People might want to start listening to Willie McCarthy. For months, the jockey has been calling Snap Decision a budding star and the rookie jumper backed up the opinion with his third consecutive win in Wednesday’s William Entenmann Memorial at Blemont Park Wednesday.
Trained by Jack Fisher for Bruton Street-US, Snap Decision bided his time behind a mild early pace, advanced from fifth to second after the last fence and prevailed in the long run-in to score by 2 lengths at shorter than 3-5. Early leader Arch My Boy stayed for second with Chief Justice third after 4:17.37 for 2 1/4 miles.
McCarthy, aboard for all five of the horse’s hurdle starts, was impressed – again.
“I said he’s the best horse I’ve ever ridden and I know what I’m talking about,” he said. “I’ve been here long enough. He’s a hell of a horse and I’m delighted to find a horse like this late in my career.”
The only American-bred horse in the field, Snap Decision was destined for a career on the flat with his breeder Phipps Stable and trainer Shug McGaughey. The son of Hard Spun lost his only start as a 2-year-old in 2016, but won twice as a 3-year-old the next season while also placing in the Grade 3 Palm Beach Stakes and the ungraded Better Talk Now. The half-brother to Grade 1 winner Mr. Speaker lost his final 11 starts for McGaughey, and wound up on the radar of Bruton Street partner Charlie Fenwick as a hurdle prospect. Snap Decision joined Fisher’s barn late last year, and has done little wrong since with seconds at the Queen’s Cup in April and Nashville in May, a maiden win at Monmouth Park in July and a 38 1/2-length romp at Saratoga in August.
Wednesday’s Entenmann offered another test as Snap Decision met six rivals including experienced English/Irish winners Chief Justice, Arch My Boy, City Dreamer, Veneer Of Charm and Cracker Factory. As it turned out, they were no match. The novice stakes changed with the scratch of likely pacemaker Teodoro (who won by 33 3/4 at Saratoga), and forced McCarthy to have to at least reconsider his strategy.
“Completely different,” the jockey said. “I’ve been thinking about this race out running, out walking, spin classes, I’ve been thinking about this race because you get a lot of time to think when you’ve got a couple of weeks before you ride again. The race I was thinking about was completely different. This week, we figured out that horse had come out of it, so we knew it was going to be different. I knew there wasn’t going to be any speed.”
Snap Decision could have probably made the early running (as he did in the win at Monmouth), but left that to Arch My Boy. Sportswear, undefeated in two starts coming in, took over with a lap to go but couldn’t keep pace over the final half-mile.
Next up will be an even tougher assignment in the Foxbrook Novice at Far Hills Oct. 20. The 2 1/2-mile test features more jumping, and more distance, than Belmont. The Entenmann runners will advance with the race, and new English/Irish rivals will likely make the trip. Snap Decision will pick up three pounds for the win, but can also improve.
“That’s the highest class of horses he’s run against,” McCarthy said. “He won from the front at Monmouth, he adapted to a very slow pace today. He won off a very strong pace at Saratoga. He’s proved he can do everything. You can ride him any way you want. He’s improving with very race. He hasn’t had a hard race yet.”
Steeplechasing returns to Belmont Thursday for the Grade 1 Lonesome Glory. Check back for picks and preview.