Storm Team set the pace from the start of the Steeplechase at Callaway Gardens’ $75,000 Aflac Supreme Hurdle and turned back two challenges in the stretch to claim a one-length victory over City Dreamer on Saturday.
Michael Mitchell rode the winner and pulled into a tie for the year’s jockey title with Jack Doyle, who was aboard City Dreamer. Each has 20 victories for the year.
Jack Fisher trained both Storm Team, owned by Sheila Williams and Northwoods Stable, and Riverdee Stable’s City Dreamer to the top spots in the year’s final stakes race for novices, or horses in their first seasons of racing over fences.
Maccabee, an overachiever owned by Steeplechase at Callaway Chairman Mason Hardaway Lampton, finished third, a length behind City Dreamer, and Iranistan was fourth, a half-length farther back.
On a Georgia race course that was favoring speed, Mitchell pushed to the lead at the start with Storm Team, a Candy Ride five-year-old who had finished third in the Far Hills Races’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle for novices on Oct. 19.
Hudson River Farms’ Iranistan, the reigning novice champion who is coming back after more than a year on the sidelines, pressed Storm Team’s pace throughout and challenged him for the lead at the last fence. By no means done, Storm Team and Mitchell quickly fought back and pulled away as Iranistan began to tire.
City Dreamer, winner of the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Champion Hurdle in May and fifth in the Foxbrook, mounted a strong attack in the stretch, but Storm Team had plenty in reserve and maintained his lead to the finish line.
Maccabee, a maiden claiming winner in the spring, moved up into the top three on the final run down the backstretch and ran on well to the finish line under Richard Boucher to claim third money by a half-length over Iranistan.
Storm Team ran the Aflac Supreme Hurdle’s 2¼ miles in 4:00 1/5 on turf rated as good.
Storm Team collected his second victory of the year in the Aflac Supreme Hurdle. He had set all the pace in a Carolina Cup allowance hurdle on March 30 and won by three lengths under Doyle.