Trainer Leslie Young dominated Saturday’s $25,000 Budweiser Holiday Cup when she sent out the first two finishers, Amy Taylor Rowe’s Mr. Universo and Boudinout Farm’s Harmony Bay, at the Aiken Fall Steeplechase.
Mr. Universo, who boasted the strongest record in a competitive field of five, won by three lengths under the trainer’s husband, reigning champion jockey Paddy Young. He ran the Budweiser Holiday Cup’s 2 1/4 miles in 4:25.20 on firm turf.
Stonelea Stable’s Balance the Budget checked in third, and Sir Dynamite, owned by Camden’s Dale Thiel and trained by Britt Graham of Camden, finished fourth. Completing the order of finish was Dr. John K. Griggs’ G G Gal, who is trained by Camden’s Dave Washer who had Camden’s Bernie Dalton in the irons.
Young posted her second notable victory in eight days. On Oct. 18, Irv Naylor’s Bittersweetheart was placed first in Far Hills’ $75,000 Peapack Stakes, virtually assuring the British-bred mare the Life’s Illusion Filly and Mare championship.
Mr. Universo, a 2007 classic winner on the flat in his native Brazil, entered the Budweiser Holiday Cup from a victory in a Shawan Downs claiming hurdle on Sept. 27. The 10-year-old Roi Normand gelding had won his maiden victory over fences at Parx Racing on July 1.
The afternoon of racing ended with 2014 Carolina Cup champion Top Striker, owned by Camden’s Sue Sensor and trained by Camden’s Arch Kingley, winning the 1 ¼-mile training flat race. Ridden by Paddy Young, Top Striker made the trip in 2:11 4/5 beating Dymas, trained by Camden’s Allison Fulmer, to the finish line by 5 ½ lengths.
Paddy Young had another hurdle win on the card as well as a flat win on Top Striker that does not count in the standings. He made up a bit of ground on leading jockey Willie McCarthy, who had one win at Aiken, and second-place Ross Geraghty, who rode Irv Naylor’s Able Deputy to a win in the International Gold Cup’s David L. "Zeke" Ferguson Memorial (Gr. 1). McCarthy has 20 wins with five meets left, Geraghty has 14, and Young has 13.