Sue Sensor’s Top Striker will try to become the second horse in as many years and, just third in 45, to win both the Carolina Cup and Colonial Cup feature chases in the same calendar year.
Sensor, who like Top Striker’s trainer, Arch Kingsley Jr., calls Camden home, nominated the 5-year-old Van Nistelrooy gelding into Saturday’s 45th running of the $100,000 Marion duPont Scott Colonial Cup at the Springdale Course in Camden. The first race of the day is set for 12:30 p.m.
Winner of the $50,000 Carolina Cup on March 29 by a comfortable 11 ½ lengths over a field of six novice jumpers, Top Striker regained his best form in winning the $50,000 AFLAC Supreme Hurdle for novices at the Steeplechase at Callaway in Georgia on Nov. 1 with Camden’s Bernie Dalton in the irons.
Headlining the list of seven nominees is Jacqueline Ohrstrom’s Demonstrative, who already has locked up the year’s earnings title.
Since a close second-place finish in Saratoga Race Course’s A. P. Smithwick Memorial (Gr. 1) on July 1, Demonstrative has been unbeatable. Trained by Richard Valentine and ridden by Robbie Walsh, the 7-year-old Elusive Quality gelding has won Saratoga’s $150,000 New York Turf Writers Cup (Gr. 1), Belmont Park’s $150,000 Lonesome Glory Handicap (Gr. 1), and the $250,000 Grand National (Gr. 1) at Far Hills, N.J.
That string of victories has assured him the National Steeplechase Association’s Lonesome Glory Champions Award as the year’s leading earner. His $352,500 in 2014 purses also has moved him into fourth place by all-time earnings in NSA races.
He is no stranger to the Springdale course. He won the 2012 Colonial Cup with a dramatic late rush and was fifth last year.
Demonstrative’s current streak has made him the odds-on favorite for the year’s Eclipse Award as North America’s champion steeplechase horse. Among the horses nominated to oppose him in the Colonial Cup is the 2013 Eclipse winner, Bill Pape’s Divine Fortune.
Winner of the 2013 Grand National, Divine Fortune was a valiant second this year after setting the pace for two miles. He is the season’s third-leading earner with $135,000 in purses, and a good showing in the Colonial Cup would move him into fifth place on the all-time earnings list.
Fourth in last year’s Colonial Cup after being harried on the lead, Divine Fortune is trained by Racing Hall of Fame member Jonathan Sheppard, who nominated three other contenders to the 2 3/4-mile Colonial Cup. Hudson River Farms’ Parker’s Project finished third in the Grand National, and Sheppard’s Barnstorming finished fourth. Pape’s Bluegrass Summer, last year’s novice champion, finished seventh.
The Ohrstrom-owned and Valentine-trained Private Equity rounded out the list of nominees. In his only start over fences this year, the 6-year-old was sixth in the $50,000 Zeke Ferguson last month.