Twelve steeplechasers, headed by heavy favorite McDynamo, were nominated Tuesday to the 12th Breeders' Cup Steeplechase (NSA-I) which will be run Saturday, Oct. 18.
Hosted by the Far Hills Races in Far Hills, N.J., the $175,000 Breeders' Cup will, as usual, play a large role in determining the Eclipse Award for champion steeplechaser. Among the nominations are 2003 grade I winners McDynamo, Pelagos and Trebizond. A victory in the 2 5/8-mile Breeders' Cup would solidify the chances of any of those three, though McDynamo's score in Keeneland's Royal Chase (NSA-I) stands out as a championship-caliber win.
"He's the horse to beat, no doubt about it," said Bill Gallo, the National Steeplechase Association's director of racing. "His performance at Keeneland was superb, and others will have to step up to be competitive. There are several horses coming into the Breeders' Cup off good races, though, so McDynamo will face some challenges."
Entries for the race close Tuesday, Oct. 14.
Purchased at Keeneland as a yearling, McDynamo won two races on the flat, but has truly blossomed as a steeplechaser. The 6-year-old son of Dynaformer sports a 6-for-8 mark with $310,179 earned for trainer Sanna Hendriks and owner Mike Moran. McDynamo is undefeated in two starts over the Far Hills course, and a perfect 1-for-1 this year thanks to a 7 1/2-length score over a quality field at Keeneland in April.
The most competition could come from within the barn as Hendriks also nominated grade I winner Lord Zada. Owned by Augustin Stable, the 10-year-old has not run since April 2002 but is a threat based on a win in the 2002 Colonial Cup (NSA-I) and superior flat form that includes several stakes wins. Hendriks also nominated the horse to the Appleton at Far Hills, and may opt for that race.
Trainer Jack Fisher nominated Indispensable, whose recent form suggests a quality effort. The 9-year-old finished a fast-closing third in the New York Turf Writers Cup (NSA-I) at Saratoga and started his fall campaign with an easy win in the Legacy Cup at Shawan Downs Sept. 27. Trebizond, one of three nominees from trainer Kathy Neilson, leads all steeplechasers in 2003 earnings with $140,488, but has lost three consecutive starts and is winless in open company. French raider High Moon, owned by American Maglen Bryant and trained by Jacques Ortet, brings a record of 12 wins from 33 starts. The 7-year-old is a son of Alleged, who sired two-time U.S. steeplechase champion Flat Top.
The Breeders' Cup Steeplechase headlines the richest day in U.S. steeplechasing this year, as Far Hills offers $455,000 in purses on its all-stakes card. In addition to the feature, the lineup incudes the $100,000 Foxbrook (NSA-I) for novice hurdlers, the $50,000 Appleton (NSA-III) at 2 1/8 miles over hurdles, the $50,000 Gladstone for 3-year-olds, the $50,000 New Jersey Hunt Cup over timber and the $30,000 Harry Harris for fillies and mares. The Breeders' Cup will be televised on the Long John Silver's Wire to Wire program slated to air Thursday, Oct. 23 at 12:30 p.m. on ESPN2.
Nominees, owner, trainer
Anofferucantrefuse, Fox Ridge Farm, Tom Voss
High Moon, Magelen Bryant, Jacques Ortet
Hotspur, Peachtree Stable, Jonathan Sheppard
Indispensable, Edie Dixon, Jack Fisher
Lord Zada, Augustin Stable, Sanna Hendriks
McDynamo, Mike Moran, Sanna Hendriks
Mr Perkolater, Gillian Johnston, Kathy Neilson
Mulahen, Gillian Johnston, Kathy Neilson
Najjm, Gillian Johnston, Bruce Miller
Pelagos, Michael Hoffman, Bruce Miller
Trebizond, Bill Lickle, Kathy Neilson
Turkish Corner, Estate of Mrs. Walter Jeffords, Bruce Miller