Michael J. Moran’s Staying On moved into contention on the final turn, rushed to the front on the outside at the final fence, and drew clear to an authoritative 2 1/4-length victory in the $50,000 Queen’s Cup MPC ‘Chase, the featured race at Saturday’s 19th annual Queen’s Cup Steeplechase in Mineral Springs, N.C.
The question was whether he was ready to take on Top Striker, owned by Camden’s Sue Sensor, trained by Camden’s Arch Kingsley and ridden by part-time Camdenite Willie McCarthy, winner of the $50,000 Carolina Cup for novices on March 29. Indeed, trainer Jack Fisher had him ready for the 2 3/8 miles of the Queen’s Cup.
Betsy Mead’s Forgotten Man set the early pace, with Top Striker and Gil Johnston’s Awesome Pearl stalking Forgotten Man, whose sizable early lead shrank to a couple lengths on the second circuit of the verdant Queen’s Cup course. Meanwhile, Jeff Murphy had Staying On in a comfortable position behind the second flight of horses.
Awesome Pearl moved first and took the lead entering the second turn, but Staying On also was on the move. That position pleased Moran, who saddled Staying On in Fisher’s absence. As Awesome Pearl and First Striker fought for the advantage in the early stretch, Murphy steered Staying On to the outside.
The nine-year-old Irish-bred was abreast of the leaders at the last fence and drew clear in the final 100 yards. Awesome Pearl finished second, a length clear of Top Striker. Edition Farm’s Run to Class finished fourth, and Forgotten Man finished fifth.
Staying On ran the Queen’s Cup distance in 4:31 on firm turf.