Five novice jumpers are expected to take the starter’s flag for Saturday’s $75,000 Carolina Cup steeplechase race after entries were accepted Monday by the National Steeplechase Association.
The feature chase for novice jumpers will be the centerpiece for the 83rd edition of the Camden spring classic at the Springdale Race Course in Camden. The first of the six races is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. post time. The gates to the facility will open at 9 a.m.
Jack Fisher, the defending NSA trainers’ champion, took advantage of a break in the weather in Maryland to round Syros into shape for the Carolina Cup.
Owned by Gil Johnston, the 7-year-old Dynaformer gelding won three times in 10 starts --- with three seconds and a pair of thirds --- in 2014 which brought in $122,400. One of his wins from a year ago came in the $65,000 allowance chase at Saratoga. Syros closed last season with back-to-back seconds in the $100,000 Foxbrook Champion Hurdle Stakes at Far Hills and a runner-up finished behind 2014 Carolina Cup winner Top Striker in the $50,000 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle at Callaway Gardens in November. He will carry Sean McDermott and 153 pounds.
Mrs. Timothy Gardner’s Where’s the Beef, who is trained at the Springdale Race Course by Ireland native Peter Murphy. Getting the nod in the irons, at 153 pounds, will be defending NSA champion jockey and part-time Camden resident Willie McCarthy, who has been riding the gray gelding all winter.
Claimed for $25,000 after a 10th place finish in a $28,000 race on the flat for Kathy Neilson last June at Parx Racing in Pennsylvania, the 7-year-old son of multiple stakes winner Rockport Harbor, scored its biggest win over fences by carrying McCarthy to victory in the $50,000 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle Stakes at Callaway Gardens, Ga., on Nov. 2, 2013. That win came five weeks after Where’s the Beef broke its maiden over hurdles in its second start in a maiden special chase at Foxfield in Charlottesville, Va.
Trainer Richard Valentine, who campaigns 2014 Eclipse Award winner Demonstrative, entered Bill Pape’s Fog Island. Darren Nagle gets the call at 153 pounds.
The 8-year-old Rossini gelding has not won over fences since taking the Foxbrook Champion Hurdle Stakes at Far Hills, N.J., in 2012, but is no stranger to stakes company. In fact, its last 11 races have been stakes jump races with one of those resulting in a second-place finish in the 2013 Carolina Cup.
Aiken-based trainer Julie Gomena, who sent out Balance the Budget to victory in last Saturday’s $50,000 Aiken feature, will have Rock Ford Stables’ Sporty taking another shot at the Carolina Cup after finishing fourth last year. The 8-year-old Smarty Jones gelding was third in the Iroquois Steeplechase’s Marcellus Frost Novice Stakes and Saratoga’s Jonathan Kiser Novice Stakes last year.
Last year’s NSA leading amateur rider, Kieran Norris, gets the nod on Sporty which will also carry 153 pounds.
The mystery horse in the field is Daybreak Stable’s Diplomat, who was purchased by trainer Jimmy Day from Dermot Weld’s stable in Ireland. A 6-year-old Kitten’s Joy gelding bred by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Diplomat had a pair of seconds in eight starts in the UK in 2014. In 2013, Diplomat scored a pair of wins over hurdles at Galway and Sligo in Ireland. Day has not named a rider on Diplomat which will carry the high weight of 156 pounds.
All six races, including two on the flat, drew full starting fields.
Tickets and parking spaces for Saturday’s races are still on sale. For puchases, please call the Carolina Cup Racing Association office at 432-6513 or (800) 780-8117 or visit the Carolina Cup Website located at www.carolina-cup.org, for more race day information.