A well-matched field will line up Saturday for the Far Hills Races’ $100,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle, the supporting feature for the 96th edition of America’s richest steeplechase meet.
In all, Far Hills will offer purses totaling a record $700,000, highlighted by the $350,000 Grand National. First post time is 1 p.m.
The Foxbrook is limited to novices, or horses in their first seasons of racing over fences, and the 2 1/2-mile race attracted the top four finishers from Belmont Park’s $75,000 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes on Sept. 22.
Virginia Lazenby’s Hardrock Eleven scored his second straight victory when winning the Entenmann Memorial by 2 1/4 lengths under apprentice Brendan Crowley. The six-year-old Rock Hard Ten gelding is trained by Doug Fout, who gave Crowley a return call.
Gil Johnston’s Miguel Grau finished second in the Entenmann, and trainer Richard Valentine named Willie McCarthy to again ride the six-year-old City Zip gelding. Valentine also entered Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Class Cherokee, who will be ridden by Bernie Dalton.
Champion trainer Jack Fisher entered Sheila Williams’ Special Skills, third in the Entenmann, and DASH Stable’s Ice It.
Ice It, the Entenmann favorite who tired to finish sixth, was last year’s three-year-old champion after winning Far Hills’ Gladstone. Paddy Young rides Special Skills, and Sean McDermott will be aboard Ice It.
Trainer Ricky Hendriks will saddle Rosbrian Farm’s Swansea Mile, who made a promising first impression when fourth, beaten 4 1/2 lengths, in Belmont’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) on Sept. 24. Ross Geraghty has the mount.
A supplementary entry to the Foxbrook was Irv Naylor’s Aquies, who finished fourth in the Entenmann for trainer Kathy Neilson. Leading owner Naylor also will be represented by All That Rules, a runaway winner in High Hope’s featured optional allowance hurdle in May. Carol-Ann Sloan rides All That Rules for trainer Cyril Murphy.
Here is the field for the $100,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle. The number in parentheses at the end of each profile is the horse’s National Steeplechase Association rating.
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: 6-1-1-2, $79,750. 2015 record: 3-2-0-0, $45,000. Sandwiched win in 2016 Saratoga handicap between third in similar race and Belmont’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. 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)
Castle Hill. 2012 b. g., Munnings—Push My Luck, by Press Card. Owner: William L. Pape. Trainer: Jonathan Sheppard. Jockey: Gerard Galligan. Breeders: William and Anne Pape (Pa.). 2016 NSA record: 4-0-1-1, $18,950. Maiden winner on flat finished third in Iroquois maiden hurdle, then lost rider when stirrup leather broke in Parx maiden. Finished second and fourth in Saratoga allowance hurdles. (111)
Swansea Mile (Ire). 2010 b. g., Dylan Thomas (Ire)—Hurry Up Helen, by In the Wings (GB). Owner: Rosbrian Farm. Trainer: Ricky Hendriks. Jockey: Ross Geraghty. Breeder: W. Kane (Ire). 2016 NSA record: 1-0-0-0, $7,500. Finished fourth in Belmont Park’s Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1) in U.S. debut. Won at Kempton in April after two wins in July 2015 for former stable. Failed to meet reserve and was bid in at approximately $25,300 at 2016 Goffs UK National Hunt sale in August. (133)
All That Rules (GB). 2009 b. g., Galileo (Ire)—Alba Stella (GB), by Nashwan. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Cyril Murphy. Jockey: Carol-Ann Sloan. Breeder: Miss K. Rausing and Balmerino Bloodstock (GB). 2016 record: 1-1-0-0, $15,000. 2015 record: 3-0-1-0, $4,500. Won High Hope’s featured optional allowance hurdle by 16 3/4 lengths to open 2016 season. Finished second in Colonial Cup split Ratings Handicap to conclude 2015 season. Disqualified from win in Montpelier handicap for going off course. (123)
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: 5-1-1-1, $40,850. 2015 record: 6-1-1-1, $34,200. Finished second in Belmont’s 2016 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. Won Suffolk Downs Ratings Handicap by 9 3/4 lengths, then finished fifth in Saratoga overnight handicap. Finished fourth in 2016 Georgia Cup optional allowance hurdle, then third in Virginia Gold Cup allowance hurdle. (121)
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: 6-2-1-0, $101,700. 2015 record: 6-1-1-2, $53,350. Won 2016 William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes after winning Saratoga allowance hurdle for second straight year. 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. (126)
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)
Aquies. 2012 b. g., Artie Schiller—Quies, by Quiet American. Owner: Irvin S. Naylor. Trainer: Kathy Neilson. Jockey: Open. Breeders: Mr. and Mrs. M. Roy Jackson (Ky.) 2016 NSA record: 5-1-3-0, $21,750. 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 and fourth in Belmont Park’s William Entenmann Memorial Novice Stakes. Finished second in Stoneybrook and Foxfield maiden claimers. Had winning summer on the flat. (105)