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Cup day tote board: Strong winds, five close finishes and one blowout

Posted: April 5, 2011 11:08 a.m.
Updated: April 6, 2011 5:00 a.m.
C-I photo by Tom Didato/

WILLIE DOWLING GETS CARRIED into the plastic wing of the 10th fence by Worried Man in Saturday’s $25,000 Camden Plate maiden chase. Neither Dowling nor his mount suffered injury from the crash. Looking on is Danielle Hodsdon, riding Tifone.

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On a day of racing which some could argue was wind-aided by a steadily swirling breeze, Saturday’s 79th running of the Carolina Cup Steeplechase Races had a bit of everything for everyone.

If you liked tight finishes, the first three of the day’s six races were won by a length, a length and a nose (with the latter being determined by a photo finish), respectively. The endings in the fourth and six races came by 2 ½ and two lengths, respectively.

And, if you are a fan of dominating performances, the $50,000 Carolina First Carolina Cup feature was right up your alley with hometown favorite Sunshine Numbers wiring the field of five in romping to a 27 ¼-length victory. The final margin of victory is thought to be the widest in the history of the Carolina Cup feature chase.

Owned by Camden’s Sue Sensor and trained by Camden’s Arch Kingsley, Sunshine Numbers’ staggering performance was the second one-sided affair in the last two feature chases at the Springdale Race Course. In last November’s $100,000 Carolina First Colonial Cup, Slip Away, the eventual Eclipse Award winner, bested a starting field of nine jumpers by 25 ¾ lengths.

Here is a rundown of Saturday’s undercard:

Last Man Standing, first horse finishing:

Last Man Standing held off a late run from Not for Pride (Bernie Dalton), who was a length behind in second with Class Indian (Richard Boucher) coming home third. Like Sheppard, the second and third place finishers were trained in Camden by Janet Elliot and Lilith Boucher, respectively.

The winning time was 2:36.60

The Elkstone Group LLC is headed by Stuart Grant, who owns the nearby Camden Training Center.

Last Man Standing ran on the flat for trainers Anthony Dutrow and Tommy Iannotti before being sent to Sheppard to become a jumper some three months ago. Saturday was his first start away from a race track. The run over the flat was meant to be a tightner for his debut over fences.

"This was his first time out running on a course like this instead of at the flat track," said Grant, who was joined in the winners’ circle by former South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges. "We just wanted to make sure that he would relax and would be able to go the distance.

"I just talked to the jock and he said he had plenty of horse left and that he was real happy with him."

Grant smiled when asked about winning in a town whose racing heritage he helped preserve by purchasing the CTC.

"It’s really fun," he said. "This was the first time we’ve had a horse run on Carolina Cup day. It’s something that’s special. And, Governor Hodges and his wife are with us today. It’s a beautiful day in South Carolina. We love it."

Kicking up his heels:

That little episode behind him, the 5-year-old Nina Gardner-owned gelding broke his maiden on his ninth try when he carried Aizpuru to a one-length victory over Fog Island (Ross Geraghty) with a bold stretch run for trainer Todd McKenna in a 2 1/8-mile chase. The winning time was 4:12 2/5.

This chase had a strange and scary sight as the field of the six remaining jumpers --- from nine starters --- met the 10th and final fence. Tifone (Danielle Hodsdon), who led after the first circuit, held the lead at the final fence. Inside of Hodsdon and her mount came a charging Worried Man with Willie Dowling in the saddle. Inexplicably, Worried Man bolted left, taking Dowling through the plastic wing which guards the outside of the fences.

The crash caused Hodsdon to look behind and to her left to see what was taking place behind her.

Tifone lost the lead as Class Century, running third and on the outside of Fog Island, overtook both the front two horses to claim the win. The outcome was not official, however, until after a steward’s inquiry was made.

As for the spill, both horse and rider came out unharmed. Worried Man quickly got back up and ran off while Dowling, after having collected himself from the fall, was taken by golf cart to the finish line. He made his next scheduled start, two races later.

A "nose" for Music:

Leading by a length less than a hundred yards from home, Music To My Ears suddenly had company on his right as Wazee Moto, which led at various stages in the race, still had something left in his tank and nearly got this one, losing by a nose in a photo finish. Gather No Moss (Mark Watts) was third in a race in which the winner was clocked in 6:28.60.

Music to My Ears, owned by Anna Stable’s and trained in Aiken by Richard Valentine, was the oldest horse to have hit the Springdale Race Course on Saturday. The 13-year-old Irish-bred gelding scored his first win in at least 13 starts. He went 0-for-5 in 2009 and was winless in seven chases last year. His $12,000 payday on Saturday was $1,400 less than he made in each of the two previous years combined.

Good enough:

By the time the group met the 10th and final fence in the 2 1/8-mile chase over National fences, Best Alibi was still clinging to the lead, though now, Young had brought Good Request to the leader’s right and was charging.

Good Request, a 6-year-old Dynaformer gelding which broke his maiden over jumps in his final 2010 start, was able to overtake Best Alibi and galloped home to a 2 ½-length victory for Coppertree Farm and trainer Tom Voss. Zozimus, an 8-year-old gelding owned by Camden’s Dale Thiel and trained here by Britt Graham, was third in a race which was run in 4:13.

The race included a fatal fall suffered by Devil’s Preacher, who was tended to on the track by race veterinarians.

A Pensy for your thoughts:

Opera Heroine (Dowling) led Well Fashioned (Dalton) over the 10th and final fence with Upper Gulch (Young) trying to hold off Pensy. But Hodsdon and her mount made a big rush in the middle of the track for the 2-length victory in 4:12.80.

Opera Heroine held off Well Fashioned for second.

Pensy, a 5-year-old mare owned by Merriefield Farm and trained by Jazz Napravnik, used a big closing kick in the stretch to carry Hodsdon past three horses in winning the afternoon’s finale, the $15,000 Sport of Queens Hurdle to fillies and mares.
When the field of five jumpers made their way past the grandstand for the first of two times in Saturday’s $30,000 Woodward-Kirkover Stakes, Best Alibi (Darren Nagle) had opened up a gap of better than 15 lengths on his nearest pursuer.
For the better part of three miles, Robbie Walsh and Paddy Young staged a two-horse race aboard Music to My Ears and Wazee Moto, respectively, in the $20,000 C.P. and Edith Wills DuBose Cup, a 3-mile chase over timber fences.
On his way from the paddock to the race course for Saturday’s first steeplechase, the $25,000 Camden Plate, Class Century bucked up and jumped upright on his back hooves with jockey Xavier Aizpuru making like a rodeo rider in hanging on for dear life.
Last Man Standing, a 5-year-old gelding owned by The Elkstone Group LLC, primed for his first start over fences by winning The Kershaw, a 1 ½-mile run on the flat. The winner is trained by Hall of Fame conditioner Jonathan Sheppard, who had Brian Crowley in the irons.

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