Steeplechase sale takes flight

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A select group of Thoroughbreds make up the catalogue for the second annual Go Jump Racing Steeplechase Sale Sunday, April 10 at Great Meadow Racecourse in The Plains, Va.

The dozen (and counting) horses, all either current steeplechasers or chosen for their potential as such, are part of a new idea designed to spur interest and affect the equine inventory in American jump racing. And there are no slouches.

Horses are offered in two formats – outright sale or shares available. Horses for sale outright will be sold via live auction. Connections of the others will be on hand to discuss terms with potential owners/clients. In all cases, horses will be on hand for inspection with most scheduled to train and/or school over fences in the morning. Five percent of the sales price goes to the National Steeplechase Foundation to promote the sport.

Things get started when the gates open at 8:30 a.m. Horses will gallop, school and parade from 9 a.m. to noon. Lunch and a steeplechase symposium, with panel discussion will take place from noon to 2 p.m. The symposium, moderated by Joe Clancy from, will include Terry Finley of West Point Thoroughbreds, steeplechase trainers Richard Valentine and Kate Dalton, steeplechase owner Meriwether Morris and veterinarian Dr. Reynolds Cowles.

The sale starts at 2:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public with lunch available for purchase. Bidders are required to register before the sale and can do so on location. For information call Al Griffin at (540) 219-1400 or email [email protected].

The day is designed to educate newcomers to the sport, while also helping bring together current owners and trainers to buy and sell horses with the end result a few more horses in the game and the opportunity for some more human participation.

“Finding a worthy candidate with the constitution it takes to be a good jumper is one of the greatest pressures we face in the great sport of steeplechasing,” said trainer Arch Kingsley. “The exciting thing about a steeplechase sale and symposium is you can see it start to take shape as a viable format. The horses are of genuine quality and have even stood up to a pre-sale training routine. Nothing like this has ever been done before. I think the format of the sale and nature of our tightly knit sport ties the credibility of the seller to their offering and makes the deal even more attractive. If someone wants in on the game, suddenly there is an attractive way forward. I’ll be looking there for my next prospect.”

As Kingsley said, the small, live-auction group packs a punch.

Three-time hurdle winner Selection Sunday, part of the estate of leading owner Andre Brewster, headlines the list. He’s won a novice stakes and earned $116,100 over fences and will be ready to get back to racing this fall.

No less appealing are two steeplechase newcomers.

Command Control is a half-brother to classy flat stakes horses Ironicus, Norumbega, Hunting, Quiet Harbor, Minister’s Joy and Seal Cove. The 4-year-old son of Smart Strike lost four starts on the flat, in maiden special weight company, and embarks on a new career after being donated to the National Steeplechase Foundation by owner/breeder Stuart Janney III. Trainer Willie Dowling has been prepping the youngster, who is a hurdle prospect for this year.

Wild Dynaformer, another from the Brewster estate, is by the late/great leading sire Dynaformer. Winless on the flat, the 4-year-old nevertheless placed three times and looks like an ideal hurdle prospect. On the pedigree side, he’s a half-brother to Grade 1 winner Pyro and six other winners.

Leading trainer Jack Fisher is prepping three horses for the sale, and also hopes to be a buyer at the sale.

“I like the concept,” he said. “You’ve got some live horses that are going to be sold no matter what, and I’m going to be bidding on all of them. I think it’s got a chance to work. Last year was a learning curve and this year will probably be more learning, but I like the idea as long as we keep the right horses involved.”

Others on the list include Malibu Moon 4-year-old Extensible, a $250,000 yearling not all that long ago, recent timber convert Duc de Sovoie, active hurdler Zol Zayne, nine-time flat winner Zuerstgold and two former Kieron Magee trainees (both winners on the flat) Doc Cebu and the Argentine import Phineus.

Trainer Jimmy Day is looking for an owner or partner(s) for English-bred filly Sur Empire. The 4-year-old hails from the Aga Khan breeding program, and has won twice on the flat. Trainer Jazz Napravnik also seeks partners in Jesse O, a 4-year-old Pleasantly Perfect gelding, while Riverdee Stable offers shares in hurdle prospect Jewish Holiday.

Trainer Doug Fout does not have a horse in the sale, but likes the progress and sees it as a strong step forward.

“I think the auction is a great idea and a good opportunity for a new owner to get in the game of steeplechasing,” said trainer Doug Fout. “The horses offered are well-represented and I am sure it will be successful.”

Entries remain open. The full sales listing can be seen online at the NSA website with a full catalogue available online and on the day of the sale.

Run by the NSA’s Promotion and Growth Committee, the sale came to be last year at Shawan Downs in Maryland and is very much a work in progress. The 2015 sale featured the lease of graded stakes horse Barnstorming to a new partnership, and the sale of eventual timber winner Hockey Pop. Hurdle stakes winner Diplomat also went through the ring.

“American steeplechasing could use more participation and the sale was one way to help stimulate that,” said committee chair Al Griffin. “While it may seem like a longshot for a completely new owner to walk in and buy a horse, it’s not all that far-fetched to think of someone would get some advice from a trainer and buy a horse or a share in a horse for the first time. Like any business, you have to create opportunity and that’s what we’re doing.”

Great Meadow location at 5089 Old Tavern Road, The Plains, VA 20198

Sale/Symposium Schedule
Gates open at 8:30 a.m.
Horses gallop, school, parade: 9 a.m. to noon.
Lunch and symposium, with panel discussion: Noon to 2 p.m.
Sale starts: 2:30 p.m.

Event is free and open to the public. Lunch and drinks available for purchase.