In a move designed to get all three spring novice series hurdle steeplechase races on the same page, on Tuesday, the Carolina Cup Racing Association approved the proposal in which the Carolina Cup feature races will be run for a $75,000 purse beginning this year.
The figure represents a $25,000 bump for the Camden spring classic, which will be run on Saturday, March 28 at the Springdale Race Course in Camden.
The winner’s share of this year’s purse will be $45,000. The hike to a $75,000 payday will be the largest payout for the Carolina Cup feature since 2010, when it was also run for $75,000. From 1997 through 2003, the event was run for $100,000 as a Grade I open chase.
Not only is the Carolina Cup receiving an increase to $75,000 but so, too, is the April running of the Queens Cup feature in Mineral Springs, N.C. The third leg of the series, the Marcellus Frost Stakes, run in May in Nashville, has paid out $75,000.
Carolina Cup race director Jeff Teter is crossing his fingers that the first leg of the novice series in Camden will bring out a larger field of horses. Last spring, six jumpers ran in the $50,000 Carolina Cup which was won by Camden’s Sue Sensor’s Top Striker. "Obviously, the purse money gets the attention of owners and trainers for the race," Teter said.
Spiking the purses for the novice chases in Camden and at the Queens Cup can be traced back to the NSA’s Promotion and Growth Task Force, headed up by Bill Price, a Thoroughbred owner and co-chairman of the Queens Cup. The main objective of the group is to expand steeplechase racing and, to increase purse money for races at individual meets and on the circuit as a whole, along with bringing new owners into the sport while luring those owners who have stepped away from steeplechasing to come back into the fold.
"The (Promotion and Growth Task Force) is trying to increase purses and get owners back into the game," Teter said. "One of the major complaints the task force has heard is about the purse structure in steeplechasing."
Teter said, now, many Thoroughbred owners are keeping their flat horses running after they have lost a race or two at the major tracks. They then bring their runners to smaller race tracks where they can still compete for good purses rather than turning their horses into jumpers after a few failed efforts on the flat.
The Carolina Cup returned to being run as a novice stakes --- for 4-year-olds and older which had not won a hurdle race prior to March 1 of the previous year or, which had never won more than three races other than as a 3-year-old --- in 2013. This spring’s 2 1/8-mile chase marks the sixth time in the 83-year history of the Carolina Cup that the main event of the day will be run under novice conditions.
As for this year’s Carolina Cup card, Teter said there will be six races run at Springdale come March 28. In addition to the $75,000 feature chase, there will be a filly and mare hurdle, a maiden hurdle and a timber race. In addition, there will also be a maiden and an open race over the inner flat course.
Invitations to the Camden spring classic have been mailed out to previous year’s parking space and ticket holders. And, tickets are currently on sale.
For more information on the Carolina Cup log onto www.carolina-cup.org or, call 432-6513.