Steeplechase champions McDynamo and Hirapour top the list of eight Thoroughbreds nominated to the $250,000 Breeders' Cup Grand National (gr. I) steeplechase, to be run Saturday, Oct. 28 at Far Hills, N.J.Owned by Michael Moran, McDynamo tries to win the race for the fourth consecutive year and also risks a perfect 5-0 mark over the Far Hills course. What's more, the 9-year-old son of Dynaformer can become the leading steeplechase earner of all-time with a victory. If all this history is weighing on the two-time champion (2003 and 2005), it's not showing."He seems great," said trainer Sanna Hendriks. "He worked on Monday (Oct. 16), something easy just a maintenance thing for him. I'm just trying to keep him bright."McDynamo's fall campaign started bright enough, with a powerful score in the Somerset Medical Center (NSA-II) at the Meadowlands Sept. 29. There, McDynamo stalked pacesetter Swoop And Soar before taking over on the final run down the backstretch. Under regular jockey Jody Petty, McDynamo won by 6 1/4 lengths while easing up at the finish.Another effort like that will make McDynamo difficult to defeat, though chief rival Hirapour has proven plenty capable. The 2004 steeplechase champion, owned by Eldon Farm, won the A.P. Smithwick Memorial (NSA-II) at Saratoga and prepped for the Breeders' Cup with an easy score in a training flat race at Morven Park (Va.) Oct. 14. Trained in Virginia by Doug Fout, Hirapour attempts to come back from an ankle injury diagnosed after the New York Turf Writers Cup at Saratoga Aug. 31. Like McDynamo, the 10-year-old Irish import appears to be in good form though Fout is wary of the ankle trouble."I was so nervous at Morven Park I couldn't talk to anybody," said Fout. "I was surprised he did it as easy as he did and at first I thought it took too much out of him, but it didn't. We've still got a week to go, but he's as good as I can get him. He seems like he did before the Smithwick. He's happy, he's eating well, he's bright. He's dragging me in his gallops again and into his fences."McDynamo and Hirapour have appeared in the same race together five times. The score reads three wins for McDynamo and two for Hirapour. Game six awaits.Beyond the top pair, the nomination list includes New York Turf Writers winner Mixed Up and hard-knocking stakes competitor Mauritania. Notable flat owner/breeder Ken Ramsey will be represented by Party Airs, a multiple hurdle winner in Ireland and the United States.
The complete nomination list (with owner, trainer): Chivite (Calvin Houghland, Bruce Miller), Hirapour (Eldon Farm, Doug Fout), Kilbeggan Lad (Patrick Kehoe, Tom Foley), Lone Arrow (Brigadoon Stable, Fout), Mauritania (Whitewood Stable, Richard Valentine), McDynamo (Michael Moran, Sanna Hendriks), Mixed Up (Bill Pape, Jonathan Sheppard) and Party Airs (Ken Ramsey, Tom Voss). All horses will carry 156 pounds. Entries close Oct. 24.NOTES: The 86th Far Hills Races, host of the Breeders' Cup, is the richest day in American steeplechasing with $600,000 in total purses on an all-stakes, six-race card. A crowd of 50,000 is expected . . . ESPN2 program Wire to Wire will broadcast the race as part of its Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships preview show Thursday, Nov. 2.