Jack Fisher, poised to claim his third straight leading trainer championship, will send out owner Gil Johnston’s Syros for Saturday’s $50,000 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle, the co-feature of the 30th annual Steeplechase at Callaway. First post time at the Pine Mountain, Ga., course is 1 p.m.
Also on the program is the $50,000 Crown Royal, a 2 1/4-mile allowance hurdle headed by 2012 female champion Cat Feathers, who is owned and trained by Kate Dalton. Also in the Crown Royal field is Johnston’s 2012 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle winner, Dahoud.
The AFLAC Supreme Hurdle showcases American Steeplechasing’s rising stars in the novice division, which is limited to horses making their first starts over fences. Syros ranks as the favorite in the 2 1/4-mile race for novices based on his solid second-place finish in the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far Hills, N.J., on Oct. 18. Fisher named Sean McDermott to ride.
Trainer Arch Kingsley Jr. will saddle Sue Sensor’s Top Striker, impressive winner of the Carolina Cup in March. Top Striker finished off the board this past summer in two Saratoga Race Course stakes races, the Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes and the Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Bernie Dalton takes over the mount.
Racing Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard entered Bill Pape’s Powerofone and his own One Giant Step. The latter finished fourth in the Foxbrook after an extended layoff, and Powerofone was pulled up in Virginia Fall’s W. Gary Baker Memorial Stakes on Oct. 4. Robbie Walsh will ride One Giant Step, and leading jockey Willie McCarthy will be aboard Powerofone.
Elizabeth Voss Murray will saddle Robert A. Kinsley’s Tempt Me Alex, who was pulled up in the Foxbrook. Gus Dahl has the mount.
Who do you like in the AFLAC Supreme Hurdle?
Top Striker. 2009 b. g., Van Nistelrooy–Two’s Cozy, by Cozzene. Owner: Sue Sensor. Trainer: Arch Kingsley Jr. Jockey: Bernie Dalton. 2014 NSA record: 5-1-0-1, $37,250. 2013 record: 3-1-1-0, $17,700. 4-1 odds. Weakened late to finish seventh in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 24 and sixth in Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes on Aug. 14. Scored impressive victory in Carolina Cup in his 2014 debut before third in Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase on April 26.
One Giant Step. 2006 b. g., Mojave Moon—Gemini’s Gem, by Gemini Dreamer. Owner-trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Robbie Walsh. 2014 record: 1-0-0-0, $5,000. 2013 record: No starts. 5-1 odds. Finished fourth in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle on Oct. 18, his first start since finishing fourth in 2011 Michael G. Walsh Novice Stakes. Finished second in 2011 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes.
Syros. 2008 b. g., Dynaformer—Meridiana (Ger), by Lomitas (GB). Owner: Gil Johnston. Trainer: Jack Fisher. Jockey: David Byrne. 2014 NSA record: 8-2-2-2, $81,600. 2013 record: 3-0-0-1, $3,250. 7-5 odds. Ran on well to finish second in Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle on Oct. 18. Finished fifth in Belmont Park’s $75,000 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 18 after win in Saratoga allowance hurdle. Also finished third in Saratoga allowance hurdle on July 23. Won Virginia Gold Cup maiden claimer by more than 30 lengths on May 3, then was second in Jay Trump starter allowance hurdle at the High Hope Steeplechase on May 18. Won a Belmont Park $35,000 claimer on June 15.
Tempt Me Alex. 2009 b. g., Afleet Alex—Attemptress, by Meadowlake. Owner: Robert A. Kinsley. Trainer: Elizabeth Voss Murray. Jockey: Gus Dahl. 2014 record: 4-1-0-1, $23,500. 2013 record: 6-1-2-1, $24,900. 8-1 odds. Pulled up in Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes on July 24 and Far Hills’ Foxbrook Champion Hurdle on Oct. 18. Won Iroquois Steeplechase’s Bright Hour Stakes by more than four lengths on May 10. In first start of the year, finished third in Foxfield Spring’s Daniel Van Clief Memorial optional allowance hurdle. Won maiden victory in final 2013 start, at the Steeplechase at Callaway in Georgia.
Powerofone. 2009 b. g., A.P. Indy—Byzantine, by Quiet American. Owner: William L. Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Willie McCarthy. 2014 record: 2-0-0-0, $0. 2013 record: 8-2-1-2, $59,310. 8-1 odds. Pulled up in his only 2014 starts, Virginia Fall’s W. Gary Baker Memorial on Oct. 4 and the Queen’s Cup MPC ’Chase near Charlotte on April 26. Tired late to finish third in the second division of 2013 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle at Far hills, N.J., after game second in William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes at Belmont Park.