History 101: The Supreme Hurdle

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Saturday’s 22nd renewal of the U.S. Championship Supreme Hurdle Novice Stakes at Callaway Gardens prompted us to do a little digging through the history books. Guess what we found?


Little did they know it at the time, but when Callaway staged the inaugural running of the Supreme Hurdle (then known as the Delta Airline Supreme Hurdle) in 1988 the race would be an important stepping-stone up the ladder of steeplechase history.

Pull out your American Steeplechasing 2008 book and thumb to page 188 and the leading steeplechase earners in America. What do the top 10 names on the list have in common? From McDynamo to Tres Touche; every one of them ran in the Supreme Hurdle during their careers. From Victorian Hill’s win in 1989 to Good Night Shirt’s second place run in 2005, the Callaway fixture has been the exactly what you look for in a novice stakes; a showcase of steeplechase racing’s stars of tomorrow.

Augstin Stable’s Summer Colony, himself comfortably in the top-30 on the all-time earnings list with $347,422, won the first running of the Supreme Hurdle in 1988 to complete a perfect 5-for-5 season for Jonathan Sheppard. Summer Colony’s win was a precursor of things to come and just one year later, when Victorian Hill won the 1989 edition, it was clear the Supreme Hurdle was here to stay.

Summer Colony and Victorian Hill got the ball rolling in the Supreme Hurdle and over the past 20 years it has hardly slowed down. In fact, if you didn’t know any better, you would think in order to crack the top-10 on the all-time earnings list you had to run in the Callaway fixture.

McDynamo, the all-time leader at $1,310,104, won the Supreme Hurdle in 2002; two-time champion Good Night Shirt ($1,006,493) was second in 2005; Lonesome Glory ($965,809) was third in 1992; the aforementioned Victorian Hill ($748,370) scored in 1989; Sur La Tete ($664,050) was fifth in 2003; Rowdy Irishman ($644,528) finished third in 1994; Flat Top ($592,306) was second in 1997; Hirapour ($583,722) took the top prize in 2003; Praise The Prince ($576,488) took the race in 2000; Tres Touche ($573,670) finished seventh in 2001 and for good measure Mistico ($517,347), 11th on the list, was second in 1992.