Far Hills Spotlight: Maidens eye big payday

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Ah, the Far Hills maiden – proving ground of future Hall of Famer McDynamo among others. Worth $50,000, it’s the maiden race to win every year though no guarantee of future success. The second of seven races on the day, this year’s renewal drew the maximum of 10 plus four more on the also-eligible list. Five of the 14 make their debuts. Sires include Dynaformer (two), Tapit, Indian Charlie, Tiznow, Awesome Again, Sea The Stars and Tiznow. 

Buck Benny leads the field in experience, not always a good thing for maidens, with 11 starts.

Papy: Ends 15-month layoff for owner/breeder Dixiana Farm and trainer Brian Murphy. Third in lone jump try at Parx last July after racing on flat for Christophe Clement and Ben Colebrook. Dynaformer 7-year-old gets 2016 jockey champion Kieran Norris.

Sixty Five: Claimed by Ricky Hendriks out of Ellis Park race in July, French-bred won training flat race at Foxfield Sept. 24. Deserves respect based on claim, that Foxfield win and some classy flat runs on turf at Churchill Downs, Fair Grounds and Keeneland.

Mythmaker: Four-year-old ran in 3-year-old stakes here last year. One jump start in 2017, a fourth at Middleburg in April, before spending the summer at Presque Isle Downs. Won twice in five tries there to indicate quality. Leading jockey Darren Nagle, Sheppard, flat form, decent jump tries . . . plenty to like.

Make Big Plans. He’s by Tapit, yes that Tapit. Bred by Glen Hill Farm, 4-year-old is a half-brother to the graded-stakes placed Compelled. One win in nine flat tries for trainer Tom Proctor before purchase by jump trainer Julie Gomena. Clipped heels and fell at Radnor in May and finished sixth at Shawan Downs. Will need to improve on that.

Forward Thinker: Rare (in 2017) jumper for former powerhouse Augustin Stable makes first start since September 2016. Six wins, five seconds (two in Pennsylvania-bred stakes) on flat for trainer Graham Motion. Current trainer Richard Valentine’s barn might be heating up and jockey Shane Crimin won two at Virginia Fall last weekend.

Buck Benny: Grizzled veteran (by comparison) makes his 12th hurdle start while coming off a second at Parx in July and a third against winners at Saratoga. Has also fallen twice this year so he’ll need to bring his best to win this.

Whitman’s Poetry: How bad was that last race at Shawan? On paper, he lost by almost 39 lengths in his hurdle debut. Looking past that, he’s by Tiznow (Schoodic, Plated, etc.), he runs for Jack Fisher, he won twice and placed in the 2016 Laurel Turf Cup on the flat. Player.

Overawe: Fifth in hurdle debut at Shawan, the 5-year-old was once a $235,000 yearling whose flat career included time with Chad Brown and Leo O’Brien. Now trained by Alicia Murphy for Mike Wharton – the team behind timber star Grinding Speed – son of Awesome Again should improve off the debut.

Star Glitter: Bred in France, the 4-year-old raced in Ireland and England (winless in eight starts) before being purchased by Leslie Young. Prepped in a training flat at Foxfield.

Churchill D: One of trainer Willie Dowling’s six wins (in the slop at Penn National in August) on the year, 4-year-old Tiznow gelding gets top jockey Jack Doyle.


Jump to Juneau: First one in if there’s a scratch, 4-year-old was third at Great Meadow in May and fourth at Parx in July. In between, he fell at Fair Hill. Trained by the master, Jonathan Sheppard.

Say No Maux: Fourth in maiden claimer at Foxfield in jump debut for Hendriks, after winning on flat at Presque Isle in mid-September. Three lifetime wins, all at $10,000 claiming level or lower.

Carnival Carl: First-timer sports 4-for-27 flat record, mostly at Charles Town. Now with trainer Mark Beecher, Point Given gelding gives jumping a try. Beecher will ride as well.

Motivational: Needs four scratches to get in, and he’d be one of the contenders based on summer flat form (a win at Laurel and a sixth in the Laurel Turf Cup) for Fisher. Three flat wins plus a strong third at 54-1 last spring at Keeneland. Trained by Fisher, ridden by Danny Mullins. 

Equibase Entries.