Move over Thrice Worthy. Snap Decision needs room after winning his ninth consecutive American steeplechase race – tying the 1980s great for the all-time record – in Saturday’s Grade 1 Calvin Houghland Iroquois in Nashville, Tenn.
Owned by Bruton Street-US and trained by Jack Fisher, the 7-year-old settled (somewhat reluctantly) behind New Member and Amschel early, advanced to second after a mile and went after the leader for real leaving the backstretch the final time. Snap Decision led coming to the third-last and that was that. He made the turn, shrugged off Amschel and Bedrock and won by 3 1/2 lengths, with jockey Graham Watters checking the rearview in the stretch. Irv Naylor-owned runners Amschel and Bed Rock finished second and third. New Member faded to a distant fourth. Galway Kid was pulled up and Footpad fell at the fourth fence. Sportswear was scratched.
Shortened to 2 3/4 miles from its traditional 3 miles, and moved from its mid-May date due to Covid protocols, the $100,000 Iroquois was the first Grade 1 jump race of 2021.
Snap Decision’s first Grade 1 triumph (in his first try) came almost two years since the streak began July 4, 2019 in a maiden hurdle at Monmouth Park. Snap Decision was still learning then, after finishing second in his first two starts, but he’s a finished product now – improving to 2-for-2 this year after opening with a victory in the Temple Gwathmey May 1. The nine wins include that maiden score, an allowance at Saratoga, Belmont novice and Far Hills novice in 2019; 2020 wins in the David Semmes and two novice stakes at Saratoga; and now the Gwathmey and the Iroquois. After winning two of 18 starts and earning $189,934 on the flat, he’s gone 9-for-11 and pocketed $368,400 over jumps.
Trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey for breeder the Phipps Stable, Snap Decision won two turf races as a 3-year-old in 2017 – a Gulfstream Park maiden on the Pegasus World Cup undercard in January and adding a first-level allowance at Belmont Park in July. In the start before that win, he finished second (beaten three-quarters of a length) to future Horse of the Year Bricks And Mortar. The son of Hard Spun and the Unbridled mare Salute also placed in two stakes, but had lost 11 consecutive starts when Bruton Street partner Charlie Fenwick inquired about a new career. Fenwick found steeplechase success with another son of Hard Spun, Doc Cebu, and thought Snap Decision might work too. The pricetag was $75,000. It seems like a bargain.
In other action at Nashville, trainer Keri Brion doubled – winning the Margaret Currey Henley filly/mare stakes with Buttonwood Farm’s The Mean Queen (Tom Garner) and a maiden hurdle with The Rann Family’s Keri’s Find (Parker Hendriks). Owner Irv Naylor also doubled – winning the opening 115 handicap hurdle with Mighty Mark, trained by Kathy Neilson and ridden by her daughter Skylar McKenna, and also collecting the $50,000 Green Pastures novice stakes with Chief Justice. Trained by Cyril Murphy and ridden by Jamie Bargary, Chief Justice won a three-way photo over Baltimore Bucko and Master Gunner, to halt a losing streak at seven. Bred in England, Chief Justice finished a troubled fourth at Nashville in 2019, his American debut.
Fearnought Farm’s New Zealand import Princeville graduated the maiden ranks with a gutsy nose win over Market Bubble for trainer Doug Fout and jockey Barry Foley. The 7-year-old came into the race with three seconds and two thirds in nine hurdle starts. Snap Decision’s team of Fisher and Watters also won the allowance timber with Storm Team for Sheila Williams and Northwoods Stable.
NOTES: In addition to Bricks And Mortar, Snap Decision ran against Mr. Buff, Hieroglyphics, Yoshida and Focus Group on the flat . . . The Iroquois meet wrapped up the National Steeplechase Association’s spring (summer?) season. Action shifts to Saratoga and Colonial Downs for the summer . . . Fisher leads the trainers’ race with eight wins, followed by Neilson with six and Brion with five. Watters (11 wins) leads Garner (nine) among the jockeys.