Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard locked up the 2014 novice title at the Far Hills Races when Rod Moorhead’s All the Way Jose won the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, and American Steeplechasing’s all-time leading horseman has a candidate for this year’s championship in Lune de Caro, who is undefeated over fences.
A Texas-bred owned by Tamara McSorley, Lune de Caro tops a large field for Saturday’s $100,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Moorland Farm in Far Hills, N.J. The richest stop on the National Steeplechase Association circuit, Far Hills offers $600,000 in purses and is highlighted by the $300,000 Grand National (Gr. 1).
A six-year-old Cozzene gelding, Lune de Caro will face the biggest test of his career from a group that includes an imposing trio of nominees from the barn of current champion trainer Jack Fisher.
Lune de Caro began his jumps career in May with a victory at the High Hope Steeplechase in Lexington, Ky. In July, he won a Ratings Handicap at Parx Racing near Philadelphia, and he was clearly the best in a $65,000 optional allowance hurdle at Saratoga Race Course in August. Willie McCarthy has the mount.
Fisher, who is second in the all-time standings and well on his way toward a fourth straight trainer championship, entered Gil Johnston’s Syros, Edith Dixon’s Schoodic, and Bruton Street-US’s Scorpiancer.
Syros returns to novice competition after two sixth-place finishes in Grade 1 races, Saratoga Race Course’s New York Turf Writers Cup and Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap. Schoodic finished third in Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes, and Scorpiancer dominated a Ratings Handicap at Shawan Downs on Sept. 26.
Sean McDermott rides Syros, Paddy Young will be aboard Schoodic, and Connor Hankin has the mount on Scorpiancer, a recent import
Also entering the Foxbrook from the Entenmann Memorial are The Fields Stable’s Wanganui (fourth), Rosbrian Farm’s Long House Saint (fifth), Beverly R. Steinman’s Perfect Union (sixth), and Artie’s Jasper (fell).
Leading owner Irv Naylor entered a newcomer to American racing, Jack Frost. Bred and previously owned by Queen Elizabeth II, Jack Frost completed the England phase of his career by winning a novice hurdle in April. Ross Geraghty will ride.
Jimmy Day had a ready-to-run stable at Saratoga and collected three victories. The Virginia-based trainer entered two of his Saratoga winners, Magalen O. Bryant’s Plated and Bruce Smart Jr.’s Bonded, to the 2 1/2-mile Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. Bernie Dalton rides Bonded, and Sean McDermott has the call on Plated.
Richard Valentine, who trains Artie’s Jasper for Never Better Stables and John Padden, also entered Gil Johnston’s Miguel Grau, third to Bonded in a Saratoga allowance hurdle on Aug. 13. Jack Doyle has the mount on Miguel Grau, and Robbie Walsh rides Artie’s Jasper.
Here is the field for the $100,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle in post-position order.
Long House Saint (Ire). 2009 b. g., Antonius Pius—Mintaka (Ire), by Fairy King. Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Steve Pateman. Breeder: John Duggan (Ire). 2015 record: 3-0-0-0, $3,000. 2014 NSA record: 2-2-0-0, $44,100. Finished fifth in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 24. Fell in Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase, his 2015 debut, and in Iroquois’ Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes. Landed in America and immediately won allowance hurdles at Far Hills, N.J. and Colonial Cup meet in Camden, S.C. Before export, scored maiden victory over fences in August at Kilbeggan Race Course in Ireland.
Lune de Caro. 2009 gr. or ro. g., Cozzene—Widow’s Mite (Ire), by Sadler’s Wells. Owner: Tamara McSorley. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. Breeder: La Bahia Stud (Tex.) 2015 NSA record: 3-3-0-0, $72,000. Undefeated over fences, including Saratoga allowance win on Aug. 19 and Ratings Hurdle at Parx on July 14. Won maiden hurdle at High Hope shortly after winning flat maiden at Cincinnati’s Belterra Park on May 3.
Schoodic. 2010 b. g., Tiznow—Aunt Henny, by Hennessy. Owner: Edith R. Dixon. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Paddy Young. Breeder: Edith R. Dixon (Ky.) 2015 record: 3-0-2-1, $48,000. 2014 record: 6-2-0-1, $67,500. Finished third in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 24. Kicked off 2015 season with second in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase near Charlotte, N.C., on April 25, then was second in Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1). Pulled up in 2014 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills, N.J. Three-year-old champion of 2013.
Bonded (Ire). 2007 b. g., Oasis Dream (GB)—Lovealoch, by Lomond. Owner: Bruce Smart Jr. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. Breeders: Michael Woodlock and Seamus Kennedy (Ire). 2015 NSA record: 2-1-0-0, $39,000. 2014 record: No starts. Won Saratoga allowance hurdle in August. Fell over another horse in the Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes at the Iroquois Steeplechase on May 11. Also won Great Meadow flat race in September.
Jack Frost. 2010 ch. g., Midnight Legend—Bella Macrae, by Bustino. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: The Queen (GB). 2015 NSA record: No starts. Making first U.S. start after purchase from Nicky Henderson’s yard. In final start for Queen Elizabeth II, won a novice hurdle at Ffos Las in April. Won his first three starts in 2014.
Wanganui. 2008 ch. g., Love of Money–Distant Drumroll, by Eastern Echo. Owner: The Fields Stable. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss. Jockey: Gus Dahl. Breeder: Mimi Voss (Md.) 2015 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $3,750. 2014 record: 3-0-1-0, $14,200. In only 2015 start over fences, finished fourth in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Novice Stakes. Finished second by a nose in Suffolk Downs flat race for hurdlers. Finished second in Saratoga allowance hurdle to close out his 2014 season. Champion three-year-old in 2011.
Perfect Union. 2011 dk. b. or br. g., Purim—Blue Northern, by Top Account. Owner: Beverly Steinman. Trainer: Doug Fout. Jockey: Kieran Norris. Breeder: Nelson E. Clemmons (Ky.). 2015 record: 5-0-2-1, $21,950. 2014 record: 3-1-1-1, $21,500. Finished sixth in Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 24. Was second in Saratoga allowance hurdle on July 29, then fell in similar race on Sept. 3. Finished second in Middleburg Spring optional allowance on April 15 and was third in Radnor allowance hurdle on May 16. Three-year-old champion last year after winning Far Hills’ Gladstone.
Miguel Grau. 2010 b. g., City Zip—Zuri Ridge, by Cox’s Ridge. Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Jack Doyle. Breeder: Sea Horse Breeders (Ky.) 2015 record: 5-1-1-1, $34,200. Finished third in a Saratoga allowance hurdle on Aug. 13. First-year hurdler broke through for a 10 1/2-length victory in a Parx maiden hurdle on July 14. Also had a second at Iroquois Steeplechase on May 9.
Syros. 2008 b. g., Dynaformer—Meridiana (Ger), by Lomitas (GB). Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeders: Jon and Sarah Kelly (Ky.) 2015 record: 5-1-1-0, $71,250. 2014 NSA record: 9-2-3-2, $90,600. Finished sixth in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Sept. 24 and in Saratoga’s New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1) on Aug. 27. Won Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes before fourth in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes. Finished a closing second in the 2015 Carolina Cup. Closed out 2014 with second-place finishes in the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle and AFLAC Supreme Hurdle. Had a win and third in Saratoga allowance hurdles in 2014.
Artie’s Jasper. 2009 b. g., Artie Schiller—Slew’s Peak, by Peaks and Valleys. Owner: Never Better Stables and John Padden. Trainer: Richard Valentine. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. Breeder: Never Better Stables (Ky.) 2015 record: 1-0-0-0, $0. 2014 record: 2-1-0-0, 12,900. Fell in Belmont’s William Entenmann Novice Stakes on Sept. 24. Returning to the races after more than a year absence. Pulled up in Monmouth Park allowance hurdle after winning High Hope maiden hurdle in May 2014.
Scorpiancer (Ire). 2009 b. g., Scorpion (Ire)—Janebailey, By Silver Patriarch. Owner: Bruton Street-US. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: Connor Hankin. Breeder: Mary O’Connor (Ire). 2015 NSA record: 1-1-0-0, $15,000. Dominant winner of Shawan Downs Ratings Handicap on Sept. 26. Made his U.S. debut with a fourth-place finish in a flat race for hurdlers at Suffolk Downs on Sept. 5. Lightly raced six-year-old won maiden over hurdles in January at Ludlow.
Plated. 2009 b. g., Tiznow—Imaginary Gold, by Mr. Prospector. Owner: Magalen O. Bryant. Trainer: Jimmy Day. Jockey: Sean McDermott. Breeder: Overbrook Farm (Ky.) 2015 NSA record: 4-1-1-2, $53,100. 2014 record: 2-1-0-1, $20,000. Won Saratoga allowance hurdle on Aug. 17 before third in Great Meadow flat race in September. Finished third in tough Fair Hill Ratings Handicap Hurdle on May 23. Won maiden victory last fall at International Gold Cup.