Unalienable Right, a Green Dancer 5-year-old bred by Phipps Stable, is slated to start Thursday in the $100,000 Hard Scuffle Hurdle Stakes (NSA-I) at Churchill Downs. The Hard Scuffle is the first race in the Steeplechase Triple Crown series for novice hurdlers.
The Miacomet Farm runner has yet to win a stakes race, but is certainly bred to accomplish the feat. His unraced dam Freedom of Speech (by Danzig) is out of Hempstead Handicap (gr. I) winner Fantastic Find and a half-sister of two-time grade I winner Finder's Fee. His second dam, grade II winner Blitey, produced Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) winner Dancing Spree, Ballerina Handicap (gr. I) winner Furlough, and Long Island Handicap (gr. II) winner Dancing All Night.
"It's Derby Week, and he was bred to run Derby Week," said trainer Mark McEntee Tuesday. "He just got the day wrong, and he's off by a couple of years."
Unalienable Right's career in flat racing didn't last long. He raced once, finishing in Monmouth Park maiden race in June of 2000 while trained by Shug McGaughey. He came out of that race with an injury and was sidelined for over a year before making his steeplechase debut last September. The frontrunner did not finish that 2 1/8-mile race but returned a month later to win a 2 1/4-mile race by 9 1/4 lengths and a Calder allowance at the same distance by 25 3/4 lengths. Unalienable Right tuned up for the Hard Scuffle with a second-place finish in allowance company in March.
"His running style is a catch-me-if-you-can scenario," said McEntee. "I hope he settles and races a length ahead and then quickens on in the stretch but that's not the way he does things."
McEntee is farm manager at Miacomet, which preps many of the Phipps' horses in Kentucky and Florida. Miacomet did much of the early prep work on Kentucky Derby contender Saarland.
"We reserved 20 spaces for the stakes room for Thursday," said McEntee. "We're all rooting for Saarland in the Derby, but we're going to go watch our horse run Thursday and have fun first."
The field in post position order with jockey and morning line.
1--Mr. Fater, Cyril Murphy, 4-1
2--Unalienable Right, Tom Foley, 8-1
3--McDynamo, Craig Thornton, 3-1
4--Ethical Actions, Arch Kingsley, 10-1
5--Najjm, Blythe Miller, 2-1
6--Sharp Face, Chip Miller, 12-1
7--Understood, Robert Massey, 15-1
8--Miles Ahead, Gus Brown, 10-1