Hardrock Eleven, trained by Doug Fout, came back to win a Saratoga allowance hurdle on Sept. 1.
Ross Geraghty picks up the mount on Detroit Blues, and Brendan Crowley returns on Hardrock Eleven.
Completing the field is Irv Naylor’s maiden claiming winner Aquies, who has shown promise on the flat over the summer. Trainer Kathy Neilson tabbed Gerard Galligan to ride.
In the Entenmann, the final two fences in the stretch will not be jumped, and the field will have a five-furlong run from the last of nine fences.
Here is the field for the 2 1/4-mile William Entenmann Memorial Novice Hurdle Stakes. The National Steeplechase Association rating for each starter is in parentheses at the end of the horse’s profile.
Miguel Grau. 2010 b. g., City Zip—Zuri Ridge, by Cox’s Ridge. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: Sea Horse Breeders (Ky.) 2016 record: 4-1-0-1, $27,350. 2015 record: 6-1-1-1, $34,200. Won Suffolk Downs Ratings Handicap by 9 3/4 lengths, then finished fifth in Saratoga handicap. Finished fourth in 2016 Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle, then third in Virginia Gold Cup allowance hurdle. (120)
Hardrock Eleven. 2010 gr. or ro. g., Rock Hard Ten—Stark Beauty, by Unbridled’s Song. Owner: Virginia Lazenby. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Brendan Crowley. Breeders: Farm III Enterprises and Off the Hook Partners (Fla.) 2016 NSA record: 5-1-1-0, $56,700. 2015 record: 6-1-1-2, $53,350. Won Saratoga allowance hurdle for second straight year in 2016. Finished fourth in 2016 Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at Iroquois Steeplechase, then stayed well for second in Saratoga allowance hurdle. Began 2016 with sixth in Carolina Cup, then was pulled up in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Formerly trained by owner’s late brother, David P. Banks, and won an Evangeline Downs optional allowance flat race in 2014. (121)
Dye Fore. 2011 dk. b. or br. g., Giant’s Causeway—Homebound, by Dixie Union. Owner: Mrs. S. K. Johnston Jr. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Alice Mills. Breeder: Joseph Allen (Ky.) 2016 record: 3-0-0-0, $0. 2015 record: 5-2-0-0, $37,350. Pulled up in 2016 Carolina Cup and Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at Iroquois Steeplechase, then finished seventh in Saratoga handicap. Concluded 2015 season with win in Colonial Cup Ratings Handicap division. Maiden winner on flat in France won Monmouth Park maiden race over hurdles. (116)
Share Out. 2008 b. g., Empire Maker—Yoursmineours, by Belong to Me. Owner: Gillian Johnston. Trainer: Todd Wyatt. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Mr. and Mrs. John R. Williams (Ky.) 2016 record: 3-0-0-2, $9,000. 2015 record: No starts. Finished third in Saratoga allowance hurdle. Finished third in 2016 Block House optional allowance hurdle after seventh in a Ratings Handicap at Middleburg Spring. Won maiden hurdle at 2014 Virginia Gold Cup. (113)
Aquies. 2012 b. g., Artie Schiller—Quies, by Quiet American. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeders: Mr. and Mrs. M. Roy Jackson (Ky.) 2016 NSA record: 4-1-3-0, $18,000. 2015 record: 4-0-1-0, $3,900. Won 2016 Block House maiden claimer by 2 1/2 lengths against a short field, then was second in Willowdale claimer. Finished second in Stoneybrook and Foxfield maiden claimers. Had winning summer on the flat. (110)
Ice It. 2012 gr. or ro. g., Tapit—Spice Island, by Tabasco Cat. Owner: DASH Stable. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Qatar Bloodstock (Ky.) 2016 record: 2-1-1-0, $34,500. 2015 record: 3-1-0-0, $18,600. Won 2016 Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle impressively, then second in Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at Iroquois Steeplechase. Won Far Hills’ Gladstone Hurdle to lock up 2015 three-year-old championship. Fell on the flat in Colonial Cup’s Raymond G. Woolfe Memorial. (118)
Special Skills. 2010 dk. b. or br. g., Bernstein—Kentucky Whisper, by Southern Halo. Owner: Sheila Williams and Northwood Stables. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Paddy Young. Breeder: Sierra Farm (Ky.) 2016 record: 5-1-1-1, $66,250. 2015 record: 3-2-0-0, $45,000. Won 2016 Saratoga handicap after third in similar race. Finished second in 2016 Carolina Cup, then fourth in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase. Pulled up in Fair Hill’s Valentine Memorial. Closed his 2015 season with two victories, a maiden win at Suffolk Downs and an allowance hurdle score at the International Gold Cup. (125)
Detroit Blues (GB). 2010 ch. g., Tobougg (Ire)—Blue Missy, by Swain (Ire). Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: R. W. Huggins (GB). 2016 NSA record: 1-1-0-0, $39,000. Won U.S. jumps debut in Saratoga allowance hurdle after second in Parx flat race for hurdlers. Won maiden hurdle at Fontwell in England in May 2015. (120)