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Pleasant Woodman chops down field in Aiken feature

Posted: March 25, 2014 11:53 a.m.
Updated: March 26, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Pleasant Woodman continued his love affair with Ford Conger Field when he broke on top in the Aiken Spring Steeplechase’s $50,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 3), fought off a challenge from Street Fight, and drew clear to a 1 1/2-length victory on Saturday.
The event kicked off the 2014 National Steeplechase Association campaign
Owned by Virginia Lazenby and Farm d’Allie Racing, Pleasant Woodman is undefeated at the Aiken course and has never been headed. Ridden by Kieran Norris, last year’s champion apprentice jockey, the Woodman gelding jumped out to an early advantage and maintained it to the final circuit of the far turn.
Dogwood Stable’s Street Fight, trained in Camden by Arch Kingsley, who had won his maiden victory at last year’s Aiken Fall Steeplechase, moved closer to the front-runner and mounted a challenge on the final turn. He drew close to Pleasant Woodman but could not take the advantage.
“When Street Fight came to him, he just picked it up again,” Norris said. “He jumped very well, and I just let him find his own pace.”
Pleasant Woodman had the advantage at the final fence and drew clear to the finish line. Trained in Virginia by Doug Fout, Pleasant Woodman ran the Budweiser Imperial Cup’s two miles in 3:45 flat on firm ground.
The Budweiser Imperial Cup was Pleasant Woodman’s first stakes victory and his third straight win at the Aiken course. He ran away to a maiden victory at the 2013 Aiken Spring meet and returned in the fall to win the $25,000 Budweiser Holiday Cup, an optional allowance.
Ireland native and current Camden resident Willie McCarthy, who had ridden Pleasant Woodman in the Holiday Cup, rode Street Fight in the Aiken Fall race and was well aware of where Pleasant Woodman’s natural speed would place him. He said he had to use some of Street Fight’s speed to stay in touch with the front-runner.
“I had to go after him,” McCarthy said. “I really didn’t have any choice.”
Following Street Fight to the wire were Dugan, trained in Camden by Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard and ridden by Camden’s Bernie Dalton, and Call Me Sonny, owned by Camden’s Dale Thiel.
McCarthy was aboard two winners on the day’s five race card, including four over fences. McCarthy took the co-feature, the $25,000 Charles S. Bird Jr. allowance optional claiming hurdle on the William L. Pape-owned El Season, trained by Sheppard. The win came by 9 ½ lengths. Camden trainer Dave Washer sent out General Partner, which was second.
McCarthy’s first win of the afternoon came on the Ted Gregory-trained Capture Le Prix for its win in the $10,000 G.H. Bostwick maiden claimer in a score  by 3 ¾ lengths.
Camden trainer Lilith Boucher sent out Mr. Lickety to its win in the $20,000 James W. Maloney maiden hurdle. Her husband, Richard Boucher, was in the irons for the 7 1/2-length victory.
The day of racing opened with the C.W. Jackson training flat race which was on won Sporty, trained by Aiken-based Julie Gomena. The 7-year-old gelding is entered into Saturday’s $50,000 Carolina Cup in Camden. Finishing third on the flat was Camden’s Sue Sensor’s Top Striker, 5-year-old trained by Kingsley who had McCarthy up. Like Sporty, Top Striker was getting in a work for Saturday’s feature in Camden.

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