Special Skills showed off some special skills when he took command of Saturday’s $30,000 Sport of Kings maiden hurdle after a mile and drew away to a 3 1/2-length victory in the first jump race held at Suffolk Downs since 1997.
Located in East Boston, Suffolk ran its first live racing since last fall and will have two other Saturday meets in October.
Owned by Sheila Williams and Andre Brewster, Special Skills took a forward position as Ohthgift set the early pace. As the front-runner tired, jockey Sean McDermott sent Special Skills to the lead. The five-year-old Bernstein gelding led Mercoeur by 1 1/2 lengths over the last fence and drew away to the finish line. Mercoeur finished five lengths clear of third-place finisher Cash Crop.
Cash Crop is owned by Camden’s Sue Sensor and trained by Camden’s Arch Kingsley who gave Gus Dahl the leg up.
Special Skills ran the about 2 1/16-mile distance in 3:51.49 and gave trainer Jack Fisher his 16th victory of the current National Steeplechase Association season. Well on his way to a fourth straight trainer title, Fisher leads his closest competitors by eight wins.
Amy Taylor Rowe’s Maserati revved up the engines and overtook Wanganui to win Suffolk Downs’s $25,000 flat race for hurdle horses by a nose on Saturday. Mr. Hot Stuff, the 1.10-to-1 favorite, finished third, 1 1/2 lengths farther back. Trained by Leslie Young and ridden by Paddy Young, Brazilian-bred Maserati went off as the 9-to-5 second choice and ran the 1 1/2-mile distance in 2:53.28 on firm turf.
Steeplechasing was to have been a part of Saturday’s opening day at Kentucky Downs, but the steeplechase activity was cancelled.
Hardrock Eleven wins Spa finale: Virginia Lazenby’s Hardrock Eleven, sent to the lead passing under Saratoga Race Course’s finish line the first time, fought off a challenge by See Trouble into the stretch and pulled away to a 4 1/4-length victory in a $65,000 allowance hurdle that brought down the curtain on jump racing at the 2015 meet.
The 2.25-to-1 second betting choice, Hardrock Eleven ran the 2 3/8-mile distance in 4:49.20 on a firm turf course under Kieran Norris. Trained by Doug Fout, the five-year-old Rock Hard Ten gelding collected his first victory over fences. He had finished fourth in a 2 1/16-mile allowance hurdle on Aug. 13.
Clarke Ohrstrom’s See Trouble finished second, a nose ahead of Rosbrian Farm’s Magical Moon. Perfect Union, the 6-to-5 favorite, fell at the next to last fence to round out the four-horse starting field.
Off to the Big Apple: The National Steeplechase Association returns to New York and will kick off its fall campaign at Belmont Park on Thursday, Sept. 24 with a pair of jump races including the $150,000 Lonesome Glory Stakes, the first of three Grade 1 chases in the fall. Also on that day’s card is the $75,000 William Entenmann Memorial Hurdle Stakes.