The race for the National Steeplechase Association’s leading trainer and jockey – the owner’s crown was settled a few weeks ago – came down to the final meeting of the season and the two men who won in 2017 also came out on top in 2018.
The five-race Steeplechase at Charleston programed settled affairs and perennial champion trainer Jack Fisher and defending champion jockey Darren Nagle walked away from the grounds in Hollywood, S.C., with titles.
Fisher came into Charleston with a one-race lead over Ricky Hendriks. Both were blanked in the opener – a 2 1/4-mile maiden claiming hurdle won by Nagle aboard Irv Naylor's Moss Code for trainer Cyril Murphy – before Fisher increased the margin to two in the second.
Noble Stable’s Dynaformersrequest, making his ninth start over jumps, provided the victory for Fisher under Willie McCarthy with a 3-length win in the 2 1/4-mile maiden hurdle.
Hendriks struck in the third, a 3-year-old allowance hurdle going 2 1/4 miles, with last-out Far Hills winner Caldbeck for Rosbrian Farm and jockey Ross Geraghty.
Neither won the final jump race of the season – the featured $30,000 ratings handicap hurdle won by Straylight Racing’s Invocation for trainer Billy Santoro and jockey Sean McDermott – and the season tally finished with Fisher at 22 wins and Hendricks at 21. Fisher also took the money title, racking up purses of $983,850 to Hendriks’ total of $933,750. Fisher has won the last seven championships – and 12 of the last 16.
Nagle and yearlong leader Jack Doyle came into Charleston tied at the top of the rider standings at 16 wins apiece. Nagle won the opener to lock up the title as none of Doyle’s mounts found the winner’s circle. Doyle finished second with 16 wins from 95 mounts, a strike rate of 16.8 percent.
Nagle ended the season with 17 victories from 78 mounts – a strike rate of 21.8 percent – and earnings of $547,350. Ross Geraghty took home the money title with purses of $716,100, well clear of runner-up Doyle’s haul of $595,150. Nagle is the first repeat champion since Paddy Young won three in a row in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Rosbrian Farm ended the season as the leading owner by purses with $712,050 after winning 14 of 54 starts. Naylor finished second with $451,250 and was the leader by races won at 17.
In the all-important thisishorseracing.com handicappers' race, Tom Law ended an eternal run by a member of the Clancy family to take home top honors for the autumn season. Tom, who picked eight winners last weekend, added four more Sunday to break a tie with Sean Clancy and ended the season with 22 winners. Tom picked Moss Code, Dynaformersrequest, Caldbeck and Invocation, only missing the sweep when All Out Of Aces finished fourth in the training flat finale. Sean finished second with 21 winners after three wins – Dynaformersrequest, Caldbeck and Invocation – Sunday while Joe Clancy trailed in third with 18 after only picking Caldbeck in the season finale.
Worth Repeating – Calendar Season
The phone at ST headquarters is perking up with orders for the 2019 edition of the Thoroughbred Racing Calendar. You can order online, but sometimes the phone calls are pure entertainment, joy and a bit of wonder. Monday morning, Jim from Richardton, North Dakota (who's a big fan of Kentucky Downs) called with his usual order of three calendars. He also handed out a weather/political report: "It's two below zero, and it snowed already. You can't see the grass no more. Ah, it's gonna get a lot colder ya know? All us goofy bastards live in North Dakota. And I'm not a Republican. I can't even talk to most of my family anymore."
Hang in there, Jim. And thanks for the order.
By The Numbers
8: Victories in Woodbine’s Glorious Song Stakes for trainer Mark Casse after sending Souper Charlotte out to victory Sunday. He’s also won three straight and five of the last six.
8: Day turnaround for Highway Star to win the Staten Island division of the New York Stallion Series Sunday at Aqueduct after finishing eighth in the Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint at Churchill Downs.
2,000: Wins for jockey Luis Saez after riding Y’allcomenow to victory in the fourth race at Aqueduct Friday.
$300,000: Price paid by Grandview LLP for Ducru, a 4-year-old daughter of Broken Vow in foal to Violence, during the seventh session of the Keeneland November breeding stock sale Sunday.
License Plates (Leftover from Tom's trip to Kentucky)
The ‘Race’ Is On
Our crew at This Is Horse Racing loves to run and occasionally laces up the shoes for a local 5k, team relay or half marathon. Here’s an interesting event announced Monday morning:
‘Heart Race at the Track’ to Benefit American Heart Association
Churchill Downs today announced the opening of a public auction for 19 lucky runners to race each other on the iconic racetrack to raise awareness and money for the American Heart Association - Louisville. The winner of “Heart Race at the Track” will win two tickets to the 145th Kentucky Derby in May 2019. The public can bid to earn a spot in this once-in-a-lifetime race at www.KentuckyDerby.com/HeartRace. All proceeds will benefit the American Heart Association – Louisville (AHA).
The race will take place Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 11 a.m. The runners will start out of the famous Churchill Downs’ starting gate and run the Kentucky Derby’s 1 1/4-mile distance to the finish line. The 19 highest bidders who have a spot in the race will be announced Monday, Nov. 19 at www.KentuckyDerby.com/HeartRace.
The race is part of AHA’s new Queen of Hearts campaign. The Heart Ball, AHA’s annual fundraising event, nominates community leaders who exemplify a healthier Kentuckiana to be Queen of Hearts candidates to help raise money and awareness to reduce heart disease and stroke. Each Queen of Hearts candidate has committed to raising a minimum of $10,000 to support AHA’s mission. The candidate who raises the most money will be crowned the Queen of Hearts at the 27th annual Heart Ball Feb. 9, 2019.
Churchill Downs’ Vice President of Partnerships Kristin Warfield is a Queen of Hearts candidate who helped organize the “Heart Race at the Track” to raise money and awareness for AHA. She will fill the 20th spot in the race but is not eligible for the winning prize of two Derby tickets.
“I’m extremely honored to be a Queen of Hearts candidate,” Warfield said. “Helping people live healthier lives and understand the importance of heart health are issues that are important to me personally. I’ve made many changes in my diet and exercise during the past year to live healthier and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than support the American Heart Association through Heart Race at the Track.”