Champion 3-Year-Old: Hope For Us All

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ST profiled the steeplechase champions in its December edition and will re-run those articles here.

Dear Mr. Fisher,

Congratulations on the winning races from Saturday. I watched all of them with great interest, especially the last one, the Gladstone. You see I am the breeder and previous owner of Hope For Us All. He ran splendidly and looked quite in his element. When he was sold I had no idea where his new home would be, but felt he needed a new profession. I did not know exactly what would fit him best but did know that the more ground he covered the better he would be. When he finished, he looked ready to go around again.

I’m delighted he is in good hands and has found his strength. I would love to follow his progress but it is difficult to get video of the steeplechase races. I was fortunate to catch the Saturday events (at Far Hills). I still have Hope’s mom so maybe another jumping offspring is in the future. Up to this point I have only raced Thoroughbreds on the flats but maybe next time I’ll consider getting into steeplechase. What would it cost me to get started?

Again, nice work and good luck. I’m glad Hope lived up to his name . . . there is hope for us all.

Bob Anderson

Indeed, 3-year-old champion Hope For Us All found his strength. In nine starts on the flat, the son of Royal Anthem picked up a couple of thirds, fourths and fifths but mostly prompted jockeys to shrug “needs more ground” afterward. In two starts over hurdles, he earned a stakes win, $30,400 and a championship.

Trainer Mike Stidham and assistant Hilary Pridham knew the big Kentucky-bred’s strength wasn’t at a mile on the synthetic at Arlington Park. Pridham knows steeplechasing from England, and she moved Mark The Shark and others to the jump game. She knew Hope For Us All had a place.

“He was just a big, one-pace type horse. Kind, willing, very sound – a perfect candidate,” Pridham said. “I like to find them other things to do if they’re not working for us. He always needed more ground, I guess he’s got it now. We’re delighted for the horse.”
Andre Brewster’s Arcadia Stable purchased Hope For Us All in late July. The horse made his jump debut at Virginia Fall in early October, won the Gladstone at Far Hills Oct. 17, clinching the 3-year-old championship. His breeder, Bob Anderson, sent the note to trainer Jack Fisher.

The career change and championship came easy. The process was more complicated.
Offered to Fisher and other steeplechase owners and trainers, Hope For Us All bounced around computer screens and conversations but nobody would pull the trigger for most of the summer. Finally, after the horse finished third for maiden claiming $10,000 at Arlington Park July 16, Fisher relented.

“In the beginning he was for sale and I had one guy I tried and he said no,” Fisher said. “Then I’m sitting around with Dr. (James) Kenney at Fair Hill and we’re talking about the horse who won the U.N., Presious Passion, and he said that’s a really good sire, that would work for you.”

Also by Royal Anthem, Presious Passion won the United Nations this summer and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Turf this fall. His game is carrying his speed over a distance of ground.

“Then I’m sitting on the bench at the barn one day and Andre happens to walk in and I said, ‘Andre, do you want to buy a horse?’ ” Fisher said. “I told him the price and he was like, ‘That’s not really a horse.’ I said, ‘Come on, I’ll split it with you, we can’t get killed.’ He said, ‘All right, whatever you want.’ “

Hope For Us All arrived just as Pridham described. Big, willing, looking for more ground. He took to jumping like Sarah Palin to the limelight and made his debut at Virginia Fall, finishing fifth in a 3-year-old maiden under Willie Dowling. The race set him up perfectly for the $50,000 Gladstone two weeks later. Hope For Us All pulled hard through the race and wore down Class Century to win by 1 1/4 lengths.

“At Middleburg, I told Andre that we were setting up for Far Hills. He said, ‘is he good enough for Far Hills?’ I knew he was good enough for Far Hills,” Fisher said. “He was always a good jumper from the beginning and I think that’s what it takes for 3-year-olds, the best jumper wins. After looking at the PPs for the horses at Far Hills, nobody in there could win a maiden claiming $20,000. There wasn’t a heavy head in there.”
Arcadia and Fisher cashed the check and looked toward Camden for Hope For Us All. A subpar schooling session early in the week convinced Fisher to put away the champion.

“I thought something was wrong behind after Far Hills, I had him looked at by a couple of vets and a couple of acupuncturists. Everybody said he was OK. He usually schools brilliantly and he didn’t, so I just pulled the plug, it was an easy decision,” Fisher said. “Years past, I would have run him, maybe it works out, maybe it doesn’t. When it doesn’t work, instead of being back in the spring, they’ll be back in the spring of 2011.”
Fisher pulled Hope For Us All’s shoes and plans to have him back in 2010.

“He’s better than average but I do think it was a below-average group of 3-year-olds,” Fisher said. “He’s a 4-year-old in the novice division next spring, with the weight break, you might get lucky.”

See this story and more in the December newspaper by logging in to the ST Clubhouse.