Far Hills Spotlight: Allowance Hurdle

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How good is the Far Hills race committee? It puts up an extra just in case the 3-year-old stakes doesn’t go. Well, the 3-year-old race goes and they use the extra – a cool $50,000 purse offered to seven allowance horses. Leading trainer Jack Fisher entered four of the seven, he should write Far Hills’ Guy Torsilieri a thank you note.

1. Foolish Surprise. Breeder/owner/trainer/jockey – now we don’t usually get to type that – ventures to Far Hills with Maryland-bred who opened the season with a front-running win at Stoneybrook before faltering at Atlanta and rebounding with a quality second at Radnor. If you look through his form, he wasn’t beaten far by the likes of Bluegrass Summer and Dr. Skip. Cool horse. Good story. Short field.

2. En Fuego. Tough flat horse back in the day – tussling with the likes of Simmard, Pool Play, Center Divider and Harrods Creek. Fisher converted him to this sport in 2012 and he posted four decent races, including a maiden win at Parx and a fourth to Demonstrative in the Kiser at Saratoga. Then he disappeared for two years, returning to finish fifth behind All The Way Jose at Saratoga. Certainly needed that and could be primed for second career win.

3. Long House Saint. Imported after a dominant maiden win at Kilbeggan in August, he carries a 1-for-11 career mark over hurdles after racing in Ireland for Michael Hourigan. The Racing Post summed up his win: With plenty of experience on his side and having run his best race for some time when second over a slightly longer trip at Ballinrobe on his previous start, Long House Saint ran out an easy winner here, travelling well throughout and going to the front two out before stretching clear to win decisively. Rated 107, he will go up in the weights, but whatever else he achieves over hurdles, he looks a real chasing type.

In his start before that, he finished second to Hash Brown, who’s won three of his last four. Kind of like going to the fish market, we’ll take a good long look before making a decision.

4. Witor. German-bred won two of four for Graham Motion before moving to Todd Wyatt’s barn back in 2011. Trashed maidens in his second start in 2012 before missing all of 2013 with an injury. Hasn’t replicated any of that form in four starts this year, including two dull efforts at Saratoga. Wyatt tried blinkers, no change, before employing his wife for a wake-up call in a training flat win at Shawan. It might have done the trick.

5. Sharp Numbers. Nice return. Debut winner at Nashville last spring returned from a year layoff to finish third behind solid veterans All Together and Bob LeBeau in the W. Gary Baker. That effort, just two weeks ago, should have primed him for this. Strong effort in the Entenmann last fall, when third, shows he’s got the class and talent. The favorite.

6. Broxbourne. Another Fisher trainee who needs a jolt to reinvent himself, after falling at Monmouth in the summer and pulling up in the Baker. Before those debacles, he wired maidens at Atlanta and beat just one in the Bright Hour at Nashville. Impressive effort in his hurdle debut last fall when he finished second over the course. Must answer the most questions of the Fisher brigade.

7. Selection Sunday. Burst on the scene with a facile score at Radnor in May, followed it up with a decent effort behind Address Unknown at Monmouth and a solid try behind Rudyard K at Saratoga. Then what happened? Weak effort behind Syros to finish Saratoga and a non-descript effort in the Entenmann. Nothing like a class relief and a change of scenery. Completes a small but competitive group.