Using the Springdale Race Course as his classroom and his good friend and retired National Steeplechase Association champion jockey Jonathan Smart and Camden-based trainer Mickey Preger as his professors, Willie McCarthy went back to school last week in the days leading up to McCarthy's ride aboard Top Striker in Saturday's 82nd running of the $50,000 Carolina Cup steeplechase.
All those gloomy early week predictions of the possibility of --- your pick --- rain, hail, thunderstorms, threat of a tornado ... locusts ... on Saturday did not keep too many Carolina Cup patrons from descending upoon the Springdale Race Course in strong numbers.
At a time of morning when many a Carolina Cup-goer is rolling over in their bed, the men charged with making sure everything on the grounds of the Springdale Race Course and its adjoining property are in working order are already on the job and rolling out, assuring that everything is in place for the tens of thousands of patrons who will make their way through the gates in the coming hours.
Bill Pape's Martini Brother, who blossomed last year as one of American Steeplechasing's emerging stars, heads a talented field of six for the $50,000 Carolina Cup, the featured race of the 82nd annual Carolina Cup Races in Camden on Saturday.
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.
With the Wednesday morning scratch of pre-race favorite Alajmal, the $50,000 Budweiser Imperial Cup (Gr. 3), the featured hurdle race of the 48th annual Aiken Spring Steeplechase on Saturday, March 22.
On the day before St. Patrick's Day, it was lucky to have been a horse which was developed in Camden as two graduates of Kip Elser's Kirkwood Stables and another from Donna Freyer's Custom Care Equine found their way into the winners' circle.
Even though we are not a full two months into 2014, the new year has already been a memorable one for Camden's Liza Towell Boyd and her younger brother, Hardin Towell, and the Towell family's Finally Farm.