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Horses, hoops get Saturday spotlight

Posted: March 30, 2017 11:26 a.m.
Updated: March 31, 2017 1:00 a.m.

For many a year, The Mullikin Law Firm Carolina Cup  has fallen on the first day of the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four. Never, though, has that championship event included a team from the University of South Carolina.

Well, as luck would have it, the two twains will meet on Saturday on April Fool’s, of all days.

Should everything with the Carolina Cup go smooth, the final race should be over by or around 5 p.m. That would give those patrons, who are Gamecock fans, a little more than an hour in order toget themselves in front of a television set for the 6:09 p.m. tip-off for the Gonzaga versus USC game.

We all know that not all Cup patrons stay for every race. In fact, if you have ever looked toward College Park, you can often see packs of buses rolling out around 4 p.m. to take the revelers back to campus where, presumably, the party continues.

Just taking a stab in the dark here but I’m guessing a large smattering of the USC buses will be Columbia-bound at an earlier than usual hour on Saturday. And, it would not be hard to imagine more than one student asking the bus driver if they can be let off in Five Points.

For those not interested in the game or, who live close enough to make it home before Jim Nantz announces the starting lineups, it could be an easier than normal drive out from the Springdale Racecourse after the final race has been run. The yearly rite in which the streets in and around the track turn into Camden’s version of the post-work rush hour on the George Washington Bridge, could be reduced to a less stressful ride home. Under the perfect scenario, you might be able to grab a shower before settling in for that evening’s games(s).

This should be the part of the column where you are advised to drive home safely but you already know that. So, let’s just say here’s to all the horses and jockeys coming back safely from their races, may your Cup day be another enjoyable experience and may the team which mightbe the one that wins the office bracket pool for you come up big in Phoenix.


With the decision by Camden-based trainer Kate Dalton to run Strongbox on the maiden training flat, Saturday’s $75,000 feature for novice jumpers has been pared to 10 horses.

The projected post time for the 2 1/8-mile chase, the day’s fourth race, is 3:30 p.m.

Not to be discounted in the field are a pair of mares in Willow U (see accompanying story) and F. Hill Parker’s Get Ready Set Goes, which jumped her way to the National Steeplechase Association’s novice and female championships in 2016. 

The 5-year-old mare won the Mrs. Ogden Phipps Stakes at Saratoga and then, took the Peapack Stakes in Far Hills, NJ., in October.

Three-time defending NSA champion trainer Jack Fisherhas a pair of jumpers in the field including 2015 3-year-old champion Ice It and Signature Look, to be ridden by Sean McDermott and Willie McCarthy, respectively.

Camden trainer Arch Kingsley Jr. will saddle Florence resident Mark Buyck Jr.’s Show Court, who will have Australian jockey Mike Mitchell aboard. Kingsley has won the Carolina Cup with Sunshine Numbers (2011) and Top Striker (2014).

After two wins in the NSA season-opener in Aiken last Saturday, trainer Ricky Hendriks will send out Barracuda Stable’s Red Hammer. The English import has Ross Geraghty, winner of the last two Colonial Cup features, up for its U.S. debut.

Racing Hall of Fame conditioner Jonathan Sheppard hasWilliam L. Pape’s Castle Hill, a 2016 maiden winner, in the field  with Darren Nagle in the irons.

Never one to be counted out when it comes to the Carolina Cup is trainer Jimmy Day who saddled Canta Ke Brave (2002), Top of the Bill (2006), Spy in the Sky (2010) and Diplomat (2015) for wins in the Camden spring classic. This year, he will send out Macnicholson for its first American start for owner James S. Carter. Camden’s Bernie Dalton, who rode Diplomat ito victory in 2015, gets the nod for Day, again.

Neil Morris will try his luck with Thomas Hulfish’s Formidable Heart, a two-time winner in 2016, which will carry 2016 champion jockey Kieran Norris on its back.

In addition to Willow U, Valentine --- like Fisher --- will have a two-horse entry with Mrs. S.K. Johnston’s Miguel Grau. A stakes-placed jumper last year, the 7-year-old will have Jack Doyle in the saddle.



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